Green Dot

The Green Dot strategy aims to shift campus culture and increase proactive preventative behavior by targeting influential members from across a community with basic education, skill practice, and reactive interventions to high-risk situations. Every choice to be proactive as a bystander is categorized as a “new behavior” and thus a “Green Dot.” Individual decisions (green dots) group together to create larger change.

Dorothy Edwards, President of Alteristic
Image of Green Dot
Program Name Level of Evidence Format Target Audience Special Features
Green Dot
Supported By Evidence
  • In-person Workshop
  • Marketing Campaign
  • Undergraduate students
  • Graduate Students
  • Faculty and staff

The Green Dot Strategy is comprised of four main components:

  • The Overview Talk: The overview talk covers the basics of the Green Dot Strategy and can range from 60 to 90-minutes. Its core concepts are “inspiration, shared vision, individual acceptance, simplicity, and critical mass.” (Alteristic, Inc.) The goals of the speech are to inspire buy-in and explain the general strategy in order to begin the process of campus wide cultural change.
  • Bystander Trainings: Bystander trainings include skill-building activities which allow participants to practice reactive and proactive interventions. The training is split into four steps: 1. Recognizing Warning Signs (Red Dots); 2. Identifying Barriers; 3. Intervene (Reactive Green Dots); and 4. Strengthening Positive Campus Norms (Proactive Green Dots). Length of the bystander training can range from 3 to 6 hours.
  • Social Marketing: “A broad range of social marketing strategies are utilized to increase basic awareness and mainstream social acceptance of the core language and principles of Green Dot.” (Alteristic, Inc.)
  • Booster Sessions: “Outcomes associated with trainings will be dramatically strengthened if participants have opportunities for positive reinforcement, repeated exposure to the same message, skill-building opportunities, and peer support.” (Alteristic, Inc.)
  • Community Mobilizing Initiatives (CMIs): “The purpose of mobilizing initiatives is to generate lots of proactive behaviors to establish two clear campus norms: (1) violence will not be tolerated, (2) Everyone is expected to do their parts to keep the community safe.” (Alteristic, Inc.) “Events are solution-focused, time-limited, and reiterate the core values and goal of the Green Dot strategy.” (Alteristic, Inc.)

If participants attend both the overview talk and the bystander training, they will receive two doses of the curriculum. Multiple community mobilizing initiatives and booster sessions help reinforce concepts and increase exposure to the strategy on campus.


To implement the Green Dot Strategy, administrators, faculty, and staff from campus must attend a four-day certification training. Onsite or virtual trainings can be requested, or individuals can attend one of the Green Dot Institutes (GDIs) held two to three times per year.

Population Served

General college student body, college administrators, faculty and staff, and community leaders.

Theoretical Basis For Approach

Green Dot focuses heavily on research and theory drawing from an array of fields including social psychology, marketing, and developmental psychology. Current literature on violence against women suggests that, unlike bystander intervention training, programs that simply raise awareness of the topic are not effective strategies for preventing future violence (Anderson & Whiston, 2005). These findings have informed the bystander approach and the overall Green Dot Strategy.

Green Dot’s training goals are to inspire greater action and address common barriers to intervention. Social diffusion theory (Rogers 1983) suggests cultural shifts can naturally spread from the actions of opinion leaders in a community; one “green dot” (new and positive behavior) can turn into a movement with influential individuals on board. One barrier to intervention Green Dot etc. trainings attempt to address is ‘diffusion of responsibility,’ a phenomenon in which individuals are less likely to take action in a situation when there are additional bystanders present under the assumption that others will intervene (Darley & Latane, 1968). Trainings aim to provide and model strategies for successful intervention taking this phenomenon into account.

Often seen as radical work done by a small percentage of the population, Green Dot strives to rebrand anti-violence work on campus by identifying and addressing current concerns within the community. Green Dot’s approach is informed largely by marketing research with the goal of creating an inclusive community-wide movement. Working closely with stakeholders (e.g., students, administrators, and faculty) and hearing their concerns is important to increasing buy-in and support for a successful rebranding effort (Merrilees and Miller, 2008).

Program Effectiveness

Elements of the Green Dot Strategy and the overall impact of the program on campus have been evaluated in multiple studies. Listening to the overview talk has been linked to lower rape myth acceptance while those who attend the bystander intervention training as well engage in bystander intervention behavior more frequently than overview talk attendees alone (Coker et al, 2011).

Research published in 2014 compared three campuses: one implementing the Green Dot Strategy and two with no bystander intervention programming. Rates of perpetration for stalking and sexual harassment were significantly lower for males who had attended the Green Dot Bystander Training than at either comparison school (Coker et al, 2014). Overall, victimization was lower for women and men on the Green Dot campus than at either comparison school and rates were significantly lower for women who attended the Green Dot Bystander Training.


Over 500 colleges and universities have received Green Dot training, including:

  • Creighton University
  • Gonzaga University
  • University of Wyoming
  • Rutgers University
  • Texas A & M
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • University of Florida

Fully implementing the Green Dot Strategy is a long-term investment. On average it takes schools between 3-6 months to launch Green Dot. The first months are spent building infrastructure, planning, mastering content, fostering necessary relationships, and identifying training participants.

Green Dot Bystander Trainings cover similar topics as other bystander-focused programs. As such, the specific tone, implementation techniques, and how programs mesh with a campus may be most important factor to consider when multiple programs are implemented on a single campus.


Alteristic, Inc. determines costs for trainings on a case-by-case basis. There is no pre-determined fee. For more information, please visit:


Anderson, L. A. & Whiston,S. C. (2005). "Sexual assault education programs: A meta-analytic examination of their effectiveness." Psychology of Women Quarterly, 29(4), 374-388. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.2005.00237.x

Coker, A. L., Cook-Craig, P. G., Williams, C. M., Fisher, B. S., Clear, E. R., Garcia, L. S., & Hegge, L. M. (2011). Evaluation of Green Dot: An active bystander intervention to reduce sexual violence on college campuses. Violence against women, 17(6), 777-796. doi:10.1177/1077801211410264

Coker, A. L., Fisher, B. S., Bush, H. M., Swan, S. C., Williams, C. M., Clear, E. R., & DeGue, S. (2014). Evaluation of the Green Dot bystander intervention to reduce interpersonal violence among college students across three campuses. Violence against women, 21(12),1507-27. doi:10.1177/1077801214545284

Darley, J. M., & Latane, B. (1968). Bystander intervention in emergencies: Diffusion of responsibility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 8(4p1), 377-383. doi:10.1037/h0025589

Merrilees, B., & Miller, D. (2008). Principles of corporate rebranding. European Journal of Marketing, 42(5/6), 537-552. doi:10.1108/03090560810862499

Rogers, R. W. (1983). Cognitive and physiological processes in fear appeals and attitude change: A revised theory of protection motivation. In J.T. Cacioppo & R. Petty (eds). Social Psychophysiology: A Sourcebook, 153-176. Baltimore: The Guilford Press.