The purpose of this study is to assess environmental concern at a Midwest university, analyze trends in concern over time and determine the effect of the development of a campus sustainability office.
A multi-question survey was administered through peer-to-peer recruitment from an undergraduate environmental science class each fall from 2010–2017. This exercise was originally developed as a pedagogical exercise on the scientific method.
Over eight years, incoming freshmen have expressed more concern that humans are harming the environment and students also express greater concern as they progress through college.
The first year of the survey (2010) and the year that the lead PI was on sabbatical (2014) saw reduced response rates (∼1%–3% of the student population) compared to 6%–9% of the student population in other years.
Responses to all of the questions in the survey provide guidance for university administrations and sustainability offices about the concerns of the campus community, awareness about campus efforts and support for sustainability activities on campus.
Few studies have been published on students’ perspectives on environmental concern and sustainability activities on university campuses. These data provide an overview of environmental concern, perceived government action and empowerment to action over an eight-year period. This approach is recommended as a technique to teach the scientific method in introductory classes and as a means to collect data about student perspectives on sustainability.
The authors would like to thank the ENVI 110: Introduction to Environmental Science classes from 2010 through 2017 that helped to administer this survey. Thanks to Julie Whitaker who helped to administer the survey and enter the data for the first (2010) data collection effort.
Speer, J.H., Sheets, V., Kruger, T.M., Aldrich, S.P. and McCreary, N. (2020), "Sustainability survey to assess student perspectives", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 21 No. 6, pp. 1151-1167. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-06-2019-0197Download as .RIS
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