Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 77.56
Liaison Ruairi O'Mahony
Submission Date Feb. 15, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Massachusetts Lowell
EN-6: Assessing Sustainability Culture

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Tyler Arrigo
Program Coordinator- Sustainability
Office of Sustainability
"---" 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::
The entire campus community (students, staff and faculty), 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:

This dynamic campus sustainability cultural assessment was based on the work done in the College of Education in a White House award-winningvclimate education program called ScieceToGo (http://sciencetogo.org), we repurposed large ostriches which are designed as out-of-home media educational tools for campus sustainability culture and surveyed the campus community before and after they were spread around campus. We called the project Getting Heads Out of the Sand or GHOOTS hereafter.

Project Summary:

GHOOTS was a sustainability and climate change awareness campaign that occurred from June 1, 2016 to May 31, 2018. The GHOOTS team consisted of representatives from three UMass Lowell departments: College of Education, Office of Sustainability, and the Art and Design Department. To create a learning opportunity for the UMass Lowell community, this interdisciplinary team developed an informal science learning campaign on UMass Lowell’s campus by repurposing Sciencetogo.org’s Out of Home Media (OHM) (i.e., the ostriches) that were in storage.

The Center for Program Evaluation (CPE) staff conducted formative research on the campaign. The goals for the GHOOTS project were:

1) Improve UMass Lowell community’s understanding of the sustainability efforts on campus.

2) Engage UMass Lowell’s community in climate change science and sustainable practices.

3) Investigate UMass Lowell Community's attitudes and perspectives on climate change and the sustainability efforts on campus.

4) Use results to improve UMass Lowell’s standing as a climate leader and write a larger proposal for the National Science Foundation.

To achieve these goals, GHOOTS used the internal seed grant to accomplish the following tasks:

1. Repurposed the eight ostrich-shaped displays. Each display was redressed to not only educate the public about climate change but to also showcase the sustainability efforts currently underway on UMass Lowell’s campus.

2. Strategically placed the eight ostriches throughout campus in high trafficked areas (e.g., at bus stops which are traveled by 8,000 riders a day) in order to increase community’s exposure to the campaign’s educational messages.

3. Collected pre- and post-survey data (e.g. the cultural assessments) to examine the impacts of the science learning campaign.

4. Developed an accompanying webpage and social media accounts for disseminating project information, as well as further information on climate change science and UMass Lowell’s sustainability efforts.

5. Promoted the campaign through a kick-off event, social media, UML’s website, and other outlets.

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:

Questions are attached to this submission. They were asked in matrix form and are difficult to translate here.

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

The cultural assessment was administered through email and all students and employees received it. We offered prize incentives for participation.

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

Currently, the research team is working on a manuscript about this project that they intend to submit to an academic journal such as International Journal of Science Education, Part B: Communication and Public Engagement, Public Understanding of Science, or Connected Science Learning. In the near future, the team will reconvene to discuss how these results can be used to possibly develop a larger proposal on informal education for the National Science Foundation.

Brief Conclusions:

UMass Lowell’s community represents a diverse and captive audience most of whom spend several hours a day on campus. This project was a relatively inexpensive strategy for engaging adult audiences with informal science learning. Over the course of several months, the flock of ostrich displays engaged students, faculty, staff, visitors, and other members of the greater Lowell community.

The findings suggest that the use of the ostriches was in general a positive addition to the UMass Lowell campus. We found that those who reported seeing and reading the information on the ostriches about walking between campuses walked more to and between campuses than those who did not. Similarly, we found that those who saw and read the ostriches were used campus shuttles more frequently than those who did not. They were also more aware of the information about sustainable practices on campus, such as how to borrow a bicycle, that the campus is a tree campus with a campus garden, and that the campus has LEED buildings.

The challenges we experienced (theft and damage) were unexpected because we did not have any damage to the ostriches when they were on display multiple times in the City of Boston. However, we have learned that putting displays on a university campus comes with some risk. To mitigate that risk, we recommend putting displays in areas that are within a video camera’s range and adding a GPS chip to each display so that it could be recovered in the event it is stolen.

Despite the challenges faced, the GHOOTS project did provide a group of researchers the opportunity to engage the UMass Lowell’s community in the science of climate change, improve upon their understanding of current sustainability efforts on campus, and help the Office of Sustainability obtain some data about UMass Lowell community’s attitudes towards climate change and awareness of their sustainability efforts. This campaign also provided another means of promoting UMass Lowell’s sustainable practices.

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

Additional documentation to support the submission:

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