Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 72.00
Liaison Jessica Krejcik
Submission Date Dec. 22, 2021

STARS v2.2

Concordia University
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Cassandra Lamontagne
Sustainability Coordinator
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution conduct an assessment of the sustainability literacy of its students?:

Which of the following best describes the literacy assessment? The assessment is administered to::
The entire (or predominate) student body, directly or by representative sample

Which of the following best describes the structure of the assessment? The assessment is administered as a::
Pre- and post-assessment to the same cohort or to representative samples in both a pre- and post-test

A copy of the questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment(s):
A list or sample of the questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment or the website URL where the assessment tool may be found:

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

The 2021 SCLA survey was disseminated on October 5th and was open for three weeks, closing on October 25th, 2021. The survey was designed to meet requirements under AASHE’s STARS, version 2.2, and the objectives of the Office of Sustainability. The first section, not required under STARS, was designed to assess the influence of sustainability in students’ enrollment decisions. It included two questions for first year students only. The next section was on sustainability culture and engagement on and off campus. It included questions designed to generate opinions, thoughts, and beliefs about sustainability. The questions in this section were not associated with right or wrong answers, but were rather intended to collect data about how the Concordia population perceives sustainability, where they obtain information about sustainability, and how aware the community is about sustainability initiatives on campus.

The last section of the survey was designed to assess the sustainability literacy of the Concordia population. This section comprised of multiple choice and true or false questions where each is associated with at least one right or wrong answer. All survey questions (approximately 55) were mandatory, except an optional open-ended question at the end of the survey. The open-ended questions asked participants to write down what they think Concordia could be doing better to advance sustainability goals.

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

In October 2021, Concordia’s Office of Sustainability, jointly with the Office of Institutional Planning and Analysis (OIPA), disseminated the university’s second comprehensive sustainability cultural and literacy assessment (SCLA). The online survey was sent to all full/part-time faculty, full-time staff, and to a representative sample of graduate and undergraduate students. Survey invitations were sent to 14,960 participants and resulted in 1,895 individual responses for a rate of 12.7%. The margin of error (at 95% confidence interval) was 2.1%. Two reminder emails were sent out to survey participants.

A brief summary of results from the literacy assessment(s):

To begin, the sustainability literacy section included five multiple choice questions. The correct answers are highlighted in gold. In general, a higher percentage of faculty/staff than students identified the correct answers to the questions below. The first question asked survey participants to identify the most commonly used definition of sustainable development. Of the multiple-choice questions, the highest percentage of students (56%) and faculty/staff (67%) answer correctly.

Survey participants were then asked to identify the concepts that are included in the commonly used “three pillars” or “concentric circles” models of sustainability. Approximately 39% of students and 48% of faculty/staff identified the correct answer. Approximately a quarter of students and faculty/staff believed the correct answer to be Environment, Society and Technology. A little over 25% of students and faculty and staff did not know the answer.

The two questions about Indigenous topics and challenges were created in consultation with Concordia’s Indigenous Directions Office. Survey participants were asked to identify whose land Concordia University is situated on. Approximately 76% of faculty/staff and 41% of students indicated the correct answer. Of the multiple-choice questions, the highest percentage of faculty/staff successfully identified the correct answer. This could be a result of increased teaching and awareness of Concordia’s land acknowledgement to faculty/staff. However, this question also had the highest percentage of students (49.4%) not knowing the correct answer.

The last section of the sustainability literacy section included ten true or false questions about various sustainability topics. Again, participants could answer “I don’t know” to each question.

The first multiple choice question asked if Canadians currently have the right to a healthy environment as recognized by federal law. Both students and staff did poorly on this question with approximately 53% of students and 45% of faculty/staff answering incorrectly. Only 7% of students and slightly more faculty/staff (9%) chose the correct answer. The low success rate of this question could be in part because the Canadian government has several laws protecting the environment, however it does not have a federal law that recognizes that its citizens have a right to a healthy environment.

The following question was about the UN Sustainable Development Goals. More students (23%) and faculty/staff (41%) correctly answered the question than the previous question on federal laws. However, approximately 54% of students and 45% of faculty/staff did not know the answer.

Survey participants were then asked a question about the percentage of the Earth’s water that is available as fresh drinking water. Of the true or false questions, this is the only question where more students (60%) than faculty/staff (52%) answered correctly. Concordia community members seemed to know more about this topic than the previous two questions as the success rate was higher and fewer community members indicated “I don’t know”.

A post-assessment is scheduled for 2024.

Website URL where information about the sustainability literacy assessment 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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.