Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 68.02
Liaison Beth Klein
Submission Date Feb. 25, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

State University of New York at Cortland
EN-6: Assessing Sustainability Culture

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Beth Klein
Professor and Sustainability Coordinator
Childhood Early Childhoon
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution conduct an assessment of sustainability culture (i.e. the assessment focuses on sustainability values, behaviors and beliefs, and may also address awareness of campus sustainability initiatives)?:
Yes

Which of the following best describes the cultural assessment? The assessment is administered to::
The entire campus community (students, staff and faculty), directly or by representative sample

Which of the following best describes the structure of the cultural assessment? The assessment is administered::
Longitudinally to measure change over time

A brief description of how and when the cultural assessment(s) were developed and/or adopted:

The sustainability culture assessment was developed by a graduate student at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) as a component of the student’s PhD dissertation research. The survey development included a review of STARS sustainability culture assessments at other institutions; a review of peer-reviewed academic literature on organizational culture, organizational climate, and sustainability behavior studies; and a conversation with AASHE’s Director of Programs in order to ensure that the framework of the sustainability culture assessment survey was consistent with the intent of the AASHE STARS credit. The cultural assessment survey is being administered at multiple campuses in New York State in order to compare the results across campuses. The sustainability culture assessment was adopted at SUNY Cortland in order to measure attitudes and behaviors related to campus sustainability. The survey will be administered again in Spring of 2020 in order to measure changes in sustainability culture over time.


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 sustainability culture assessment included questions that measured sustainability-related behaviors on campus, perceptions of SUNY Cortland’s sustainability efforts, and general sustainability attitudes. The culture assessment also utilized the Theory of Planned Behavior as a theoretical framework to measure attitudes toward sustainability behaviors on campus, social norms related to sustainability behaviors on campus, and perceived behavioral control related to sustainability behaviors on campus. Examples of the sustainability culture survey questions are below. All questions asked respondents to choose their level of agreement with each statement on a scale of 1 to 7 where 1 is "Strongly disagree" and 7 is "Strongly agree".

The sustainability behavior questions included general sustainability behaviors (e.g. “I consider the impact my actions will have on sustainability issues while on campus”), energy behaviors (e.g. “I turn off lights when I leave an unoccupied room on campus when I can”), waste behaviors (e.g. “I recycle paper, plastic, and metal waste on campus when I can”), transportation behaviors (e.g. “I walk, bike, carpool, or take public transit to campus when I can”), and food choice behaviors (e.g. “I minimize my consumption of meat, dairy, and other animal products on campus when I can”).

The survey included questions related to perceptions of SUNY Cortland’s sustainability efforts (e.g. “It seems to me that SUNY Cortland is genuinely committed to sustainability on campus”), attitudes toward campus sustainability behaviors (e.g. “It’s easy to act in ways that improve campus sustainability with my everyday behavior”), social norms related to campus sustainability behaviors (e.g. “My friends at SUNY Cortland act in ways that improve campus sustainability with their everyday behavior”), and perceived behavioral control related to campus sustainability behaviors (e.g. “I have the ability to act in ways that improve campus sustainability with my everyday behavior”). The general sustainability attitude questions, which included ecological, economic, and social elements, were borrowed from Zwickle’s and Jones’ (2018) Sustainability Attitude Scale.

Zwickle, A., & Jones, K. (2018). Sustainability Knowledge and Attitudes—Assessing Latent Constructs. In Handbook of Sustainability and Social Science Research (pp. 435-451). Springer, Cham.


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

The sustainability culture survey was emailed to all students and employees at SUNY Cortland. A pre-survey notice was sent from the college president to all students and employees prior to the survey invitation being sent in order to emphasize the importance of participating in the survey. Multiple reminders were sent to people who did not respond to earlier survey invitations. A sufficient number of respondents participated in the survey to achieve a 95% confidence level with a ±5% level of precision.


A brief summary of results from the cultural assessment, including a description of any measurable changes over time:

The results of the sustainability culture assessment described below include a preliminary analysis of data from the initial assessment conducted in March and April 2018. The results will be compared to future sustainability culture assessments in order to track changes over time. The next assessment will be administered in spring of 2020. The results will also be compared to other campuses in New York State that are administering the same sustainability culture assessment, when that data becomes available.

The sustainability culture assessment indicated that students and employees mostly have high levels of self-reported sustainability-related behaviors (mean value of 5.60 on a 7 point scale). Waste reduction behaviors scored the highest of the behavioral categories (mean value of 6.16), with recycling being the highest scoring single behavior (mean value of 6.48). Turning off the lights when leaving an unoccupied room is also a common behavior (second highest single behavior with mean value of 6.32). Using a reusable mug or water bottle was the third highest behavior (mean value of 6.22).

Food choice behaviors scored the lowest of the behavioral categories (mean value of 4.32) with eating a plant-based diet being the lowest scoring behavior (mean value of 4.10) followed by eating local & organic foods (mean value of 4.53). This indicates that more access to and promotion of plant-based, local, and organic foods could be beneficial for improving food-related sustainability behaviors on campus. Alternative transportation behaviors were the third lowest behavior with a mean value of 4.64. Undergraduate students indicated statistically significant higher levels of alternative transportation behaviors compared to employees. Staff had the lowest levels of self-reported alternative transportation behaviors, indicating that programs encouraging staff (and employees in general) to walk, bike, carpool, or take public transit could potentially make improvements in this area.

Employees (faculty, staff, and administrators) had statistically significant higher levels of self-reported general sustainability behaviors, energy behaviors, and waste reduction behaviors compared to students (undergraduates and graduates). Employees (faculty, staff, and administrators) had statistically significant higher levels of perceptions of SUNY Cortland’s sustainability efforts compared with students.

Faculty indicated statistically significant higher levels of general sustainability attitudes compared with staff and administrators. Staff and administrators indicated statistically significant higher levels of sustainability descriptive social norms compared to faculty, meaning staff and administrators had a higher perception that people on campus were engaging in sustainability related behaviors. Staff and administrators also had statistically significant higher levels of perceptions of SUNY Cortland’s sustainability efforts compared with faculty.


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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.