Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 67.15
Liaison Andrea Trimble
Submission Date March 4, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of Virginia
AC-6: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Dana Schroeder
Sustainability Outreach and Engagement Specialist
Office for 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::
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. Which of the following is the most commonly used definition of sustainable development?
Creating government systems that ensure universal access to education, health care, and social services
Setting aside natural resources for permanent preservation
Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs
Building a community that is both socio-demographically and economically diverse

2. Which of these are commonly known as the three pillars of sustainability?
Energy, water, waste
Society, economy, environment
Community, region, ecosystem
Policy, business, individual action

3. According to consensus from 97% of actively publishing climate scientists, current global climate change seems to be:
Caused primarily by human activities.
Caused equally by both human activities and natural changes in the environment.
Caused primarily by natural changes in the environment.
None of these - There isn’t adequate scientific consensus about the cause of current global climate change.
None of these - Global climate change isn’t happening currently.

4. What is the primary scientific phenomenon driving current global climate change?
Deoxygenation of the atmosphere due to decomposing waste in landfills
Thinning of Earth’s upper ozone layer due to harmful airborne chemicals
Amplification of the greenhouse effect due to increasing levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere
None of these - Global climate change isn’t happening currently.

5. Which of the following global changes has NOT already occurred in the last 50 years?
Increase in average global temperature
Rise in global sea level
Decrease in southern hemisphere sea ice
Stronger and more frequent tropical storms

6. Globally, which of the following sectors is the largest emitter of carbon dioxide & other greenhouse gases that cause climate change?
Industrial processes
Electricity & heat for buildings

7. The United States’ share of global population is roughly 5%. Our share of global carbon dioxide emissions has been roughly what for the past 3 years?

8. Where does UVA’s electricity for powering and cooling our buildings come from? *select all that apply*
From an on-Grounds power plant that burns coal exclusively
From UVA owned large-scale solar farms in nearby counties
From a dam at Ragged Mountain Reservoir
Purchased from Dominion Energy
From solar panels on UVA rooftops

9. Which of the following items can you recycle at UVA? *select all that apply*
Plastic bags
Plastic bottles
Aluminum cans
Glass bottles
Cereal boxes
Milk cartons
Greasy pizza boxes

10. What is the most common cause of pollution of streams and rivers in the United States?
Dumping of garbage by cities
Surface water running off yards, city streets, paved lots, and farm fields
Litter near streams and rivers
Waste dumped by factories

11. Which of the following is NOT part of the US government definition of environmental justice?
All people should get fair treatment with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.
No group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental and commercial operations or policies.
All people should have an equal opportunity to participate in decisions about activities that may affect their environment and/or health.
All people should have equal access to natural resources like parks, forests, and other protected areas.

12. An economic system may produce destructive environmental impacts if the ________ within the system are not structured to avoid them.
Supply chains

13. Which of these is the key point of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement?
To protect biodiversity and end the deforestation of the world’s rainforests
To pursue a path to limit warming to 1.5℃
To limit sea level rise to 3 feet above current levels
To pursue a goal of 100% clean, renewable energy worldwide

14. Which of the following is NOT a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) as set by the United Nations (UN)?
Gender Equality
Democratic Elections
Zero Hunger
Affordable and Clean Energy

15. Of the following, which is the most impactful personal action you can take to reduce your carbon footprint (i.e. the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from your lifestyle):
Turning off your lights more often
Driving a hybrid car
Eating vegetarian
Hanging your clothes to dry

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

--UVA Office for Sustainability (OFS) developed and distributed survey in partnership with Institutional Research & Analytics (IRA)
--UVA Sustainability stakeholders (relevant faculty, Committee on Sustainability, etc.) helped set objectives and zero in on what we wanted to learn about UVA undergraduates
--OFS reviewed other higher ed institutions’ sustainability surveys, pulled some questions directly, adjusted many, wrote some new, then sought feedback/edits from stakeholders
--Final survey was 35 questions (15 required literacy questions, 15 optional values questions, and 5 optional demographics questions)
--OFS & IRA plan to resurvey every three years, catching a number of students in both their first year and their fourth year to be able to analyze individuals’ changes over time
--The second assessment has been planned and approved for Fall 2022, but has not yet occurred

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

--Office of Institutional Research & Analytics (IRA) pulled a random sample of 5,000 undergraduate emails
--The Office for Sustainability (OFS) sent each student a unique link to their Qualtrics survey in mid-October 2019
--Students had two weeks to complete the survey & received periodic reminders
--Respondents were entered to win $50 bookstore gift card, of which there were 50 available (incentives were intended to combat the likelihood of pro-sustainability bias in respondents)
--Responses totaled 850 – a 17% response rate from our sample of 5,000
--Some populations ended up being slightly overrepresented in the respondents (including women, asian/asian american students, white/caucasian students, and students already interested or involved in sustainability), but the initial sample was a true unbiased random sample.

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

Literacy score was percent correct of the 15 literacy questions, all equally weighted. Average total literacy score was 57%. Below are the percent correct for individual questions, in descending order:
--Cause of climate change (87%)
--Scientific consensus (84%)
--Definition of sustainability (82%)
--Recycled at UVA (78%)
--UVA's energy (69%)
--Three pillars of sustainability (58%)
--Environmental agreement (57%)
--Sustainable Development Goals (57%)
--Water pollution (55%)
--Per capita emissions (51%)
--Personal footprint (48%)
--Effects of climate change (47%)
--Environmental economics (40%)
--Environmental justice (27%)
--Top GHG emitters (15%)

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