2015 STUDENT PROJECTS
Students in Tom’s Systems Thinking and Sustainability class chose the following projects to work on over the course of spring semester, 2015. This semester the majority of projects emphasized the power of social media and networking, and groups approached this from a number of different perspectives.
Cool Choices Social Media Projects
Cool Choices was created to inspire individuals, communities, and small businesses to adopt sustainable practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Cool Choices relies on best practices from a variety of social sciences and uses games to bring about behavior change.
We know that employees—especially younger employees—want to work for a company that does the right things. And we know that lots of companies are genuinely engaged in corporate sustainability efforts. How, though, are companies communicating their efforts—and the outcomes—to their employees? Who are the leaders on this? What can other companies learn from leaders in this realm?
For this project, students researched corporate communication trends—including the use of social media—to understand how companies are communicating their sustainability goals and accomplishments to their employees. The project identifies best practices and, if possible, profiles several companies that are exemplifying those practices and the metrics used to measure success.
In 2015 Cool Choices is launching an expanded platform for game alumni where past participants can continue to share their successes and collaborate with others on specific projects. For this project, students recommended additions to the game site to make it more attractive for alumni players.
Since 2005, Crane has taken the lead in putting the “fun” into humidifiers, air purifiers, fans, space heating and night lights by following our mantra: Design for Better Living. Crane is a fast growing company of about 15 employees located in Bensenville, IL (just outside of Chicago) that has grown to $30 million in annual revenue by designing products that are functional and efficient, while communicating an appreciation for unique and elegant design.
Crane wanted a marketing plan that emphasizes the sustainability of the cool mist ultrasonic humidifiers, focusing on new parents who value sustainable products for their new baby. The final product addresses social media campaigns, information and content suggestions for a Corporate Responsibility Page on our website, and creative ideas for displays or handouts at retailers and at shows.
Lands’ End is a 46 year old global retailer based in Wisconsin, offering classically styled American sportswear, accessories and Home products for the entire family. Lands’ End employs more than 7000 people and designs, tests, sells, sources, services, packs, and ships over 45,000,000 units each year. As a company with a history of innovation, they are strongly committed to minimizing their impact on the environment and they are beginning the journey towards sustainability via a focus on product, policies and actions.
As members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Lands’ End has access to the online version of the ‘Higg Index’; a scoring and evaluation system exclusively for the apparel industry. While Lands’ End has several of their products and third party sourcing facilities entered and scored in the index, they need to develop a depth of measurement, acceptance, and socialization of the system among our product designers and merchants.
The team continued to exercise the Higg Index and provided a plan on how to integrate the ‘Higg Index’ fully into the Lands’ End business model.
Plan and Develop a 2014 Report to the Business Community on Sustainability Activities in WI
For the last five years, a group of students put together a report on the status of business sustainability efforts in WI http://www.wisconsinsustainability.com/wi-sustainability-reports/. This annual report is valued by the business community and other decision makers in the state. Wisconsin is the only state to prepare a triple bottom line sustainability report, modeled on the reports prepared by businesses.
The Spring 2015 team decided on the structure and format of the report, including what to include. They chose the metrics that capture state economics, environmental, and social performance. The team designed the layout for the report, developed the appropriate graphics to be included, and wrote the text. that will be used.
The Regent Market Co-op is a small neighborhood grocery store with its own character. The market is a traditional neighborhood grocery store serving the Regent, Monroe and Vilas neighborhoods. This location has been a grocery store since 1924, converting into a grocery cooperative in 1998. It has grown to have ~2000 members in the neighborhood.
In 2015 the Market is planning a major project, including expansion, renovation and the offering of new product lines. While the Co-op has an active customer base, they wish to harness the power of social media to engage the neighborhood as they re-launch in our renovated space. The market, its staff and management wish to use social media to engage the community (from the local high school students to the retirees) to ensure an efficient bi-directional flow of information that leads to an enhanced Regent Market Co-op experience for all.
The Board of the Directors of the Regent Market Co-op sought assistance to design a marketing and outreach campaign, heavily focused on social media, to drive increased sales and new membership along with showcasing our commitment to sustainability.
Wisconsin Microfinance is a nonprofit organization that funds microfinance loans in Haiti and the Philippines. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, millions of poor people were left with almost nothing to their names. 5 years later, the people of Haiti are still poor, and still live with little hope for the future. WI Microfinance provides funds for loans to a single community in Haiti. Even though our work is limited to a single community, there currently is a waiting list for 1000 new loans.
Modeling the success of the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council Conference, the WI Microfinance team planned and coordinated a formal dinner gala to raise money for Wisconsin Microfinance’s Haiti initiative. Team responsibilities included planning the event, organizing the event logistics, marketing and advertising the event, and overseeing the event.