Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 75.64
Liaison Yolanda Cieters
Submission Date March 2, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Seattle University
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Phillip Thompson
"---" 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:

Check what applies:

1. Most scientists believe that climate change is happening.
2. Human behavior plays a significant part in climate change.
3. The lives of many people living near the Pacific Ocean are threatened by the melting of glaciers in Greenland.
4. Climate and Weather mean pretty much the same thing.
5. The fact that we cannot predict climate accurately, even a few years into the future, proves that we do not understand what factors influence climate.
6. Recent mild winters prove that climate change is not happening.
7. Change in atmospheric carbon dioxide over the past 100 years has been a slow steady increase.

1. Increasing the use of wind turbines could eliminate our dependence on foreign oil within a few years.
2. Water (hydroelectric) is considered a "renewable" energy source.
3. Coal is considered a "renewable" energy source.
4. The largest use of energy per year in a typical US home is lighting.
5. A typical home refrigerator requires more energy per year than a typical desktop personal computer.
6. Most electricity in the US is produced by burning coal.
7. The origin of all fossil fuels is the decomposition of dinosaur bones.
8. Wind energy is theoretically possible but not a practical source of renewable energy.

1. The major cause of coral bleaching--the death of coral reefs--is chemical spills in the oceans.
2. There is no need to conserve water because water is constantly being replenished by the earth's natural water cycles.
3. Fewer people in the world have access to clean water than have access to cell phones.
4. Switching from meat to vegetable meals in the U. S. can make more clean fresh water available to people in developing countries.
5. The amount of high quality, fertile land for growing food products, worldwide, is constantly decreasing.
6. It is important to preserve plants and animals that are threatened by extinction.
7. The earth, plants, and animals exist only for the support of humans.
8. Soil erosion peaked during the Dust Bowl (1930s); in today's world, it is no longer a problem.

1. We will always have enough resources. When something runs out, we find it somewhere else or find something else that works just as well.
2. What we do today affects the lifestyles of future generations.
3. My responsibility is to myself and my family, not to the world or to the future.
4. The best way to deal with waste is to seal it away so that it cannot affect us.

1. The best measure of the quality of life for an individual is material wealth.
2. The best measure of the quality of life for a society is gross national product.
3. Abuses of the environment disproportionately diminish the lives of the poor.
4. My decisions and actions affect me and those close to me, not other people or places around the globe.

1. Businesses should be concerned not only with making profits but also with the welfare of their employees and the communities in which they operate.
2. Businesses must be profitable to survive.
3. The only proper objective of business is to maximize its profits.
4. Businesses should pay their employees and their suppliers fair compensation, even if that is more than the market requires.
5. Businesses have an obligation to make positive contributions to society.
6. I am willing to pay more for products from business that are socially responsible.

Definitions of Terms
1. On foods, the label "organic" means the food is not genetically modified.
2. On meats, the label "free range" means the animal had access to the outdoors.
3. On meats the label "grass fed" means the animal had some grass in its diet.
4. On coffee or other products, the label "Fair Trade" means the products are extra high quality.
5. On appliances, the label "Energy Star" means the products are made of recycled materials.
6. On products, the label "natural" has no legal meaning.
7. On products, the label "recyclable" means that the material in the product can be used to make more of the same product.
8. On products, the label "made of recycled material" means that the product is of low quality.
9. A "carbon tax" would prevent the manufacture or sale of products that add carbon to the atmosphere.
10. A "carbon cap and trade policy" would set a limit on the total amount of carbon added to the atmosphere.
11. A business practices "triple bottom line" planning when it focuses on unit sales, dollar sales, and market share.

Overall Knowledge
1. In general, I think I know everything I need to know about sustainability.
Attitude Measures
1. People should recycle and reuse, even if it is less convenient.
2. People should choose a method of transportation other than driving a car alone, even if it is less convenient.
3. People should be willing to lower the quality of their lives in order that other people in the world can live better.
4. People should be willing to spend more to get products and services that are better for the environment.
5. People should be willing to spend more to get products and services, if that is what it takes to make life better for other people.
6. People should support higher taxes, if that is what it takes to make life better for other people.
7. In general, I think climate change issues are among the most important challenges in the world today.
8. In general, I think energy issues are among the most important challenges in the world today.
9. In general, I think environmental threats are among the most important challenges in the world today.
10. In general, I think social justice issues are among the most important challenges in the world today.
11. In general, I think the effects of businesses on society are among the most important challenges in the world today.

Behaviors (never-every single opportunity)
1. When you buy produce, you buy organic produce.
2. When you buy coffee, or tea, you buy shade grown coffee or tea.
3. When you buy seafood, you buy seafood certified as sustainable.
4. When you buy seafood, you buy farm-raised seafood.
5. When you buy eggs, you buy organic eggs.
6. When you buy dairy products, you buy organic dairy products.
7. When you buy meat, you buy organic meat.
8. When you buy beef, you buy grass-fed beef.
9. When you buy paper products, you buy recycled-content paper products.
10. Choose mass transit as a means of local travel.
11. Use car/van pool for travel to work or school.
12. Choose bicycling for local travel.
13. Choose walking for local travel.
14. Consider the working conditions of product producers, before buying.
15. Boycott a company because of its social practices.
16. Voted for or supported a candidate because of his/her position on environmental issues.

1. How much did SU's sustainability practices and program contribute to your decision to enroll here?

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

The Sustainability Literacy assessment was adopted in August 2013.

SUSTLIT is a standardized questionnaire designed to assess aptitude in sustainability. The questionnaire measures knowledge, attitudes, and behavior about sustainability. SUSTLIT has both the behavior checklists and an array of attitude questions; but, most of the items assess knowledge. Sustainability is defined across six dimensions of knowledge: climate change, energy, planetary assets, systems, environmental, and organizational influences, plus a set of definition questions. The six knowledge dimensions are assessed with four to eight items. There are also eleven definition questions, eleven attitude items, and sixteen behavior measures.

All the knowledge items are 5-point Likert scales (strongly disagree-strongly agree). Likert scales are appropriate for measuring knowledge when there is not an objectively clear right or wrong response. Statements on SUSTLIT are worded such that about half reflected correct understanding of sustainability and half incorrect. Reported scores, therefore, were recoded such that higher numbers reflected more correct responses--stronger agreement indicating higher sustainability literacy.

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

In August of 2013, Seattle University assessed the sustainability literacy of all incoming freshman. The class of 975 new students were invited to complete the SUSTLIT survey on-line. SUSTLIT is a standardized questionnaire designed to assess aptitude in sustainability. The scale was developed and its psychometric properties assessed, using SU students. Results from that development process are available; but, because they were not intended to be a targeted sample, they do not necessarily represent any specific group at Seattle University. This data collection was, therefore, intended to be the benchmark in a series of annual surveys of incoming freshman, to be supplemented with periodic assessments of graduating seniors. The survey has been given to all incoming freshmen at the start of the 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 fall quarters. The first post-test has been given to all graduating seniors in May 2017. The survey is sent out by Academic Affairs and administered by two Faculty members from SU’s Albers School of Business and Economics.

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

This is a comparison of the results of the sustainability literacy survey from past years. Data was gathered and analyzed by faculty members in the Albers School of Business and Economics .

*** 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Climate Change 3.36 3.73 3.99 3.98 4.14
Energy 2.77 3.41 3.36 3.30 3.44
Planetary Assets 3.34 3.80 3.89 3.90 4.08
Systems 2.26 4.24 4.35 4.32 4.49
Environmental Justice 3.01 4.02 4.10 4.09 3.60
Business 2.19 3.93 3.98 3.95 3.95
Definitions 4.39 3.41 3.39 3.36 3.39
Attitudes 2.17 3.71 3.85 3.84 4.02
Behaviors 1.31 2.94 2.85 - -
***Means are for 1-5 scales; higher numbers indicate more sustainability literacy.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.