We are delighted that NAS research associate Rachelle DeJong has published an article in Commentary Magazine on the behavioral modification inherent in the campus sustainability movement. Her article, "An Ivy League Nudge-ucation," is available online but a subscription is required to read it beyond the first paragraph. We encourage readers to purchase the article or subscribe to Commentary.
Looking at Yale University as a case study, Rachelle criticizes college and university sustainability programs that aim to manipulate student behavior. Directors of sustainability draw on behavioral economics and social psychology research to develop strategies for habituating students into “green” lifestyles. The campus sustainability movement represents a significant shift in higher education—from educating students with rational and moral knowledge that prepares them to make prudent, conscious choices—to covert conditioning to elicit Pavlovian responses.
In her research at NAS on this movement, Rachelle has also examined divestment campaigns, zero-waste programs, and the cost to colleges of reducing carbon emissions.