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
EN-6: Assessing Sustainability Culture

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 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 sustainability culture?:
Yes

Which of the following best describes the cultural assessment? The assessment is administered to::
The entire campus community (students and employees) 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 results of the sustainability culture assessment described below and in the attached document include an analysis of data from the culture assessment conducted in Fall 2022. The results will be compared to future sustainability culture assessments in order to track changes over time. The results will also be compared to other campuses in New York State that are administering a similar sustainability culture assessment, when that data becomes available.

The sustainability cultural assessment survey was developed through a partnership with ESF’s EST 604 class, Social Survey Research Methods for Environmental Issues. The Office of Sustainability presented to the class, provided a prompt, and met with them regularly to track updates and answer questions.

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:
I take the following actions to combat climate change: Check all that apply.

a) Reducing my energy use
b) Reducing my material waste and consumption
c) Choosing sustainable food options
d) Taking alternate modes of transportation (ex: carpooling, walking, biking, public transportation, etc.)
e) Elevating traditionally underrepresented voices on campus and in my community
f) Other, please describe:
g) None of the above

Rethinking material waste (reducing, reusing, recycling) is an important issue to me. Select one.

1 - Strongly agree
2 - Agree
3 - Neither agree nor disagree
4 - Disagree
5 - Strongly disagree
6 - I don't know

I would be willing to participate in sustainable transportation-focused programs on campus. Select one.

1 - Strongly Agree
2 - Agree
3 - Neither agree nor disagree
4 - Disagree
5 - Strongly Disagree

A brief description of how representative samples were reached (if applicable) and how the cultural assessment is administered:
The survey was sent to all faculty, staff, and students through an email from the Office of Communications and Marketing and shared in Campus News (email to entire campus community). A reminder email was sent towards the end of the survey period to gain more responses. All who took the survey had the option to be entered in a raffle to win one of the advertised gift cards to the ESF Bookstore.

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

To obtain a representative sample for faculty and staff, we compared the distribution (by %) of respondents by their professional role (faculty or staff) to the actual distribution of individuals per professional role on campus. The difference between these was then calculated, and if the difference was within +/- 5% we considered the response group (professional role) to be accurately represented in the survey. The results of this analysis showed that a representative sample was obtained for both professional roles at ESF.

A brief summary of results from the cultural assessment:
The results of the sustainability culture assessment described below include an analysis of data from the culture assessment conducted in Fall 2022. The results will be compared to future sustainability culture assessments in order to track changes over time.

On likert questions, ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” on a scale from 1-5, asking respondents if certain sustainability actions are important to them (ex. Energy efficiency is important to me. Select one.) or their willingness to participate in sustainability initiatives (ex. I would be willing to participate in sustainable food-focused programs on campus. Select one.); “strongly agree” had the highest number of responses for all. It was found that on average, 49.1% of the campus community “strongly agree” that sustainability actions are important and are willing to participate in sustainability initiatives. This was followed by an average of 33% for “agree” and 14.35% for “neither agree nor disagree.”

The two sustainability initiative participation questions that had the largest percentage of “strongly agree” responses were in the sustainable materials management (43.69%) and food (43.24%) categories. The two that had the smallest percentage of “strongly agree” responses were in the transportation (36.94%) and environmental justice (37.84%) categories.

The two sustainability action importance questions that had the largest percentage of “strongly agree” responses were in the energy (62.61%) and climate change (72.07%) categories. The two that had the smallest percentage of “strongly agree” responses were in the transportation (44.59%) and food (48.65%) categories.

As compared to the last administered sustainability culture assessment (March 2018), sustainable materials management initiatives are still the highest scoring category when it comes to behavioral measures. Transportation and food still show that the ESF campus community could benefit from more targeted programs and initiatives in these two areas. The last sustainability culture assessment did not call out actions and perceptions on environmental justice as clearly and directly as this current survey, so there isn’t data to directly compare against longitudinally. However, it still can be deduced that the ESF campus community could also benefit from more targeted environmental justice programs and initiatives as well.

The assessment will be conducted in the future in order to track changes in behaviors, attitudes, social norms, and other aspects of sustainability culture over time.

Website URL where information about the assessment of sustainability culture is available:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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Data source(s) and notes about the submission:
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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.