Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 85.48
Liaison Emmanuelle Jodoin
Submission Date Dec. 6, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Université de Sherbrooke
EN-6: Assessing Sustainability Culture

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.25 / 1.00 Véronique Bisaillon
Sustainable Development Education Advisor
Office of the Vice-President, Administration and Sustainable Development
"---" 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)?:

Which of the following best describes the cultural assessment? The assessment is administered to::
A subset of the campus community or a sample that may not be representative of the entire community

Which of the following best describes the structure of the cultural assessment? The assessment is administered::
Without a follow-up assessment of the same cohort or representative samples of the same population

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

In the fall 2018, the Université de Sherbrooke commissioned a group of students registered to the “Integrative Project” course, offered in the Baccalaureate in Environmental Studies, to survey the student community on eco-friendly notions and sustainability. The student group developed a questionnaire in collaboration with the Office of the Vice-President, Administration and Sustainable Development, and the Sustainable Development Academic Advisor.

Several elements of this survey, such as the sampling method, the representativeness of the sample, the thematic of the questions and their formulation, were defined based on STARS criteria. The survey questions assessed the students’ life habits and their general knowledge on different themes associated to sustainable development.

The survey’s objective was to determine students’ behaviors and knowledge on eco-friendly notions and sustainability, and to increase awareness among the University’s community on these issues. In addition, follow-up indicators were developed in order to ensure continuous improvement of the survey. Indeed, it is expected to renew the survey over the years, may it be in a different format.

The questionnaire was structured into seven sections, comprised of over thirty questions:
1. General Information
2. Consumer and Food Habits
3. Water Management
4. Waste Management
5. Energy
6. Climate Change, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Transportation
7. Survey Participation

The questions were inspired by themes proposed by the Sustainability Literacy Test (https://www.sulitest.org/en/vision-mission.html?newWorkingLanguage=en). This test was created to help higher education institutions, companies or any other organizations to structure and evaluate their approach in deploying a sustainability culture. The tool remains an important reference in survey development that measures participants’ responses about sustainable development and eco-friendly notions. The approach was also inspired by themes and sub-themes presented in the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) eco-friendly guide.

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:

Sustainability Culture Assessment (i.e. sustainability values, behaviors and beliefs)
Survey: "Are you Environmentally Responsible? Test your knowledge!”

Following is an excerpt of ten questions included in the survey used to assess the sustainability culture of students:

Q.8. When purchasing a product, many aspects and considerations can be taken into account. From the following list, select the three aspects that most influence your purchase decision in general.
Response Options : Its price, Its quality, Its durability, Its origin, Its fairness aspect (workers' conditions), Its environmental aspect, Its brand, Other

Q.9. What is your first reflex when it comes to acquire a new material good?
Response Options : I purchase a new good, I purchase a used good (thrift shops, through an online classified advertising service that operates as a centralized network of online communities, marketplace, etc.), I exchange a good for another (barter)

Q.10. How often do you eat meat?
Response Options : Daily, A few times a week, A few times a month, A few times a year, Never

Q.14. On a daily basis, how important is it for you to limit the amount of water you use?
Response Options : Very important, Important, Neutral, Not very important, Not important

Q.15. Assume the following situation: you have with you some residual materials that you want to dispose of. However, there is no sorting island nearby. How would you rate your effort to sort these residuals (waste, recycling and compost)?
Response Options : I systematically sort my residual materials, even if I have to drag my waste a long distance (e.g. I see to find a compost bin before disposing of an apple core), I sort my residual materials most of the time, I rarely sort my residual materials, I do not sort my residual materials (I dispose of everything in the waste bin, even if some materials are recyclable or compostable), I do not produce residual materials on campus

Q.16. On average, how many single-use containers (plastic bag, straw, coffee cup, plastic water bottle, styrofoam plate, etc.) do you use per week (at work, at home, at the university)?
Response Options : None, One to three, Four to six, Seven to nine, More than ten

Q.18. From the following list, select all items that can be put in the recycling bin.
Response Options : Electronic products, Metal cans, Shoes and clothes, Glass jars, Toys, Plastic bottle, Straws, Styrofoam plates and glasses, Paper and cardboard

Q.22. From the following list, select the two means of transportation which you use most often to travel between your place of residence and the campus.
Response Options : Walking, Bike, Carpooling, Public transportation (bus or subway), Only by car, Using a car to an incentive parking then using public transit

23. Assume the following context: Public transportation is available between your place of residence and the campus; A bike and pedestrian path connect your place of residence to the campus; On-campus parking is free; You own a vehicle. Which of the following travel means would you use most of the time?
Response Options : I would use public transit most of the time, I would use my vehicle most of the time, I would use active transportation most of the time (bike, walk, etc.)

Q.30. Do you consider that your experience at the Université de Sherbrooke has allowed you to improve your eco-friendly practices (residual materials management, use of public or active transportation, drinking water protection, consumption patterns, knowledge of climate change issues, etc.)?
Response Options : Yes, I greatly improved my eco-friendly habits, Yes, I improved a little my eco-friendly habits, No, I did not improve my habits since I consider that I was already eco-responsible when I arrived at the Université de Sherbrooke, hence I did not change my behavior or learned new knowledge, No, I have not improved my eco-responsible habits since I do not feel that the Université de Sherbrooke has raised my awareness on the matter, No, I have not improved my eco-friendly habits as it's not important for me

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

Undergraduate students from the three Université de Shebrooke’s campuses were selected as the study population since they represent the institution’s predominant student body. The population included full-time students as well as trainees.

The survey was distributed to the undergraduate students’ associations, to the Student Federation of the Université de Sherbrooke (Fédération étudiante de l’Université de Sherbrooke (FEUS)) and to the University’s Coop (COOPérative de l’Université de Sherbrooke) Facebook pages. A non-probability sampling was done, meaning without a systematic method. The respondents were obtained in an unpredictable way and according to their willingness to participate.

318 out of 406 completed surveys were retained for the results analysis since they were representing the profile sought by the survey.

To ensure the representativeness of the sample, an assessing representativeness method, with a relative error of ± 5.00%, was used. This justified the reasonableness of the results weighting. Indeed, this was necessary since some faculties were overrepresented while others were underrepresented.

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

Part of the survey on lifestyle habits and values with respect to sustainable development revealed several interesting results. For example, with regard to the aspects influencing purchasing decisions, the results revealed that cost, quality and sustainability are the three elements that most influence participants at the time of their purchases. Also, the results showed that men buy more new products than used goods.

In terms of meat consumption, the majority of respondents (48%) consume meat every week. In addition, the survey shows that students in the Faculty of Engineering and the School of Management are the largest consumers of meat. In fact, the class of respondents who consume meat every day has the highest proportion of people with a neutral opinion on drinking water consumption.

Another interesting result from the survey is the fact that the majority of respondents, regardless of their faculty, sort their waste most of the time and say they have slightly improved their eco-responsible practices while at the Université de Sherbrooke.

Finally, the survey revealed that the majority of respondents prefer to walk and use public transit for their mobility, regardless of the faculty to which they belong.

This exercise having been a first and administered as a standalone evaluation, it is planned to introduce a pre and post-assessment to the entire campus community on sustainability culture in a near future, so as to identify progress and introduce improvements where needed in terms of sustainability outreach and education initiatives.

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

Additional documentation to support the submission:

The Université de Sherbrooke used a single instrument that addressed sustainability literacy AND culture, as it did include at least ten questions to assess sustainability values, behaviors and beliefs (as addressed under the current credit).

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.