Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 66.71
Liaison Greg Kozak
Submission Date March 6, 2020

STARS v2.2

Northwestern University
EN-6: Assessing Sustainability Culture

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.25 / 1.00 Sarah Tulga
Sustainability Program Coordinator
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution conduct an assessment of sustainability culture?:

Which of the following best describes the cultural assessment? The assessment is administered to::
A subset of the campus community or a sample that may not be representative of the entire community

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 cultural assessment was developed by the sustainNU staff to assess student beliefs, values, actions, and awareness around sustainability and environmental issues. It is intended as a pilot to assess the student sustainability culture for one of sustainNU’s main audiences, students.

For value and identity, the assessment pulled questions from the Environmental Identity (EID) scale developed by Dr. Susan Clayton in the paper: Clayton, S. (2003). Environmental identity: A conceptual and an operational definition. In S. Clayton, & S. Opotow (Eds.), Identity and the natural environment. The psychological significance of nature (pp. 45–65). Cambridge: The MIT Press. Specifically, questions around nature and other species were chosen as empathy and connected towards nature is known to promote environmental stewardship, which is one of the key aims of communications and engagement objectives within Northwesterns Strategic Sustainability Plan.

For the behavior section, we were interested in three main areas where sustainNU conducts a lot of outreach around: recycling, living more sustainably, and sharing environmental news or things they have learned with others.

For the belief section, the assessment focused on measuring the presence and agreement with two very different cultural models of viewing who is responsible for making sustainability changes identified by the Frameworks Institute, the Individualism model and the Government As Protector model.

For the awareness section, sustainNU was interested in measuring the awareness of our program with students. This question is also asked in other surveys and tools, like the transportation survey.

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:

The following questions were asked to be ranked from strongly disagree to strongly agree on a five point scale.
Engaging in environmental behaviors is important to me.
I think of myself as a part of nature, not separate from it.
I feel like we have a lot in common with other species.

The following questions were asked to be ranked from never to always on a five point scale.
I try my best to recycle properly.
I consciously make changes to live a more sustainable life (e.g. reduce waste, use a water bottle, bring reusable bags, bike more).
I share environmental news or sustainability tips with my friends, family, and community.

The following questions were asked to be ranked from strongly disagree to strongly agree on a five point scale.
I believe that changing my individual actions will have a positive impact on environmental problems.
I believe that changing policies and institutional systems is the only way to have a positive impact on environmental problems.

The following question was asked to be ranked from never heard of it to strongly familiar on a five point scale.
Are you familiar with sustainNU?

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

sustainNU partnered with the Student Organizations & Activities department to administer this survey. It was sent to all of the presidents of the 500+ registered student organizations. Additionally, it was sent to the sustainNU Sustainability Student Leaders list serve which is made up of 87 students who are interested in sustainability news and opportunities. Many of these students are involved with sustainability-oriented student groups.

This data collection method was interested in targeting students in as many student groups as possible and capture both sustainability interested and not interested students for a complete sample.

A brief summary of results from the cultural assessment:

Students from both sustainability-oriented student groups and non-sustainability-oriented groups completed the survey.

Since the survey was a voluntary submission, the sample may be more sustainability-oriented folks than less aware or interested students. Because of this, the majority of the questions saw high levels of agreement or awareness. For the identity and value questions, the only question which didn’t see majority high levels of agreement was, “I feel like we have a lot in common with other species.” For the behavior questions, all respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they consciously make changes to live a more sustainable life and try to recycle properly. For the believe section, there was stronger agreement with the individual actions question than the policies and institutional systems. This may be an artifact of the question structure where the policies and institutional systems question was more strict (only) whereas the individual actions questions just tested that the actions would have a positive impact.

These very preliminary results are positive; however, the response rate was quite low and we are interested in continuing to refine our measurement tools prior to roll out to a large sample.

Website URL where information about the assessment of sustainability culture is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

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