Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 70.12
Liaison Ciannat Howett
Submission Date July 25, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Emory University
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Peggy Barlett
Goodrich C. White Professor
"---" 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::
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 sample of the questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment or the website URL where the assessment tool may be found:
Our committee developed an instrument that we hope can be completed in 10 minutes, focused on 4 areas of information: a. knowledge of areas of sustainability behavior change that are relevant to student lives; b. knowledge of Emory’s topical sustainability initiatives; c. sustainability identity and students’ commitments as persons who care about sustainability (to assess shift over their time at Emory); d. and knowledge of sustainability topics and challenges. The actual survey questions are attached. Emory uses a single assessment for both literacy and culture.

A brief description of how the literacy assessment was developed and/or when it was adopted:
Faculty from Sociology, Nursing, and Anthropology met in May, 2014, to develop a brief sustainability literacy survey for Emory undergraduate students. Additional faculty in Sociology/Oxford, Biology/Oxford, Japanese, and Public Health supported the efforts. The goal was to develop a pilot survey, to test whether we can get meaningful results, using the research generated by Drs. Karen Hegtvedt and Cathy Johnson on the sustainability-themed residence hall over the last decade. The 2014 pilot initial and follow-up surveys provided meaningful results, so starting in 2015, faculty slightly revised the survey to ask more current questions. In 2016, the faculty added a new section to meet the criteria for both sustainability literacy and cultural assessments. The survey was administered to all undergraduate students in summer, 2014, and to all undergraduate and graduate students in summer of 2015 and 2016. It will be administered each year to assess change over time and follow up with the same representative sample of all students each year.

A brief description of how a representative sample was reached (if applicable) and how the assessment(s) were administered :
An online survey was distributed to all undergraduate students in July 2014, including graduating seniors and rising freshman, and has been administered to all graduate and undergraduate students in 2015 and 2016. In this way, the entire student body is surveyed and followed up with. To enhance participation, we offer a raffle for three $100 gift cards.

A brief summary of results from the literacy assessment(s), including a description of any measurable changes over time:
Overall, 68% of respondents report a “Moderate” or higher increase in their sustainability-related behavior since being at Emory, and 70% of respondents report that engaging in sustainability-related behavior is important to them. In addition, 75% of respondents report a “Moderate” or higher increase in their awareness of social justice since being at Emory. Respondents were more likely to “Moderately” to “Completely” agree with common sustainability knowledge than they were to practice sustainability-related behaviors. A few knowledge assessments included in the survey are: power generation using fossil fuels can have negative impacts on natural environments and public health; landfill waste produces methane; and using low-impact transportation reduces the burning of fossil fuels. Over 84% of respondents “Moderately” to “Completely” found these sustainability statements to be accurate. Statements which were least familiar to the respondents included: policies to preserve forest canopy, such as Emory’s commitment to campus woodlands and the No Net Loss of Forest Canopy policy, help reduce the urban heat island effect; and the federal Clean Air and Clean Water Acts have led to cleaner air and improved water quality across the US over the last 30 years, with 22.20% and 22.71% of respondents indicating that they do not know enough to determine the accuracy of these beliefs. On a similar note, the two most familiar concepts to respondents were: carbon footprint and bio-diversity, with 93.05% and 87.61% of respondents reporting being familiar with these. The least familiar concepts reported were inter-generational equity and precautionary principle, with 34.04% and 27.39% familiarity respectively.

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:
Data reported for 2015-2016 academic year.

Data reported for 2015-2016 academic year.

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