Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 61.51
Liaison Karen Eckert, Ph.D.
Submission Date March 5, 2021
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Principia College
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Karen Eckert, Ph.D.
Professor and Director
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 (i.e. an assessment focused on student knowledge of sustainability topics and challenges)?:
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 sample of the questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment or the website URL where the assessment tool may be found:
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A brief description of how the literacy assessment was developed and/or when it was adopted:

The survey was developed by the Center for Sustainability with support from the Principia College Student Senate and the Office of Institutional Effectiveness. It was beta-tested by the Sustainability Club prior to its distribution campus-wide. The "pre" and "post" surveys were distributed in 2015 and 2018, respectively.


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

The survey was first administered as an intercept survey on Earth Day, and later distributed by email to the student body, as well as posted on Facebook.


A brief summary of results from the literacy assessment(s), including a description of any measurable changes over time:

The survey sought to measure student knowledge of core sustainability topics, and the results were heartening. We found a consistently high (83-89%) understanding of basic sustainability principles; e.g., 85% (2015) and 83% (2018) of respondents knew that “sustainable businesses operate on a principle often referred to as the Triple Bottom Line” and that “People, Planet, Profit” is often used to describe this multidisciplinary approach; 85% (2015) and 83% (2018) could characterize a multi-pronged approach for a Fortune 500 company seeking to implement a program of corporate social responsibility (CSR); 83% (2015) and 85% (2018) could characterize a multi-pronged approach for a community seeking to “most effectively promote an environmentally sustainable future"; and 85% (2015) and 89% (2018) thought that “persons seeking to promote a more sustainable future” should look for an indication of fair labor practices, ‘green’ certifications, use of renewable energy during manufacturing and transport, and community-based philanthropy.

97% knew that “the three components of sustainability—environmental protections and stewardship, social equity, and positive financial performance—become inseparable from each other when true sustainability is achieved."

89% (both years) chose “energy sources that are infinitely renewable and do not produce harmful emissions” over other choices (e.g., locally extracted and refined carbon-based fuels, fuels made from biological materials, etc.) when asked “Which of the following fuels do you consider to be the most sustainable over the long-term?”

Finally, 81% (2015) and 83% (2018) "strongly agreed" when asked, "It's important to me that Principia has a strong commitment to sustainability.” In one interesting way the second survey differed from the first - and that is when asked what initiatives would demonstrate this commitment, the top three answers in 2015 were campus-wide recycling and composting, renewable energy production, and "green" purchasing policies. In 2018, the top three answers were sourcing local/organic/sustainable food, "green" purchasing policies, and achieving a LEED certified building.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:

The url https://sites.google.com/principia.edu/principiasustainability/ works for, but it was flagged by the AASHE peer-review as broken in the "optional url" field so I deleted it.

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