Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 88.80
Liaison Richard Demerjian
Submission Date Aug. 11, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of California, Irvine
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 4.00 Brenna Biggs
Sustainability Analyst
UCI 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::
A subset of students or a sample that may not be representative of the predominant student body

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:
1. Why are you taking this course? 2. In a few sentences, please describe what sustainability means to you. 3. Please indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree with the following statements: a. My ideal vacation spot would be a remote wilderness area. b. I always think about how my actions affect the environment. c. My connection to nature and the environment is a part of my spirituality. d. My relationship to nature is an important part of who I am. e. I feel very connected to all living things and the earth. 4. Please indicate below the extent to which you agree or disagree with the following statement: I consider myself an environmentalist. 5. Some people describe the feeling of “awe" as a response to things perceived as vast and overwhelming that alters the way they understand the world. Please tell us your experience with feelings of “awe”. Select one answer for each row. a. I had the feeling of awe during my visit to the park today. b. In general, I often experience the feeling of awe. c. I feel a sense of wonder almost every day. d. I seek out experiences that challenge my understanding of the world. 6. Which of the following is an example of sustainable forest management? a. Setting aside forests to be off limits to the public. b. Never harvesting more than what the forest produces in new growth. c. Producing lumber for nearby communities to build affordable housing. d. Putting the local communities in charge of forest resources e. Don't know. 7. Which of the following is the most commonly used definition of sustainable development? a. Creating a government welfare system that ensures universal access to education, health care, and social services. b. Setting aside resources for preservation, never to be used. c. Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations to meet their own needs. d. Building a neighborhood that is both socio-demographically and economically diverse. e. Don't know. 8. The wealthiest 20% of people in the U.S. own approximately what percent of the nation’s privately held wealth? a. 20% b. 35% c. 50% d. 85% e. Don't know. 9. What is the most common cause of pollution of streams, rivers, and oceans? a. Dumping of garbage by cities. b. Surface water running off yards, city streets, paved lots, and farm fields. c. Trash washed into the ocean from beaches. d. Waste dumped by factories. e. Don't know. 10. Ozone forms a protective layer in the earth’s upper atmosphere. What does ozone protect us from? a. Acid rain b. Global warming c. Sudden changes in temperature d. Harmful, cancer-causing sunlight e. Don't know 11. Where does most of the garbage in the US end up? a. Oceans b. Incinerators c. Recycling centers d. Landfills e. Don't know 12. What is the name of the primary federal agency that works to protect the environment? a. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) b. Department of Health, Environment and Safety (DHES) c. National Environmental Agency (NEA) d. Federal Pollution Control Agency (FPCA) e. Don't know 13. In the U.S., what do we currently do with the nuclear waste generated by nuclear power plants? a. Use it as nuclear fuel b. Sell it to other countries c. Dump it in landfills d. Store and monitor the waste e. Don't know 14. What is the primary benefit of wetlands? a. Promote flooding b. Help clean the water before it enters lakes, streams, rivers, or oceans c. Help keep the number of undesirable plants and animals low d. Provide good sites for landfills e. Don't know 15. Over the past 3 decades, what has happened to the difference between the wealth of the richest and poorest Americans? a. The difference has increased b. The difference has stayed about the same c. The difference has decreased d. Don't know 16. Higher levels of education generally lead to... a. Lower levels of voter turnout b. Greater annual earnings c. Larger family size d. Higher self-esteem e. Don't know 17. Many economists argue that electricity prices in the U.S. are too low because... a. They do not reflect the cost of pollution from generating the electricity b. Too many suppliers go out of business c. Electric companies have a monopoly in their service areas d. Consumers spend only a small part of their income on energy e. Don't know 18. Which of the following countries has now passed the U.S. as the biggest emitter of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide? a. China b. Sweden c. Brazil d. Japan e. Don't know 19. Which of the following is a leading cause of the depletion of fish stocks in the Atlantic Ocean? a. Fisherman seeking to maximize their catch b. Reduced fish fertility due to genetic hybridization c. Ocean pollution d. Global climate change e. Don't know 20. Which of the following is the most commonly used definition of economic sustainability? a. Maximizing the share price of a company's stock b. Long term profitability c. When costs equal revenue d. Continually expanding market share e. Don't know 21. Which of the following is the primary reason that gasoline prices have risen over the last several decades in the U.S.? a. Growing percentage of gas stations owned by large corporations b. Increasing oil discoveries overseas c. Higher rate of state and federal gasoline tax d. Increasing global demand for oil e. Don't know 22. What are the potential effects of global climate change? a. Loss of habitats b. Less severe weather c. Loss of ozone layer d. Decrease in sea level e. Don't know 23. Imagine you are one of the many fishermen who rely on the fish you catch from Lake Erie as your main source of income. The Fisherman Council determined that each fisherman must limit his/her catch to 5 tons per year to maintain the fishery. You decide to catch 6 tons of fish this year. What could be the results of your decision? A) You make more money this year than you would have if you had caught 5 tons of fish, B) You make less money this year than you would have if you had caught 5 tons of fish, C) The total number of fish that are available to catch each year could decrease, D) Fishermen, including you, could go out of business. a. B, C, and D, but not A b. B and C, but not A or D c. A and C, but not B or D d. A, C, and D, but not B e. Don't know 24. The most significant driver in the loss of species and ecosystems around the world is... a. Overhunting/overharvesting b. Conversion of natural spaces into human developments ( farmland, cities, etc.) c. Acid rain d. Breeding of animals in zoos e. Don't know 25. Which of the following is the best example of environmental justice? a. Urban citizens win a bill to have toxic wastes taken to rural communities b. The government dams a river, flooding Native American tribal lands, to create hydro-power for large cities c. All stakeholders from an indigenous community are involved in setting a quota for the amount of wood they can take from a protected forest next to their village d. Multi-national corporations build factories in developing countries where environmental laws are less strict e. Don't know 26. Of the following, which would be considered living in the most environmentally sustainable way? a. Recycling all recyclable packaging b. Reducing consumption of all products c. Buying products labeled "eco" or "green" d. Buying the newest products available e. Don't know 27. What factors influence the human population's impact on Earth? A) Size of the population, B) Amount of materials used per person, C) Use of technology that lessens our impact a. A, B, and C b. A and B, but not C c. B and C, but not A d. A, but not B or C e. Don't know 28. Using resources, like fossil fuels, can create economic growth. However, future generations may be disadvantaged if the current generation overuses these resources. Which of the following principles can we follow if we do not want to disadvantage the next generation? a. Renewable resources, such as fish, soil, and groundwater must be used no faster than the rate at which they regenerate b. Non-renewable resources, such as minerals and fossil fuels, must be used up quickly to encourage the development of renewable substitutes c. Pollution must be emitted at current levels so that natural systems can maintain the ability to absorb them, recycle them, or render them harmless d. None of the above are true e. Don't know 29. The best way to support a local economy, such as the economy of Irvine, is to buy goods (groceries, clothing, toiletries, etc)... a. At large chain stores that may employ workers from the local community b. Online from discount retailers c. From stores that sell locally produced goods d. From second hand/thrift stores e. Don't know 30. Which of the following statements about water is true? a. Globally, water for personal use, such as washing dishes, doing laundry, and bathing, is the major user of water resources b. Globally, freshwater reserves (aquifers) are used fasted than they are replenished c. Floods and severe weather will increase the availability of clean drinking water d. Because water is a free and abundant resource, it is not a major concern for most countries e. Don't know 31. Imagine that we had to pay for all the costs associated with the goods we use every day. What would go into calculating the true costs of a product? a. The cost of raw materials to make the product b. The cost of environmental damage caused by production c. The cost of health care for employees who manufacture the product d. All of the above e. Don't know 32. Put the following list in order of the activities with the largest environmental impact to those with the smallest environmental impact: a. Keeping a cell phone charger plugged into an electrical outlet for 12 hours b. Producing one McDonald's quarter-pound hamburger c. Producing one McDonald's chicken sandwich d. Flying in a commercial airplane from Washington D.C. to China 33. Workers around the world face a variety of social injustices, including low wages, poor working conditions, and lack of access to education. To help improve conditions for these workers you can: a. Support corporations that do not allow workers to join labor unions b. Buy the newest products to keep factories around the world open c. Purchase products from companies that conduct business in a socially responsible manner d. Support large corporations because they generally have more money to pay their workers 34. Which one of the following statements describes you best? Select one answer. a. I'm very certain human-caused climate change is happening, and I'm very worried about it. b. I'm moderately certain human-cause climate change is happening, and I'm somewhat worried about it. c. I suspect climate change is happening, and although I'm not certain if it is human-caused, I am a little worried about it. d. I haven't really thought much about climate change, so I'm not sure what to think about it. e. I suspect that climate change is not happening, or isn't human caused, but if it is, I am fairly sure that it won't be a problem during the next several decades f. I'm moderately or very certain that climate change is not happening, or if it is, that it isn't human caused, and that it isn't a problem. 35. Thinking about things you do in your day-to-day life, how often do you do each of the following? a. Eat convenience food (snacks prepared commercially) b. Eat energy-intensive meat (e.g. beef, pork) c. Eat any meat d. Purchase produce that is in season e. Purchase food grown without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers f. Purchase single-use disposable beverage containers (e.g. water bottles, soda, paper or styrofoam cups) 36. Thinking about things you do in your day-to-day life, how often do you do each of the following? a. Take shorter showers to conserve water b. Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth to conserve water 37. Thinking about things you may do in your day-to-day life, when purchasing goods, how often do you do each of the following? a. Purchase goods with minimal packaging (e.g. plastic wrap or cardboard) b. Purchase biodegradable cleaners c. Purchase biodegradable laundry detergents and dish soap d. Purchase rechargeable batteries rather than conventional batteries e. Purchase energy efficient light bulbs (e.g. CFLs) 38. Thinking about things you may do in your day-to-day life, when disposing of food and goods, how often do you do each of the following? a. Properly dispose of electronic waste b. Properly dispose of batteries c. Carefully recycle all recyclable goods d. Use a compost bin to dispose of food scraps (or a mobile compost service) 39. Thinking about your typical behavior when you drive a car, how often do you do each of the following? a. Drive more than 20 miles in one day b. Drive more than 60 miles in one day c. Turn OFF the engine while parked and waiting d. Drive your car for short trips (under 2 miles) e. Drive in such a way as to keep fuel consumption as low as possible f. Bike to school g. Walk to school 40. For each of the following statements, please rank how important they will be for you to have in your career: a. Earn a large salary b. Help people c. Help the environment d. Be creative e. Challenges you personally f. Travel 41. What career do you plan on pursuing after college? 42. In a typical week, how man times have you done each of the following outside of class requirements? a. Watched environmentally or sustainability related documentaries b. Shared posts, links, videos, etc. pertaining to environmental issues, climate change, or sustainability on a social media platform c. Discussed environmental or sustainability topics NOT on social media (e.g. in person, on the phone)

A brief description of how the literacy assessment was developed and/or when it was adopted:
The Sustainability Literacy Assessment has been conducted repeatedly (2013-2019) as part of the Sustainability I course offered in winter quarter through the UCI School of Social Ecology's Urban Planning and Public Policy Department. The initial assessment survey was developed by teaching assistant Sally Geislar, Professor Richard Matthew, and researchers from the Center for Unconventional Security Affairs (CUSA) and was administered to Sustainability I students by teaching assistants. The survey was designed to capture changes in knowledge about sustainability challenges, as well as ways to create solutions to these challenges (ecoliteracy) as a result of participating in the course lectures, projects, extra credit events, and coursework. In Winter Quarter 2016, the assessment was modified to reflect the components of the ASK sustainability assessment. The new assessment focuses more on sustainable development literacy than eco-literacy and includes a question on awe disposition (because research suggests awe opens people up to new information, i.e., learning), a connectedness to nature scale (because many of the research projects assigned this year have to do with the positive benefits of nature), and changing the eco-literacy EPA assessment to a more holistic sustainable development assessment, which is a better reflection of the course content, and which mimics the assessments done by other universities (i.e., Ohio State and University of Maryland). The survey has remained almost identical between 2016 to 2019, and was most recently administered to the Sustainability I students in the Winter 2019 quarter.

A brief description of how a representative sample was reached (if applicable) and how the assessment(s) were administered :
The first Sustainability Literacy Assessment was administered in Winter Quarter 2013 to the Sustainability I student cohort; follow-up data were collected from the same cohort at the end of the Winter Quarter. Subsequent assessments and follow-ups were similarly conducted in Winter Quarters 2014 and 2015, using the same assessment tool. The Winter Quarter 2016 assessments and follow-ups were administered online, as was the Winter Quarter 2017 assessment. The most recent Sustainability Literacy Assessment, also administered online (via Google Forms), was completed during Winter Quarter 2019. Using a pre-test, post-test methodology, students completed the pre-test survey before exposure to the treatment; in this case, the Sustainability I course itself is considered the treatment or intervention. To assess change over time, the responses of students who completed the survey prior to the first class were matched and compared to their post-test survey responses. Unfortunately, a control group was not able to be established for comparisons with the treatment group. Students enrolled in the Sustainability I Winter Quarter courses were asked to complete the online survey before attending the first class to capture baseline eco-literacy/sustainable development literacy, attitudes, values and personal behaviors prior to exposure to the course (or intervention). Credit was given for completion of both surveys, regardless of response content. Students received the post-survey on the final day of the 10-week course and were given one week to complete the survey for credit. The post-test survey reflects the questions in the pre-test to enable analysis of change over time. The pre-course survey begins on page 1 and the post-course survey begins on page 21: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-YC4qBPAf8JAUaHRC6h4GuawPRJ_9sGk/view?usp=sharing

A brief summary of results from the literacy assessment(s):
Data on the size of the student cohort that participated in the initial administration of the sustainability literacy surveys are shown below for surveys administered in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2019. Follow-up assessment data are shown below for 2016 and 2019. A brief summary of results from the assessments (2015, 2016, 2017, and 2019) is provided below. The survey was administered during the reporting period during the Winter 2019 quarter, for which pre-test and post-test data are available and included below. The Sustainability I course in Winter 2019 had fewer enrolled students than in previous years, resulting in a lower sample size. WINTER 2019 In the Winter 2019 Quarter, a total of 116 students out of the 133 enrolled in the Sustainability I course participated in the initial sustainability literacy survey. This represents 0.31% of the total UCI population (Winter 2019; graduate students and undergraduate students). The 90 students who completed both the pre-test survey and the post-test survey represented 0.24% of the total UCI population (Winter 2019; graduate students and undergraduate students). WINTER 2017 In the Winter 2017 Quarter, a total of 236 students enrolled in the Sustainability I course participated in the sustainability literacy survey. This represents 0.79% of the total UCI population (Winter 2017). WINTER 2016 In the Winter 2016 Quarter, a total of 236 students enrolled in the Sustainability I course and 230 participated in the sustainability literacy survey. This represents 0.81% of the total UCI population (Winter 2016). The 137 students who completed both pre-test and post-test survey in 2016 represent 0.48% of the total UCI student population (Winter Quarter 2016); the 203 students who completed only the pre-test survey in 2016 represent 0.72% of the total UCI student population. WINTER 2015 In the 2015 Winter Quarter, a total of 198 students who were enrolled in the Sustainability I course participated in the sustainability literacy survey. This represents 0.72% of the total UCI population (Winter 2015). Follow-up assessment data for these students has not been reported.

Website URL where information about the sustainability literacy assessment is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:
The Sustainability Literacy Assessment has been conducted repeatedly (2013-2019) as part of the Sustainability I course offered in winter quarter through the UCI School of Social Ecology's Urban Planning and Public Policy Department.

The Sustainability Literacy Assessment has been conducted repeatedly (2013-2019) as part of the Sustainability I course offered in winter quarter through the UCI School of Social Ecology's Urban Planning and Public Policy Department.

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.