Our school-based initiatives empower students to improve school/university climate and culture with practical research-based strategies.

Actively caring

K-12 students are empowered to recognize their peers' prosocial actions and develop initiatives to improve their own school climate and culture 

positive deviance

We empower college students to be positive deviants on campus and teach high school and middle school students how to actively care

Federal, state, and local emphasis on academic testing has resulted in less time and resources for school personnel to promote prosocial development and prevent violence in K-12 schools. Given these constraints, students (with guidance from school personnel) should be empowered to recognize each other and shift their own school climate and culture.  Culturally and developmentally-appropriate prosocial curricula (e.g., training and courses) may be provided to school personnel and students to ignite change. 

elementarY schools

Students document actively caring on notecards and teachers recognize students for prosocial actions. 

middle schools

College and high school students teach character strengths, prosocial concepts, and recognize the prosocial behavior of middle school students. 

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high schools

COR and college students empower high school students to solve school problems and teach middle school students

Incivility, harassment, academic bullying and even violent behavior are problems influenced by U.S. culture, college/university culture, and a student peer culture. Each culture has unique and often long-standing norms, values, assumptions and beliefs; thus, culture is difficult to change.

However, culture change is possible when we identify positive deviants. Within every culture, an individual or even individuals exist who counter the norm with positive behavior and even prosocial strategies. These positive deviants must be empowered to influence others and shift their own culture, whether its the small culture of their friends or the broader university and community culture. When prosocial behavior counters the norm, it is challenging but also critical for creating cultural and eventual social change. 

By encouraging positive deviance, we hope new prosocial norms and behaviors emerge, flourish and sustain throughout the culture. 

In a time of great uncertainty with scarce resources and online competition, Higher Education institutions must reinvent themselves by considering the value proposition of the institution -- the development of the whole student with academic and students' social-emotional competencies.  

More specifically, collaborative efforts among academics and non-academic (student affairs) professionals should focus on intentionally developing positive deviants (e.g., prosocial student leaders who counter the norm). The COR prosocial co-curricular approach* includes academic courses, programs, and training in order to:

  •    Develop student competencies, increase student belongingness, increase retention of existing students, and increase recruitment of new students

  •    Counter negative and destructive student organizational norms

  •    Facilitate university-community relations

service learning

This "Pay-It-Forward Teaching" service learning project aims to develop prosocial competence for the college/university students who mentor and educate the high school students, who in turn pay-it-forward by delivering prosocial curricula to middle school students.  Additionally, materials are available for professors and student affairs professionals as well as student mentors. 

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high influencers training

This research-based training is based on the most innovative frameworks and models for effectively creating and sustaining organizational change. Training is delivered to high influencers in Greek Letter Organizations (GLO) to more effectively change their student organizational climate and culture. Training materials include facilitator and participant guides. 

*COR is currently developing additional training and courses relevant to the co-curricular college/university approach.

College student involvement in extracurricular activities creates a sense of belonging and community, but only if the experience is positive and meaningful for members. Thus, creating a positive culture or shifting a negative culture of student organizations is critical. Students are the most valuable asset in changing student organizational culture. Want to leverage student peer-to-peer relationships and an innovative student empowerment-based approach for organizational change? 

High Influencers Training (HIT) empowers student organizational members to use prosocial leadership styles, positive organizational practices, and team-based problem solving to improve organizational effectiveness, ultimately addressing student apathy and motivation in the organization.  

HIT uses Social Network Analysis to identify, empower and support the most influential organizational members to build positive organizational climate and culture. High-status influencers learn how to shift the climate by decreasing harmful organizational outcomes (e.g., apathy of members) and promote positive outcomes (e.g., motivation and engagement). As a new positive climate emerges from these efforts, influencers will be motivated to address the deeper culture-related issues, such as harmful behaviors (e.g., binge drinking) and positive norms for behaviors (e.g., recognizing good actions). 


To facilitate organizational change, top-down and bottom-up organizational strategies are needed. The HIT approach comprises of three components: 1) HIT Participant Training, 2) Organization Workshop, and 3) Technical Assistance. 

  1.  HIT Participant Training: HIT participants are often positional leaders (e.g., President) and high-status informal influencers, and thus possess the means to implement both top-down and bottom-up organizational change. We empower students to develop, implement, and assess (then repeat) top-down and bottom-up, organizational-change strategies in order to address all organizational issues—from destructive organizational policies to harmful organizational norms.  

  2. Organization Workshop: During the Organization Workshop, HIT participants use their HIT training to facilitate a discussion with their organizational members. HIT participants use their organizational influence and strategies learned during HIT Participant Training to generate buy-in and to unsure immediate organizational change.

  3.  Technical Assistance: HIT has built-in processes for Cor staff or on-campus professionals to support HIT participants as they implement change strategies and work towards immediate and long-term organizational change goals. 

club/chapter culture change 

Do all-member presentations (e.g., guest speaker) motivate every organizational member to improve their own actions and the student club or chapter? Likely not.

Using a statistical model after a student survey, we identify HIT participants who are most able to influence other members and improve the organization. Imagine selecting the 24 students in your greek chapter who can reach 100% of the organization (e.g., 132 members). Imagine empowering only 6 students in Student Government who have influence over the 14 other members.

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Community culture change

Do you know how students feel about the following questions:

  • Which organizations have positive, neutral, or negative relationships with one another?
  • Which organizations are isolated from the rest of the community?
  • Which organizations bridge relationships between councils?

We can provide your institution with a report of our data collection methodology, social network analysis findings, recommendations for your community, and training for your students.