Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 49.46
Liaison Margaret Bounds
Submission Date March 2, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Connecticut College
EN-6: Assessing Sustainability Culture

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.50 / 1.00 Chad Jones
Former Faculty Director of Sustainability
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution conduct an assessment of sustainability culture (i.e. the assessment focuses on sustainability values, behaviors and beliefs, and may also address awareness of campus sustainability initiatives)?:

Which of the following best describes the cultural assessment? The assessment is administered to::
The entire campus community (students, staff and faculty), directly or by representative sample

Which of the following best describes the structure of the cultural assessment? The assessment is administered::
Without a follow-up assessment of the same cohort or representative samples of the same population

A brief description of how and when the cultural assessment(s) were developed and/or adopted:

The assessment was developed by a sub-group of our Environmental Model Committee. Once we had a draft of the assessment, we had a number of students, faculty and staff test the assessment and provide us with suggested changes before rolling it out to the entire campus population. These questions were first used in 2013. This is a joint Sustainability Literacy Survey and Sustainability Culture Survey. Culture questions are highlighted in the attached file (the literacy questions are included in AC-6). One major goal of our survey is to gauge to what extent the college community understands the holistic concept of sustainability (i.e. that it must consider social and economic aspects of issues in addition to environmental ones) since this has been a major educational focus over the past five years.

A copy or sample of the questions related to sustainability culture:
A sample of the questions related to sustainability culture or the website URL where the assessment tool is available:

See attached file with the questions and responses.

A brief description of how representative samples were reached (if applicable) and how the cultural assessment is administered:

The assessment was administered through the Office of Institutional Research and was sent out to the entire campus community. One reminder email was sent out a week later to those who had not yet completed the survey. We have no campus mechanism for making the survey mandatory, so we relied on voluntary participation. We did not promote this survey in sustainability related venues to reduce over-representation. We also included questions about department or major for students and division for faculty and staff as a way to assess how representative the sample was. Preliminary analysis of the distribution by major is that the sciences were slightly over-represented, but that the distribution generally matched the distribution of majors. For faculty, the weighting towards the sciences was more pronounced and we had underrepresentation from the social sciences.

A brief summary of results from the cultural assessment, including a description of any measurable changes over time:

One area of focus for sustainability efforts at Connecticut College has been to help the community recognize the holistic concept of sustainability and that efforts related to environmental health and social equity can and should be integrated. Results from this survey indicate that while >89% of all groups think that the environment is very related to sustainability, the numbers are much lower for economics (60-81%) and for social justice (58-62%). Only for economics was there a big difference among groups with faculty connecting economics with sustainability at a higher rate (80%) than staff (72%) and students (61%).

Sustainability played a bigger role in students decisions to come to the college (17% said it was very important and 41% somewhat important in their decision) than for faculty (13% and 32%) or staff (9% and 34%). The majority of all those for whom sustainability played a role in their decision to come to the college (60-64%) fell like the college is somewhat fulfilling their expectations relating to sustainability, while 21-26% said the college is fulfilling their expectations and only 14-17% said it was not. Open ended comments provide a variety of suggestions about areas of strengths and weaknesses.

A majority (53-59%) of all groups reported that Connecticut College has supported them in changing their behaviors to be more sustainable. Of those who said no, many commented that they already were committed to sustainable behaviors before coming to college. From the open ended comments there is some need for awareness of the support that is available.

Engaging with community organizations on topics related to environmental, economic and social issues is an important part of the community ethos here at Connecticut College. The majority of faculty (62%) and staff (58%) have given time to a community organization in the past year, compared to a slightly lower percentage of students (47%). It does appear that a relatively small percentage of members of the campus community are carrying the bulk of the engagement (4-9% spending time with community organizations on a weekly or more frequent basis).

Respondents to the survey were personally most strongly committed to the environment (49-62% strongly committed) compared to social justice (40-45%) and economic stability (19-32%). Given the importance of social justice issues on campus generally (even survey respondents felt the college is more committed to social justice than the environment), these results suggest that we may have an over-representation of individuals focused on environmental issues in our survey.

Interestingly, a small proportion of respondents from each group (16-20%) felt that Connecticut College is very committed to economic stability. Perhaps this has to do with the high tuition business model of higher education, and particularly selective, residential liberal arts colleges. A slightly higher proportion of respondents feel like the college is very committed to the environment (22-26%) and especially social justice (30-40%). Some members of the college community feel that the college is either somewhat or very uncommitted to economic stability (15-24%), the environment (11-17%) and social justice (9-14%).

Taken together these results suggest that the college is attracting students, faculty and staff because of sustainability efforts and that it is supporting many individuals in becoming more sustainable. However the college has considerable work to do to integrate efforts related to sustainability and especially to demonstrate the College’s commitment to all areas of sustainability.

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

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

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