Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 86.83
Liaison Mark Lichtenstein
Submission Date Feb. 28, 2023

STARS v2.2

State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Rochelle Strassner
Sustainability Outreach & Engagement Manager
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?:

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

The phenomenon of climate change is best described as (select one):

a) The increasing average surface temperature of the planet due to Earth’s natural cycle
b) Long-term changes to the average weather patterns that have come to define Earth’s local, regional, and global climates due to natural and man-made causes
c) A myth that resulted from manipulated data sets by climate scientists
d)The increasing average temperature of Earth’s atmosphere due to increased solar irradiance
e) None of the above
f) Do not know or not sure

The term fossil fuel divestment is best defined as (select one);

a) The transition to only renewable energy and materials
b) A tax on fossil fuel companies for the environmental destruction they cause
c) The removal of personal or institutional investments (stocks, shares, or holdings) in fossil fuel companies
d) None of the above
e) Do not know or not sure

Which of the following are way(s) to reduce your food’s carbon footprint (select one):

a) Composting food scraps
b) Cooking with unprocessed foods (e.g. fresh fruits, vegetables, grains etc)
c) Reducing food waste by only purchasing what you need and planning meals ahead of time
d) All of the above
e) Do not know or not sure

The term zero waste is best defined as (select one):

a) The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without incineration nor discharges to land, water, or air that threaten human health or the environment
b) The consumption zero products, packaging, or materials
c) The process of analyzing the environmental impacts of products during their lifetime
d) None of the above
e) Do not know or not sure

Which of the following are ways to support water sustainability (select one):

a) Protecting and creating urban green spaces
b) Storm water management ang green infrastructure
c) Water use reduction and water efficiency
d) Protecting water quality
e) Water reuse
f) All of the above
g) Do not know or not sure

The term ecosystem services is best defined as (select one):

a) The work required by humans to keep natural habitats in good health
b) The work performed by environmental engineering firms
c) The many benefits that humans receive from the natural environment
d) The economic benefits human receive from the exploitation of natural resources
e) None of the above
f) Do not know or not sure

Which of the following best describes climate injustice (select one):

a) Low-income and marginalized populations are generally the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change (e.g. severe storms, heat, and floods) but have contributed the least to climate change (e.g. emissions)
b) Wealthy populations are disproportionately affected by climate change because they are more likely to own properties and businesses that can be negatively affected by theimpacts of climate change (e.g. storms, heat, floods)
c) The unfair treatment of the atmosphere by human activity
d) The unequal distribution of the effects of climate change on plant and animal communities compared to human populations
e) None of the above
f) Do not know or not sure

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

The assessment was developed from a sampling of questions from other university surveys (adapted with permission), and original questions developed internally. The survey was administered to all students in Fall 2022. The survey was updated from the previous version (2019) and focuses on key sustainability topics including climate change, conservation, energy, environmental justice, food, materials management (waste), and water. The survey was designed to test students knowledge of the ecological, social, and economic aspects of sustainability with respect to these topics. The survey also included a few questions that tested students knowledge of sustainability at ESF.

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

The survey was sent to all students in Fall 2022 via email and was announced in ESF's "Campus News" (email to all campus community members). In the middle of the survey period, a reminder email was sent to increase response rates. All who took the survey had the option to be entered in a raffle to win one of three gift cards to the ESF Bookstore.

A representative sample analysis was performed after all responses were collected. Incomplete and invalid responses were removed. To obtain a representative sample, the distribution (by %) of respondents by major was compared to the actual distribution of students per major on campus. The difference between these was then calculated, and if the difference was within +/- 5% the response group (major) was considered to be accurately represented in the survey. The results of this analysis showed that a representative sample was obtained for all majors at ESF. A focus on students major was emphasized opposed to other demographics to best understand if student participation and sustainability knowledge differed by their area of study.

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

The results of the sustainability literacy assessment will be compared to future sustainability literacy assessments in order to track changes over time. ESF intends to administer the next iteration of the literacy assessment in Spring 2024. 2022 results will also be compared to other campuses in New York State that are administering similar sustainability literacy assessments, when that data becomes available.

On average, the "correct response rate" across all survey category questions was 74.38%. This shows a decent degree of sustainable literacy across the ESF student population, with room to improve. The category that on average showed the highest degree of literacy was water (90%). The category that on average showed the lowest degree of literacy was materials management (54.51%).

Website URL where information about the sustainability literacy assessment 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.