Events & Trainings

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If your environmental projects and initiatives encourage behavior – and almost all do – whether you want legislative and public support for a policy, business owners to use sustainable supply chains, or people to adopt new practices, or simply even believe that facts are real and science is credible, then Root Solutions training is for you. 

Our trainings are based on the Making Shift Happen behavior design framework, and each workshop uses a mix of case studies, informative storytelling, hands-on activities, and concrete design material.

We offer in-person & online training, deep dive training, as well as private training tailored to your needs.  Whether you are looking to start a new initiative from scratch, or to augment your organization’s existing strategic planning processes and systems, our trainings will help you make shift happen.


We offer both a fundamentals and an advanced masterclass. While each provides a comprehensive overview of the myriad behavior-based tools available to us, the main objective of the training is to learn how to apply them.

You’ll get A to Z guidance on how to design a behavior change initiative—from choosing the right audience and uncovering what drives their behavior, to designing, prototyping, testing, and implementation—so your policies, campaigns, initiatives, and strategies can change environmental behavior for the better.

Using the Making Shift Happen framework – an evidence-based approach to the development of effective behavior-based solutions – you will be able to more effectively identify and understand problematic behaviors, and develop and test appropriate solutions. Attendees who sign up for the Fundamentals of Behavior Change Masterclass will receive a copy of Making Shift Happen: Designing for Environmental Behavior Change.

To be notified about upcoming opportunities, please register your interest HERE.

Every training comes with a copy of Making Shift Happen: Designing for Environmental Behavior Change

You will learn:

  • Foundations: Cognitive biases, how emotions factor in, ethics of changing behavior and more
  • Initiate: Picking the right audience and behavior using a human centered design approach and systems thinking
  • Uncover: Identifying the major drivers of your audience’s behavior using an evidence-based approach
  • Design: Selecting and designing the most appropriate solutions with a deep dive into prototyping
  • Behavioral Building Blocks™: Best practices for designing innumerable behavior change interventions

Attendees are awarded a Making Shift Happen Fundamentals Certification in Environmental Behavior Change upon completion of the course and testing

Prerequisite: Fundamentals of Environmental Behavior Change (each module builds on what you have already learned)

You will learn:

    • Initiate: Designing your goals and metrics to set you up for success; setting your initiative up with scaling in mind from the start
    • Uncover: Designing your Behavioral Drivers Analysis (BDA) survey, coding and analyzing your BDA to unlock evidenced based drivers
    • Design: Best practices for segmenting your audience
    • Implement: Piloting, implementing and scaling your initiative
    • Methods: Using surveys and focus groups, xperimental design, and evaluating the success of your campaign
    • Behavioral Building Blocks™: Best practices for designing innumerable behavior change interventions

Attendees are awarded a Making Shift Happen Advanced Certification in Environmental Behavior Change upon completion of the course and testing

Two ½ day trainings taken several weeks apart

*PREREQUISITES: Fundamentals of Environmental Behavior Change or Modular Training Part 1, Modules 2 and 3

1/2 day

*PREREQUISITE: Fundamentals of Environmental Behavior Change or Modular Training: Part 1, Module 5

1/2 day

*PREREQUISITE: Fundamentals of Environmental Behavior Change or Modular Training Part 2, Module 1

1/2 day

*PREREQUISITE: Fundamentals of Environmental Behavior Change or Modular Training Part 2, Module 4

Nia Carrico-Diener

“This workshop taught me so much more than I ever hoped for! I am so excited to apply this incredible new knowledge to all my programs and interactions!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!”

Nia Carrico-Diener
Save Our Shores
Julia Hatton - Rising Sun

“I feel like anyone working in environmental program design and implementation should receive this training, especially if they have a goal of changing peoples’ behavior. The training was interesting, engaging, and relevant; we came out of it with specific steps we can take to improve our programming to make it more relevant and effective.”​

Rising Sun Center for Opportunity
Julia Hatton
Director of Youth Programs Rising Sun Energy Center
Kate Bimrose Testimonial

“This work actually gets at a process for lasting, sustainable solutions to environmental problems, and can be applied to virtually any issue or topic. These solutions/interventions are personal and direct and are therefore more effective. Decision science is the mechanism for bringing together often polarized issues and creating life-long change to better our world and strengthen human-to-human connection!"

Kate Bimrose
Greater Farallones Association
Jacenda Davis

“A great workshop for those who work in community organizing and/or engagement! The building blocks presented in the Root Solutions workshop are great tools to help you design an engagement project that targets any obstacles you might face and provides you with the tools to overcome that obstacle. Great information, great presenters, and an overall great experience! I think anybody who works in sustainability and/or environmental departments in their city or county would benefit from attending this workshop!"

Jacenda Davis
Community Engagement Coordinator, Sustainable Contra Costa County
Elaine Cole, PhD Testimonial

"As a Sustainability Coordinator in higher education I oversee a myriad of programs and projects. I try to apply behavior change principles to these efforts but I do not always have the time, staff or resources. I have been fortunate to attend in person and web-based trainings with Root Solutions for a project I am working on. I have benefited greatly from the relevant research, engaging and interactive presentations and the supportive training. I have been provided with resources, encouragement and coaching to help make my latest project seem less daunting. I would highly recommend Root Solutions workshops for professionals that are novice or experienced in behavior change strategies."

Portland Community College
Elaine Cole, PhD
Sustainability Coordinator, Portland Community College, Rock Creek Campus
Nan Farley Testimonial

"The Root Solutions Behavior Design Workshop is the best conference I’ve been to! The Root Solutions Behavior Design Workshop was extremely informative for addressing a milieu of questions - effectively empowering all non-profit representatives in attendance with the proven calculated methods to affect meaningful change by reaching all audiences."

Nan Farley
350 Bay Area
Katie Abrams

“[The workshop] covers much of the science behind an articulate and well-rounded framework in ways that those doing work in conservation behavior can readily apply.”

Katie Abrams
Associate Professor of Science Communication, Colorado State University
Brett Walter

“If you are wondering how the latest social science can be applied to help you better target and persuade your target audience, the Root Solutions workshop is a must. Nya and Lauren have done the hard work for you, reviewing and mastering the essential findings, and presenting them succinctly and convincingly in a well-crafted and effective workshop. I recommend this without reservation.”

Brett Walter
President, Greensweep
Toby C - Luther College

"I feel lucky to have attended Root Solution's Behavior Change training! Even though we only had three hours to get through an enormous amount of information, Lauren and Nya were able to perfectly summarize their knowledge. Their presentations were well organized, understandable, and engaging. They offered ideas and tactics that were immediately implementable. This presentation was absolutely the highlight of a jam-packed 4-day conference. Keep up the fantastic work!"

Luther College
Toby C.
Attendee of our October 2018 AASHE Conference workshop
Greg Ellis

“Root Solutions gave me hope that my small organization can amplify our voice and make change in our community -- I learned specific techniques and received tangible tools to improve our campaign messaging and achieve real behavioral outcomes.”

Greg Ellis
Growth Officer, One Cool Earth
Jamie Smith - copy

“This training provides incredibly useful information about designing an effective and long-lasting project aiming to change behavior. You are educated on a vast amount of tools that can be used in pretty much any setting. I will regularly reference my notes from this training and Root Solutions as a whole to help me create successful projects around environmental issues.”

Jamie Smith
Clean Water Action
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If you are interested in any trainings described above for your organization please reach out to us! We tailor all training to your needs. We also offer modular trainings and short topical trainings.

Modular Training

We have divided our 5-days of training into shorter classes that can be taken over time. We recommend one module per week over 15 weeks. We find this approach is great for uptake of the material and allows your team to integrate learning and even complete steps of the design process before moving on to next steps. We like to combine this modular approach with coaching – after a module, we work closely with you as you design and execute your behavior change initiative. We have done this with dozens of organizations, some over a one year span and some over a two year span.

Part 1 - Making Shift Happen Process Modules

In the modules of Part 1, we provide a roadmap for getting from the environmental challenge that you want to address to implementing and scaling a behavior change initiative in the real world. We also explore some of the processes of the human brain that influence our behavior, such as cognitive biases and emotions, and discuss important considerations like ethics, scarcity, and equity that practitioners should always keep in mind when designing a behavior change initiative.

There are many global environmental issue areas that need to be addressed—greenhouse gas emissions, plastic pollution, deforestation, and biodiversity loss, to name just a few. Within each issue area, there are myriad ways to effect change—we can try to reduce plastic pollution by focusing on, for example, shifting consumers to use less single-use plastics, working with restaurants and companies to use reusable packaging, working with lawmakers to pass legislation that limits the ability of manufacturers to produce virgin plastic, or by asking manufacturers to use materials other than plastic for their single-use products. How do we choose where to focus our behavior change efforts?

The INITIATE phase is designed to set practitioners up for success by helping them strategically identify, evaluate, and select the environmental challenges, audiences, and specific behaviors on which to focus the initiative. The guidance provided in this module will help you complete these steps from scratch, or it can augment your organization’s existing strategic planning processes and systems. 

Not only will the work done in this phase help you select the most impactful, achievable, and scalable audience and behavior to work with, the research you do will inform everything you do in later phases.

Uncover the factors that are truly driving your audience’s behavior. What’s stopping them from taking action, and how can you help them overcome this? While it can be tempting to skip straight to solutions, taking the time to listen to and deeply understand your audience is at the heart of the Making Shift Happen process—ignoring or making assumptions about why people are or are not adopting a behavior can waste resources or even backfire.

The UNCOVER phase is separated into two modules. In this module, you’ll learn about the major drivers of behavior, which are mapped into three categories: Means (“Can I do it?”), Motivation (“Do I want to do it?”), and Memory (“Can I remember to do it?”).

Uncover the factors that are truly driving your audience’s behavior. What’s stopping them from taking action, and how can you help them overcome this? While it can be tempting to skip straight to solutions, taking the time to listen to and deeply understand your audience is at the heart of the Making Shift Happen process—ignoring or making assumptions about why people are or are not adopting a behavior can waste resources or even backfire.

*This module is to be understood in conjunction with Module 2, where you learn about the general drivers of behavior (the 3 M’s). In this Module you find out what barriers and motivations are driving your audience. We will show you how to conduct a Behavioral Drivers Analysis, a systematic, evidence-based method for uncovering which factors are driving your audience’s behavior, which will help you choose the appropriate evidence-based behavior change solutions—or shifters—in the next module.

In this module you learn about designing solutions to shift your audience’s behavior. You will learn to use what you know about your issue area, audience, and behavior to design a complete suite of behavioral shifters – evidence-based behavior change solutions – to achieve your goal. These shifters must address the specific barriers the audience faces and should use the most effective behavior change techniques to motivate and inspire them. You’ll use science-backed shifters from the BEHAVIORAL Building BlocksTM to accomplish this.


No matter how perfect the solution, unless it works for the audience and is rolled out effectively it may not be taken up by key stakeholders. In this module we take a deep dive into prototyping – which allows you to identify problems and make necessary adjustments to your behavior change messages and initiatives quickly and affordably – before you use substantial resources to roll them out. 

You will also get an overview of planning a full-fledged initiative, testing it on a small portion of the audience –  including how to use pilots as experiments to test the effectiveness of your initiative – making refinements, and fully implementing your initiative in the real-world

Finally, we will discuss considerations for scaling your initiative to even broader audiences.


In Part 2, we learn the best practices for designing innumerable behavior shifting solutions from norms to framing to breaking and making habits.

The need to belong is a powerful driver of our behavior. In this module, you’ll learn how to use social norms to ensure that environmental behaviors spread and are durable.

Why do you save energy? Is it to protect the environment? Benefit society? Save money? Because others are doing it? If you’re like most people, you don’t believe that knowing what your peers are doing has much, if any, effect on your behavior. However, although people tend to underestimate the degree to which others influence their own behavior, social norms are among the most powerful motivators of behavior change. In this module, you’ll learn how to use social norms to ensure that environmental behaviors spread and are durable.

Even the smallest inconveniences can stop behavior change in its tracks. In this module, you’ll learn how to make environmental actions easy to reduce the intention-action gap.

How many of us have waited until the last minute to file our taxes? How many times have you stopped filling out a form when it took too long? In today’s busy and ever-changing world, we are asked to take many different actions every single day and even every hour. To optimize our limited time, attention, and energy, we often take the path of least resistance. Even minor inconveniences, or hassle factors, can cause us to move on to easier or more pressing matters. In this module, we discuss tips for making the desired behaviors as simple, seamless, and convenient as possible. We’ll also explore adding friction to make undesirable behaviors difficult to complete.

Facilitating habit changes requires great effort by practitioners, but can reap long-lasting benefits for the environment. Learn how to design initiatives that break bad habits and build positive ones.

Have you ever driven halfway to work without even realizing it? While learning a new behavior, like driving a car, requires focused concentration, with frequent repetition the brain creates neurological pathways that reinforce a pattern to the point where the behavior becomes so automatic we don’t have to pay attention at all. Because our brains are constantly trying to save time and energy, the “path of least resistance” subconsciously guides much of our daily behavior. This module provides a variety of tools to support our target audiences in building durable positive habits by shaping the first actions toward change, introducing new contextual cues to trigger desired actions, and reinforcing these actions with practice, feedback, and incentives. This chapter also provides a variety of tools to support breaking habits by disrupting old cues and response links.

In this module, you’ll learn how to jumpstart your audience members’ motivation to take action by aligning your initiative with what they care most about.

We all have things that we’re attached to, such as the people, animals, or places that we love the most, certain activities, and our culture and customs. When we care deeply about something, we experience powerful emotions that motivate us to protect or preserve it, and we prioritize the things that are in line with the morals and ideals that guide our judgments.

However, we sometimes lose sight of how integral our environment is to all the things we are attached to. In this module, you’ll learn how to help your audience see the connection between the environmental issues you work on and the people, experiences, places, values, morals, and ideologies that they are attached to.

In this age of information overload, competition for people’s attention is steep. You’ll learn how to design initiatives that are vivid so that your audience notices, pays attention to, and remembers your messages long enough to take the desired action.

Why do we notice and remember some things, while others “go in one ear and out the other”? In our fast-paced and technology-driven society, we are bombarded by messages competing for our attention every day—from billboards, to pop-ups on our phones, to signs in the grocery store. The sheer volume of information—all of which claims to be important—results in information overload and, ultimately, attention fatigue. We simply can’t process and respond to all the messages presented to us—even those about things that are truly important to us. Given the critical importance of what information is most noticeable and memorable, environmental practitioners face a critical challenge and opportunity. To be successful, we must design initiatives that not only take attention fatigue into account, but also overcome it. This module is about how to overcome attention fatigue by making our messages as noticeable, engaging, and memorable as possible.

Tapping into our desire to behave in alignment with our identities is a powerful driver of behavior change and for galvanizing environmental champions. You’ll learn various methods for doing this, including how to design commitment campaigns.

We each carry multiple identities, such as that of a student, sibling, professional, or parent. Each identity is shaped by our individual expectations for ourselves and by the expectations placed on us by others. If we fail to fulfill the expectations associated with our identity, we risk the inconsistency disappointing ourselves or others. Our drive to be consistent with our most strongly held values and societal roles shapes every aspect of our lives, including how we interact with others, how we respond to messages in our environment, and how we behave on a daily basis. This module provides tools to leverage your audience’s drive to be consistent with their identities so as to encourage environmental behaviors.

Optimism is crucial for maintaining motivation in the face of daunting environmental challenges. You’ll learn how to activate hope and inspire action by strengthening your audience’s sense of efficacy.

Sea levels are rising. Wildfires are blazing out of control. Species teeter on the brink of extinction as ecosystems are threatened by human activity and a changing climate. When this is all we hear about the environment, it’s no wonder we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed or even paralyzed. The truth is, most of us do care about the health of the planet, but many environmental issues feel daunting, abstract, and outside of our individual control. These feelings are amplified when environmental practitioners highlight the catastrophic nature of a problem, guided by the mistaken assumption that this strategy will not only grab people’s attention but also make them more likely to act. In this module, you will learn to empower your audiences through active optimism: the kind of optimism that is rooted in action. Active optimism isn’t just about believing that the outcome will be positive, it’s also about feeling empowered and capable of taking action to make that outcome a reality. This kind of optimism is a crucial driver of transformational, enduring environmental change.

We are motivated to engage in behaviors when we feel that the benefits outweigh the costs. Learn how to choose incentives wisely to attract people to positive environmental behaviors and deter them from negative ones.

In an ideal world, everyone would be motivated to engage in environmental behaviors all of the time. Everyone would believe that the costs of the environmental behaviors (like the extra time it takes to sort our food into compost bins) are outweighed by the benefits (like the reduced emissions from food in landfills), even if those benefits will be realized far into the future. However, in reality, few of us are sufficiently motivated by distant, diffused, or intangible rewards. Sometimes your audience will require an extra incentive to make the benefits of environmental behavior outweigh the costs and to overcome the psychological and social barriers to behavior change. In this module you will learn the best practices for designing and delivering rewards and penalties to motivate positive environmental behavior.

Framing information in a way that activates meaningful mental associations is essential for encouraging a shift in mindsets toward environmental engagement. You’ll learn about frames that have already been tested, how to avoid detrimental frames, and how to test your own metaphors and frames.

Would you rather buy meat that is 75% fat- free or meat that is 25% fat? When presented with these options, most people showed a strong preference for the 75% fat- free option, even though both choices represented the same product, with only a difference in how the information was framed. We are framing—whether intentionally or not—every time we communicate. The words or images we choose, the metaphors we invoke, and the information we highlight all activate certain mental associations in the minds of our audience. These associations are often deeply rooted as beliefs, values, morals, narratives, and ideologies. All information is processed in the context of the associations that are active in people’s minds, and facts that don’t resonate with these active associations will be misinterpreted or ignored. Therefore, framing your communications to activate specific mental associations is the most effective way to communicate truth to your audience. In this module, we discuss both short- and long-term aspects of framing, including how to deal with misinformation and anti-environmental frames, how to frame for short-term action, and how to shift mental associations in the long term.

You’ll learn about the role that exposure to nature, other-focused emotions, mindfulness and awareness of cognitive biases play in fostering a change in our underlying relationship to the environment and its inhabitants, thereby durably transforming behavior.

What about the type of transformational change that can shift the mindset of an entire society? People need intrinsic motivation–motivation that arises from within–to continue to take action for the environment long after our initiatives are gone. In a society that values productivity and economic output above all else, it’s hardly surprising that we find it difficult to slow down, to connect with nature, and even to know ourselves. In addition, we are continuously bombarded with bad news – and, as climate change accelerates, the news will get worse before it gets better. At worst, we may find ourselves isolated in a “bubble” that causes us to lose our empathy and compassion for others and nature. This loss of connection can lower our long-term motivation to care for others and protect our environment, making the barriers to behavior change even harder to overcome. This module discusses how to change mindsets by building intrinsic motivation to protect the environment. Activating intrinsic motivation is essential to creating permanent, transformational changes in how we live on this planet. This is by no means a quick fix, but it is an enduring one.

Short Topical Trainings

Do you need something more bite-sized? We can support your projects by offering short topical trainings such as these:
  • Designing the best choice architecture for a specific setting
  • Designing pledges and commitment campaigns for lasting impact
  • Identifying and testing the motivating frames
  • Designing and testing metaphors
  • Highlighting progress: using feedback for enhanced motivation
  • Getting to know your audience: evidence-based behavioral determinants analysis
  • Storytelling
  • Prototyping  your behavior change solutions
  • Connecting through comparison: how to best create normative messages



Looking for an introduction to behavioral science as it applies to sustainability?
Contact us if you are interested in one of these hour-long webinars designed to get you up to speed quickly.

Increase the ROI of your environmental campaigns by employing strategies from the most cutting-edge research in cognitive science and behavioral change. In this hour-long webinar, you will: 

  • Discover why behavior change is the next wave of the environmental movement 
  • Learn solutions from the 10 principles outlined in our BEHAVIORAL BUILDING BLOCKS 
  • See how other organizations have shifted people toward sustainable behaviors by applying these principles

Are you an NGO, grantmaker, or business that bulk-ordered Making Shift Happen? If so, we would like to offer you this private webinar to jumpstart your journey into behavior change and utilizing Making Shift Happen to its full potential. We will walk you through navigation tips, highlight the most important parts, and have fun discussing solutions you can start using immediately.