Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 49.23
Liaison Maria Dahmus
Submission Date June 21, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of St. Thomas
EN-6: Assessing Sustainability Culture

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Elise Amel
Faculty Fellow
Office of Sustainability Initiatives
"---" 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:

The sustainability culture assessment was developed by faculty and staff in the Office of Sustainability Initiatives in March 2018, drawing from two established sources: fellow AASHE institution University of New Hampshire, and the National Survey of Students Engagement (NSSE). Our assessment included constructs of awareness, interest, agency, commitment, behaviors, perceptions of institutional commitment and pervasiveness of sustainability. Student surveys included 9 sets of questions for a total of 68 data points per participant; faculty surveys consisted of 7 sets of question for a total of 62 data points per participant.

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:

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

The assessment plan is to administer surveys using a pre- and post- approach for the same cohort of students and representative samples of faculty and staff in both pre-test and post-test. The pre- assessment was administered in April of 2018 with plans to administer a post-assessment in 2020. The assessment was structured in a way that enables longitudinal tracking of several different cohorts.

The pre- assessment survey was sent to all 1,955 employees (faculty and staff) and 9,436 students in April 2018. For employees, the response rate was 42% (n=822) and completion rate was 39.3% (n=768). For students the response rate was 19% (n=1789) and completion rate was 15.8% (1,488).

Among those completing the survey, full time staff were slightly overrepresented (+14.5%) and adjunct faculty were slightly underrepresented (-10%). Among students, the male/female split of respondents was 38.4%/61.5% while the population is roughly evenly split (50.8%/49.1%); graduate students (-4.1%) and freshmen (-3.5%) were slightly underrepresented; white respondents were slightly overrepresented (+5%).

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

Results for Students
Academic Experience-While the vast majority of student respondents (72%) have integrated multiple disciplines in their projects, less than half (45%) have completed an assignment that evaluates the sustainability of some activity or participated in a campus or community sustainability project (37%). Only 28% believe that St. Thomas emphasizes learning about sustainability.

Only 17% considered sustainability when choosing to enroll at St. Thomas, yet 67% believe that sustainability knowledge, skills and experience are important for their career.

In terms of awareness, more than half of the respondents knew nothing or very little about most of the highest profile sustainability efforts on campus (11/15 efforts), yet over 70% were somewhat or very interested in all of the sustainability issues measured in the survey (16/16 issues).

Regarding behavior, students excel in some of the most common private sphere behaviors (e.g., recycling and reusing materials) and show lower levels of engagement in public sphere activities (e.g., leadership and group activities).

Results for Employees
In terms of perception of the university, over 70% of employee respondents think St. Thomas emphasizes learning about sustainability to at least some degree. While most respondents agreed that St. Thomas contributes to their understanding of social justice, most half believe that St. Thomas does very little to contribute to their acquisition of skills that can help organizations become more sustainable.

More than half don’t know much or anything about 5/15 high-profile sustainability efforts on campus, yet over 75% of them are somewhat or very interested in 16/16 sustainability issues mentioned in the survey. Similar to students, the vast majority of faculty recycle and reuse materials while they lag in public sphere engagement such as political action and participation in group activities.

While only 17% considered sustainability when choosing to work at St. Thomas, over 90% believe that sustainability is relevant to their jobs. Over 90% feel empowered to contribute to sustainability at St. Thomas and over 98% are committed to contributing to sustainability at St. Thomas!

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

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about 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.