Overall Rating Expired
Overall Score Expired
Liaison Megan Litke
Submission Date Jan. 31, 2011
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.0

American University
ER-13: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Expired Emily Curley
Sustainability Coordinator
Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Has the institution conducted a sustainability literacy assessment?:
Yes

Did the assessment include a baseline evaluation of students and then a follow-up evaluation of the same cohort?:
Yes

A copy of the questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment:
A copy of the questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment :

See attached.


A brief description of how the assessment was developed:

By consulting other schools' assessments and considering the projects underway on campus, several questions were developed to gauge knowledge about sustainability topics, to have students rate the importance of those topics, and to get a sense of their attitudes related to sustainability as a whole.


A brief description of how the assessment was administered:

The American University Green Eagles, AU's "ecorep" program, emailed the survey to students living in residence halls.


A brief summary of results from the assessment:

401 students completed the assessment.

AU’s resident students generally consider themselves to have behaviors that reflect sustainability and they indicate strong interest in learning more about sustainability while at AU. Seventy five percent of survey respondents say their lifestyle reflects their knowledge of sustainability and 60% say their lifestyle has become more sustainable since enrolling at AU. Seventy percent say they want to learn more about sustainability as a student at AU, and 45% say they would take courses or degrees in sustainability if they were offered in their area of academic interest. Thirty percent report having considered sustainability issues when they decided to enroll at AU.

Virtually all students surveyed agreed that “sustainability includes social, environmental, and economic factors.” Their rating of important sustainability issues reflects this definition, with “access to health care,” “racial equality,” and “fair trade” all receiving high indications of importance.

Surveyed students say climate change is the sustainability issue about which they are most knowledgeable, with 75% saying they have a working knowledge or are well versed in the issue. However, only 68% say conserving energy is “very important,” and only 38% say carbon offsets are “very important,” demonstrating that knowledge about the climate change solutions is trailing behind awareness of the problem – identifying an opportunity for AU to provide education on this issue.

There is a similar disconnect related to clean water. “Access to clean water,” was the highest rated sustainability issue, with 91% saying it is “very important.” But only 68% say “conserving water” is very important – perhaps indicating a tendency for some students to disassociate their personal behavior with what they believe should be broader environmental priorities.

Overall, AU students report awareness of AU’s sustainability programs, demonstrate knowledge of a broad range of sustainability issues, and often adapt their behavior to reflect their knowledge of sustainability. However, some students have yet to fully connect specific behaviors, especially consumption patterns, with sustainability issues such as climate change and access to clean water.


The website URL where information about the literacy assessment is available:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.