Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 76.34
Liaison Elida Erickson
Submission Date March 1, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of California, Santa Cruz
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 4.00 Shauna Casey
Sustainability Programs Manager
Campus Sustainability Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution conduct an assessment of the sustainability literacy of its students (i.e. an assessment focused on student knowledge of sustainability topics and challenges)?:

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::
Standalone evaluation without a follow-up assessment of the same cohort or representative samples

A copy of the questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment(s):

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

Current global climate change is...
A) Caused mostly by human activities.
B) Caused equally by both human activities and natural changes.
C) Caused mostly by natural changes in the environment.
D) None of the above because global climate change isn’t happening.
E) Don't know

Which of the following is an example of a social justice issue?
A) Global climate change only impacts the quality of life in non-industrialized countries.
B) Poor communities are especially vulnerable to effects of climate change.
C) Responding to climate change requires addressing historical inequalities (such as lack of access to adequate healthcare and housing).
D) All of the above.
E) B and C are correct.
F) Don't know.

Climate change impacts farm-working communities in California because:
A) Higher temperatures and drought reduce wages and agricultural job opportunities.
B) Farm workers can easily relocate to another state to find another job.
C) Higher temperatures lead to more heat strokes and other health problems among workers.
D) All of the above.
E) A and C are correct.
F) Don't know.

Which of the following is an example of environmental justice?
A) City residents supported a bill to have toxic wastes taken to rural communities.
B) To create hydropower for a large city, the government built a dam on a river, flooding Native American tribal lands.
C) A logging project was stopped because members of an Indigenous community did not consent.
D) Multi-national corporations build factories in less-industrialized countries without environmental laws.
E) All of the above.
F) Don’t know.

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

The People of Color Sustainability Collective (PoCSC), a partnership between the Ethnic Resource Centers, residential Colleges Nine and Ten, and the Campus Sustainability Office, developed the survey with the assistance of UCSC’s Institutional Research, Assessment & Policy Studies. The purpose of the survey is to better understand student experiences and perceptions of the environmental sustainability movement and climate on our campus, as well as general knowledge of sustainability. The following are the different sections the survey focused on:

1. Participation in organizations and programs
2. Perceptions of campus priorities
3. In-class learning experience
4. Personal experiences and suggestions
5. Student knowledge about key concepts related to environmental sustainability

The survey used linkert scales, multiple choice questions, and a few fill in the blank question types. Demographic information about students is collected from university admissions databases and is linked through their UCSC CruzID.

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

All UCSC undergraduates received emails distributed by a campus-wide server with a description of the survey and a link to access the survey. The survey was open from March 8th until April 10th, 2016.

To encourage participation, students who participated in the survey were entered in a raffle to win an iPad Air or $50 gift cards to our campus bookstore. Academic deans and department chairs were asked to encourage professors in their departments to remind their students to take the survey or offer extra credit for participating. Student interns were tabling in various campus locations with laptops to encouraging students to take the survey.

A brief summary of results from the literacy assessment(s), including a description of any measurable changes over time:

There was a 21% response rate to the survey, or 3,266 students.

UCSC is a hub of environmental activity: half of UCSC students participated in environmental sustainability programs and/or were members of environmental organizations. White non-hispanic (WNH) participated at a slightly higher rate compared to Asian American and Hispanic/Latino students by 3-7%, and no significant ethnic group difference was found in the rates of membership. While one’s ethnicity was not a predictor of participation in the environmental movement on campus, one of the strongest predictors was majoring in Environmental Studies (5.2 times more likely to participate in sustainability programs or organizations, and 6.3 times more likely to be a member of a sustainability organization). It is noteworthy that WNH students constituted 33% of undergraduates and 51% of Environmental Studies majors (the largest of such disparities among Social Sciences majors). Prior engagement with sustainability efforts before college, being concerned about environmental issues, attending a residential college with an environmental theme, being a transfer student or senior, being female, and also having experienced community health concerns were also significant predictors of student involvement in sustainability efforts.

In terms of their literacy of sustainability as measured by the questions provided, the majority of students selected the correct answers to all questions, with 74% of students identifying the correct answer in question 1 ("Current global climate change is caused by...); 45% identifying the correct answer to question 2 ("Which of the following is an example of social justice?"); 70% for question 3 (Climate change impacts farm-working communities in CA because..."); and 60% for question 4 ("Which of the following is an example of environmental justice?").

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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.