Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 77.02
Liaison Laura Bain
Submission Date June 22, 2021

STARS v2.2

Furman University
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
4.00 / 4.00 Laura Bain
Associate Director of Sustainability Assessment
David E. Shi Center for Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

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

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:

Q15
The next section will gauge your current knowledge of sustainability. It’s ok if you do not know all of the answers. Please do not use outside information to respond to these questions.

Q86
Which of the following is NOT one of the United Nation's 17 Sustainable Development Goals?
• No poverty
• Gender equality
• Space exploration
• Climate action
• Quality education

Q39
Life cycle analysis is:
• The amount of environmental impact that the average person creates within their lifetime
• A measure of the resources needed to sustain a person’s lifestyle
• An assessment of the total environmental impact of a product from the time the raw materials are gathered to their ultimate disposal
• A comparative analysis of an individual’s carbon footprint based on one’s quality of life

Q27
Which one of the following is NOT typically considered one of the three components of sustainability?
• Society
• Democracy
• Environment
• Economy

Q25
The Earth’s current population is estimated at:
• 3.4 billion
• 5.2 billion
• 7.5 billion
• 9.6 billion
• 12.1 billion

Q85
Which of the following foods is the most carbon intensive to produce?
• Chicken
• Fish
• Beef
• Pork

Q26
Which country is the largest emitter of total greenhouse gases?
• China
• United States
• India
• Brazil
• Russia

Q43
People often talk about the “Three Rs” in waste management. While all are helpful, they have varying degrees of impact on natural resources. Which of the following is NOT one of the Three R's.
• Recycling an aluminum can.
• Reusing an old t-shirt as a cleaning rag.
• Reorganizing your closet to save space.
• Reducing your fuel consumption by biking instead of driving.

Q28
What is the name of the primary federal agency that oversees environmental regulation in the United States?
• Environmental Protection Agency (the EPA)
• Department of Health, Environment, and Safety (the DHES)
• National Natural Conservation Agency (the NNCA)
• Federal Pollution Control Agency (the FPCA)

Q29
The term for the benefits that nature provides such as clean water, clean air, productive soils, and pollination of plants is:
• Ecosystem services
• Environmental Economics
• Ecological Footprint
• Resilience
• Environmental Conservation

Q30
The amount of carbon on Earth is an example of a/an:
• Closed system, with the same amount of carbon staying in each pool
• Closed system, with carbon moving between different pools
• Open system, with the same ratio of carbon staying in each pool
• Open system, with carbon moving between different pools

Q77
Which of the following is the most commonly used definition of sustainable development?
• Setting aside resources for preservation, never to be used
• Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs
• Building a neighborhood that is socio-demographically and economically diverse
• Creating a government welfare system that ensures universal access to education, healthcare, and social services

Q41
What are believed to be the key factors that influence human impact on the Earth? (choose all that apply)
• The number of people on the planet
• The amount of materials used per person
• The use of technology
• The enforcement of governmental regulations

Q40
Certain substances in the atmosphere, such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, influence the Earth’s temperature and climate. These substances are commonly referred to as:
• Ozone
• Solar gases
• Ultraviolet Light
• Radiation
• Greenhouse gases

Q38
Who is Furman’s primary energy provider?
• Duke Energy
• Santee Cooper
• South Carolina Electric and Gas
• Tennessee Valley Authority
• We generate the majority of our energy on campus

Q37
What is the primary electricity generation source for Furman’s energy provider?
• Solar
• Coal
• Wind
• Hydropower
• Nuclear

Q36
Furman aspires to be carbon neutral by what year?
• 2020
• 2026
• 2033
• 2050
• 2100

Q42
The largest contributor to the university’s carbon footprint is:
• Faculty, Staff, and Student Commuting
• Study Abroad Travel
• Purchased Electricity
• Natural Gas
• Campus Paper Use

Q35
Which of the following currently CAN be recycled on campus? (choose all that apply)
• Paper
• Glass
• Plastics 1 – 2
• Plastics 3 – 7
• Cardboard
• Aluminum Cans
• Batteries and Electronic Waste

Q34
The 743 kilowatt solar installation across from the main gate, called the “Solar Farm,” has reduced Furman’s electricity bill by about ______.
• 0%
• 5 –10 %
• 15 – 20%
• 25 – 30%
• 45 – 50%

Q33
Furman Lake is part of what watershed?
• Saluda River
• Enoree River
• Catawba River
• Broad River
• Greenville River


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

The assessment was developed by conducting a review of other school’s sustainability literacy surveys, identifying the most common similarities, compiling the most appropriate questions that covered a comprehensive array of literacy topics, and obtaining feedback from selected faculty members to ensure a broad base of questions were chosen. These questions were included in a survey also designed to obtain feedback on individual’s perceptions and behaviors related to specific sustainability topics. A staff member from the Shi Institute for Sustainable collaborated with the university’s Assistant Director of Institutional Assessment and Research and a highly-qualified research staff member to develop the survey instrument and sampling methodology. The current version of the survey was adopted in 2017 and modified slightly in 2020.


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

The assessment was administered as part of Furman’s Sustainability Survey which has been administered to students, faculty, and staff, every third year since 2008. In 2020, the survey was sent to all students, all faculty, and all staff. The survey was administered through the Qualtrics survey platform and distributed via an individual e-mail with one follow-up reminder email to unfinished respondents. In order to encourage participation and completion of the survey, the first 125 respondents to complete the survey were offered an incentive valued at $10.

There were 703 respondents to the assessment. Respondent demographics were:
70% student (493)
8% faculty (55)
22% staff (153) and

gender descriptions were:
69% female (487)
29% male (205)
0.29% prefer to self describe (2)
0.29% prefer not to answer (2)
and 0.71% identify as non-binary (5)

Class descriptions were:
25% Freshmen (124)
27% Sophomores (133)
23% Juniors (111)
24% Seniors (119)


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

The literacy questions were scored with the lowest possible score of 0 and the highest possible score of 27. The mean literacy assessment scores for various groups:

All respondents: 17.98

Student: 17.8
Faculty: 20.2
Staff: 18

Male: 18.6
Female: 17.7

Freshmen: 16.9
Sophomores: 17.2
Junior: 18.6
Seniors:18.8

Earth and Environmental Science Majors (including double majors) averaged a score of: 21.25
Sustainability Science Majors (including double majors) averaged a score of: 22.9

The lowest score achieved was 6 and the highest was 27.

Longitudinal results: The average score of Freshmen students who completed the survey in 2017 was 13.5. The average score of Senior students in 2020 (representing the same group of students) was 18.8 indicating an increase in sustainability literacy over their time at Furman.


Website URL where information about the sustainability literacy assessment is available:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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