Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 54.99
Liaison Denice Koljonen
Submission Date Feb. 6, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Boston College
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 4.00 Tara Pisani
Assistant Professor
Earth and Envronment
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution conduct an assessment of the sustainability literacy of its students (i.e. an assessment focused on student knowledge of sustainability topics and challenges)?:

Which of the following best describes the literacy assessment? The assessment is administered to::
A subset of students or a sample that may not be representative of the predominant student body

Which of the following best describes the structure of the assessment? The assessment is administered as a::
Standalone evaluation without a follow-up assessment of the same cohort or representative samples

A copy of the questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment(s):

A sample of the questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment or the website URL where the assessment tool may be found:

What are the three pillars of sustainability? (If you do not know, please write "I don't know")

Please indicate which of the following is a renewable energy resource? (Check all that apply) Choices: Oil, Geothermal, Coal, Wind, Solar, Nuclear, Hydropower, Biomass, Other:[Fill in]

Which of the following actions can we take to prepare for a changing climate? (check all that apply) Choices: Construct buildings on wetlands, Reduce green space, Grow the urban tree canopy, Increase paved parking lots, We do not need to prepare for climate change, I do not know

Carbon Dioxide, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, Chlorofluorocarbons and Ozone are all:
Choices: Gases found on Mars, Greenhouse gases, Okay for humans to breathe, Needed to reduce global warming, I do not know

The idea that environmental quality and social equity are as important as economic stability and growth is known as:
Choices: Triple bottom line (planet, people, profits), A business strategy, Sustainable business practices, I do not know

Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or socio-economic status with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. Please rate your familiarity with the topic of Environmental Justice:
Choices: No familiarity - I've never heard of Environmental Justice, Very little familiarity - I have heard the term Environmental Justice used before, Some familiarity - I knew about the term Environmental Justice before this survey, Very familiar - I have studied in this field either personally or academically.

How knowledgeable are you (1= not knowledgeable to 4= Extremely Knowledgeable) about the following sustainability concepts:
Climate change, Carbon footprint, Ecological footprint, Tragedy of the commons, Limits to growth, Biodiversity Conservation, Environmental externalities, Precautionary principle, Inter-generational equity, Social justice, Environmental racism.

A brief description of how the literacy assessment was developed and/or when it was adopted:

As part of their research seminar, a group of three Environmental Studies seniors developed the questions and conducted the survey as part of a pilot survey on the sustainability culture at Boston College. The research was conducted over a semester and presented in a poster symposium at Boston College.

A brief description of how a representative sample was reached (if applicable) and how the assessment(s) were administered :

The students sent the survey request to department heads and asked that they send it to their undergraduate listserv. Not all department heads responded or agreed to send out the survey. The undergraduate researchers also targeted student clubs. Ultimately the students got a sample size of 164 responses. The pilot survey provides some preliminary data on how people understand sustainability.

A brief summary of results from the literacy assessment(s), including a description of any measurable changes over time:

Overall, results from the preliminary assessment of sustainability literacy point to an understanding of basic concepts (renewable energy, climate change, carbon footprint), but less understanding about more specific ideas (precautionary principle, tragedy of the commons, inter-generational equity, and environmental justice).

A large majority of the respondents reported "I do not know" the three pillars of sustainability. Of those that did report knowledge, the most common answer was "reduce, reuse, recycle."

The majority of participants were able to successfully identify renewable energy sources.

76% answered correctly, Which of the following actions can we take to prepare for a changing climate?

93% answered correctly, Carbon Dioxide, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, Chlorofluorocarbons and Ozone are all: [Greenhouse gases]

Less than a quarter of the respondents were very or somewhat familiar with environmental justice, while over half had no to very little familiarity with EJ.

37% of the population was "not knowledgeable" with environmental racism, while 48% reported "extremely knowledgeable" about social justice.

There was a significant difference in the total environmental literacy scores between students who have had 0 to 1 environmental class at BC versus students who reported having two or more environmental classes.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

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.