Motivating Action to Address Climate Change by the Residential Sector at the Community Level
The Tisch College Community Research Center (TCRC) provided seed funding for this project which identified and analyzed barriers and incentives to local action in Medford, Massachusetts, around issues of climate change.
Graduate students from Tufts University's Department of Urban and Environmental Policy & Planning (UEP) were engaged performed the initial research through their Field Projects class. The project, which was completed in Spring 2009, included a preliminary literature review, interviews, and focus groups which resulted in a report written for the Medford Climate Action Network (Medford CAN) to support the organization in their effort to understand and engage the Medford community in actively mitigating their individual contributions to climate change. The study found that the Medford community is generally aware of climate change issues and considers these issues important, but that this awareness does not necessarily lead to behavior change. The research also revealed the importance of symbolic actions and leading by example (especially at the government level), engaging people one on one, and integrating climate change issues into the school curriculum. A draft survey instrument, shaped by the findings of this research, was developed to be used later to collect further information from Medford residents in order to provide more quantitative and statistically valid analysis of these issues. Background research on social marketing, the psychology of environmental problems, cognitive dissonance and marketing, persuasive communication with climate change, and journal articles that present similar research on residential climate action also helped to inform findings and recommendations.
As a community-based participatory research (CBPR) project, the study was conducted in conjunction with local leaders and organizations.