Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.51
Liaison Aurora Sharrard
Submission Date Feb. 28, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of Pittsburgh
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 4.00 Jessica Sorick
Sustainability Intern
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::
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 list or sample of the questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment or the website URL where the assessment tool may be found:

1.What are the three dimensions of sustainability?
a. Society, Environment, Economy
b. Conservation, Capitalism, Democracy
c. Efficiency, Employment, Education
d. Environment, Education, Activism
e. I don’t know

2.Choose the best definition for “sustainable development”
a. Creating a government welfare system that ensure universal access to education, health care, and social services
b. Reserving land and resources for preservation so they can never be used
c. Building a neighborhood that is both socio-demographically and economically diverse
d. Meeting the needs of the present while also enabling future generations to thrive in a world that is environmentally responsible, socially equitable and economically robust
e. I don’t know

3.Choose the best description for the economic aspect of sustainability
a. Practices that allow a company's cost to equal their revenue
b. Practices that support long-term economic growth without negatively impacting social, environmental, or cultural aspects of the community
c. Social well-being marked by prosperity, justice, and high education rates
d. Ability for an economy to sustain low inflation levels while being globally competitive
e. I don’t know

4.Choose the best description for the social aspect of sustainability
a. Practices that allow the creation of jobs and delivering income to communities
b. Practices that help an economy grow and thrive without impacting social aspects of the community
c. Practices that provide equitable, diverse, and connected communities and a good quality of life
d. Stewardship of resources and managing and conserving the environment
e. I don’t know

5.The Triple Bottom Line (TBL) is the theory that recommends companies focus on what?
a. Land, Labor, Capital
b. Cost, Loss, Profit
c. People, Planet, Profit
d. Profit, Profit, Profit
e. I don’t know

6.Which of the following items are NOT related to sustainability?
a. Transportation and Mobility
b. Materials and Waste
c. Equity and Access
d. None of the Above
e. I don’t know

7.What is the name of the primary federal agency that oversees environmental regulation?
a. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
b. Department of Health, Environment, and Safety (DHES)
c. Department of Agriculture (DoA)
d. Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)
e. I don’t know

8.Some buildings on Pitt’s campus are LEED certified, what does this mean?
a. The buildings and belongings within are fully insured for all natural disasters
b. The buildings were built with fair-trade building supplies, free of lead and asbestos
c. The buildings were built by certified contractors
d. The buildings maximize operational efficiency and minimize environmental impact
e. I don’t know

9.The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 has how many goals?
e. I don’t know

10.Of the following, which could 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. I don’t know

11.The global climate change our planet is currently experiencing is:
a. Caused mostly by human activities
b. Caused equally by human activities and natural changes
c. Caused mostly by natural changes
d. None of the above because global climate change is not happening
e. I don’t know

12.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. I don’t know

13.Which of the following causes ocean acidification?
a. Absorption of carbon dioxide by the ocean
b. Chemical spills in the ocean
c. Warmer ocean temperatures
d. Natural seepages of oil and other chemicals
e. I don’t know

14.Which of the following are ecosystem services provided by a wetland?
a. Water purification
b. Flood protection
c. Farming
d. Wildlife habitats
e. a and d
f. a, b, and d

15.Ozone forms a protective layer in the earth’s upper atmosphere. What does ozone protect us from?
a. Acid rain
b. Climate change
c. Sudden changes in temperature
d. Harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays
e. I don’t know

16.Many economists argue that electricity prices in the US are too low because:
a. They do not reflect the energy lost over long power lines between electricity generators and end users
b. They do not reflect the costs of pollution from generating the electricity
c. The price of generating electricity is increasing due to aging infrastructure and the depletion of resources
d. As our population increases so does the demand for electricity
e. I don’t know

17.Climate change disproportionately impacts people earning a low income because:
a. Infrastructure in developing countries can be less resilient to storms
b. People earning a low income have fewer resources to rebuild or relocate after flooding
c. People earning a low income are more likely to live in areas threatened by flooding, water scarcity, and/or vector-borne disease
d. All of the above
e. I don’t know

18.As of 2018, the world’s richest 1% own what % of the world’s wealth?
e. I don’t know

19.In the U.S., poverty is defined as having an annual household wage of $26,200 or less for a family of four. In Allegheny County, what percentage of residents live below the poverty line?
e. I don’t know

20.Over the past three decades, what has happened to the difference between the wealth of the richest and poorest Americans?
a. The wealth difference has increased
b. The wealth difference has stayed about the same
c. The wealth difference has decreased
d. I don’t know

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

The literacy assessment, administered by the Office of Sustainability, was incorporated into the first triennial Pitt Sustainability Literacy & Culture Survey. This survey was deployed to students, faculty, and staff on all five campuses through our campus portal My Pitt, email, sustainability monthly newsletter, and social media in Spring 2020. It was developed primarily by researching sustainability literacy surveys administered by other universities and adopting the most common questions to best fit the needs of the University of Pittsburgh. Questions were then optimized by the Pitt Sustainability Team and Pitt's University Center for Social and Urban Research (UCSUR). Responses were used by the Pitt Sustainability Team to gauge the sustainability knowledge of Pitt students, faculty, and staff to create future offerings related to sustainability opportunities and challenges.

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

The online survey was advertised to faculty, students and staff at all five campuses through the My Pitt portal, sustainability newsletter, email lists, and social media channels by the Office of Sustainability. Participants were offered the chance to win a gift card to the University Store on Fifth. Despite the survey being administered during the COVID-19 pandemic, over 1,000 responses were received for the Pitt Sustainability Literacy and Culture Survey. Respondents were distributed as follows; 40% undergraduate students, 8% graduate students, 40% staff, and 11% faculty. A close representative sample of Pitt's campuses, students, faculty, and staff was achieved.

A brief summary of results from the literacy assessment(s):

Qualitative Takeaways:
1)The Pitt community has a general understanding of what sustainability is
2)The broad scope of sustainability is not widely understood
3)Climate change in not greatly understood
4)There is not a great understanding of wealth/poverty and its impacts
5)Not many people know about the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Website URL where information about the sustainability literacy assessment 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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.