Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 76.63
Liaison Karen Oberer
Submission Date Dec. 11, 2020

STARS v2.2

McGill University
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 4.00 Karen Oberer
Sustainability Officer
McGill 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?:
Yes

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

Sustainability Literacy Questions
1. Which of the following statements about the relationship between environmental issues and socioeconomic issues are true:
a. Statement 1: people living in poverty are disproportionately impacted by climate change because they are more likely to live in areas threatened by water scarcity, vector-borne disease, and/or potential damage from storms and floods.
b. Statement 2: Wealthier people are disproportionately impacted by climate change because they are more likely to own properties and businesses that can be negatively influenced by water scarcity, vector-borne disease, and/or potential damage from storms and floods.
c. Statement 3: People of all socioeconomic classes are equally impacted by climate change, but for different reasons.
d. Statement 4: Environmental issues and socioeconomic issues are unrelated.
e. None of the above
f. I do not know

2. In North America, which of the following would have the greatest impact on reducing your personal carbon footprint? (1=greatest impact; 4=least impact)
a. Washing your clothes in cold water
b. Eat a plant-based diet
c. Avoid one round-trip trans-Atlantic Flight
d. Upgrade light bulbs
e. I do not know

3. According to Second Harvest, Canada’s largest food rescue organization, what percentage of all food produced in Canada is lost or wasted?
a. 58%
b. 25%
c. 13%
d. 0%
e. I do not know

4. Choose the best definition of “sustainable development”:
a. Continual growth over a period of time, as measured in per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
b. Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
c. Research and Development (R&D) of environmental technologies such as electric cars and solar power.
d. Reserving land and resources for preservation so they never can be used.
e. I do not know

5. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 interconnected categories that address the global challenges that human society faces, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. Which one of the following is not an SDG as defined by the United Nations?
a. Zero Hunger
b. Reduced Inequalities
c. Climate Action
d. Safe and Enjoyable Consumption
e. I do not know

6. What are Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria used for? Please choose the most appropriate answer below:
a. They are used by the United Nations to measure the sustainability goals of individual higher education institutions
b. They are the three central factors in measuring the sustainability and societal impact of an investment in a company or business
c. They are the three elements that the Canadian government uses in order to measure the sustainability of federal ministries
d. They are categories that rate the sustainability of museums and other cultural institutions
e. I do not know

7. What is the objective of a “circular economy” model?
a. To produce goods and services while limiting the consumption and waste of raw materials, water and energy sources
b. To reduce, reuse, and recycle
c. To enable corporations to circulate their profits throughout their administrative units
d. To produce as many products as possible
e. I do not know

8. According to Our World in Data, Canadians consumed an average of 82.62 kilograms of meat (excluding fish and seafood) per person in 2017. Which of the following consequences are the result of the global over-production of meat? (Choose all that apply):
a. Clearing the natural habitats of wildlife for agricultural uses
b. Ocean and freshwater eutrophication (the pollution of waterways with nutrient-rich pollutants)
c. Extreme stress on freshwater resources
d. Unequal distribution of land use between livestock and crops for human consumption
e. All of the above
f. I do not know


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

The literacy assessment was developed with STARS in mind; since McGill administers an annual sustainability culture survey, it was decided that it would be best to combine it with a sustainability literacy survey. This decision means that students are less likely to suffer from survey fatigue. The results will also produce a baseline to which we will be able to measure students' progress in sustainability literacy. The results may help McGill develop a university-wide course in which all students would be permitted to register, a project that is in its early stages.


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

Below is an explanation of how our 2019 Sustainability Survey -- which only assessed sustainability culture -- was administered. The 2020 Sustainability Survey will include a literacy component, but will be administered in a similar way. We will ensure that we reach a representative sample in our 2020 survey.

The 2019 Sustainability Survey was administered by Analysis, Planning, and Budget at McGill University via the Limesurvey platform. It was in-field from November 12 to December 13, 2019, and available in both in English and French. The response rate was 25.3% (or 1060 out of 4190 participants).

The sample comprised 33% administrative staff, 33% faculty, and 33% students and was representative overall. The sample size was calculated based on a target 25% response rate, and a tolerance for a 4% margin of error. To ensure better representations across these subpopulations in future surveys, sampling of administrative staff, faculty, and students will be proportional to the total size of those populations.


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

Not yet available; survey is to be implemented in November 2020.

In Fall 2017, the Sulitest was sent to 20,011 McGill students and had a 2% response rate (413 respondents). All questions were categorized under the "Knowledge" module and divided into 4 themes: "sustainable humanity and ecosystems"; "global and local human-constructed systems"; "transition towards sustainability"; and "role to play, individual and systemic change."

Students performed best in "transition toward sustainability" and "global and local human-constructed systems," receiving results that were on average 11.5% above the global benchmark and 8% above the Canadian benchmark. By contrast, students demonstrated a need for improvement in "sustainable humanity and ecosystems," receiving a score 7% lower than the global benchmark and 4% below the Canadian benchmark.


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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