A look at... Green Challenge

In the autumn of 2021, Studium Generale organised the Green Challenge (Groene Challenge). Throughout November, participants opened a little online door every day, revealing a sustainability challenge on themes such as water, food, mobility and biodiversity.

In-depth information was included, such as links to Utrecht University lectures or studies and reading and viewing tips from the international media. Social researchers Michèlle Bal and Marijn Stok conducted research during the Green Challenge. By filling in short surveys, participants were invited to help science along by providing insight into sustainable and unsustainable behaviours.

I expected to reach people who are probably already ‘green’, but I hoped that unexpected angles and a positive approach would offer new insights to participants and inspire them. The research linked to the challenge was intended to provide additional depth, as well, of course, as providing the researchers with a research group. Much of the content behind the little doors came from the archive of General Studies or referred to research done at Utrecht University. We wrote all of the texts ourselves: no small job, but worth it. Participants could leave feedback every day, and I got loads of enthusiastic replies!

I really enjoyed the online Advent calendar of the Green Challenge. It provides a little online tic to return to the theme every day and find out which initiatives you yourself can take. If I remember right, the messages were positive almost every day. I for one am always conscious of the need for sustainability, so I already knew quite a bit. I especially enjoy using the challenge and then sharing my actions and thoughts, in the hope that this will inspire actions and thoughts in turn.

Priscilla Haring took part in the Green Challenge

To us, this was an interesting opportunity to do research ‘in real life’. We found it innovative and challenging to come up with a format that would work over the long term, in this case at least throughout the month. That was the tricky part; not all participants joined in all month long. As a result, participant numbers fluctuated between the different data sets in our study. But we had a great time devising a study that would work in practice and would really be able to encourage people to make (more) sustainable decisions.

Dr Michèlle Bal and Dr Marijn Stok are lecturers and researchers at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences


This article also appeared in the second edition of the magazine In Beeld, full of inspiring columns, background stories and experiences of researchers and support staff.

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