Campus sustainability tours: exploring an uncharted tool

Ellen R. Trahan (Department of Geography and Geology, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky, USA)
Leslie A. North (Department of Geography and Geology, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky, USA)
Margaret M. Gripshover (Department of Geography and Geology, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky, USA)
Jeanine M. Huss (School of Teacher Education, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky, USA)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Publication date: 4 September 2017

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore the development narrative and usage of environmental sustainability tours available at universities and takes an in-depth look into the Western Kentucky University (WKU) Green Tour.

Design/methodology/approach

Questionnaires and interviews were conducted with sustainability leaders involved in tours at their university to discover how they were developed and used. An assessment of the WKU Green Tour used surveys and pre- and post-tests to determine the reach of the tour to the campus population, student learning and faculty use.

Findings

There is a lack of data on sustainability tours, making it difficult to design new tours and validate their status as an essential tool. In the case of WKU, the need for data was confirmed, as current practices that were assumed to be effective proved ineffective. Multiple suggestions for improved tours are provided.

Research limitations/implications

The case study used in this paper is not representative of all university sustainability tours as they can vary widely. Given the lack of research on the subject, especially quantitative research, it is a valuable study.

Practical implications

Though sustainability tours are touted as a valuable tool for all campuses, more data are needed to validate this claim. Data suggest the tours are effective tools for increasing knowledge, but there is need for further assessment of tours and how they can be used to create a sustainably literate campus.

Originality/value

This study is the first to assess sustainability tours using mixed-methods.

Keywords

Citation

Trahan, E., North, L., Gripshover, M. and Huss, J. (2017), "Campus sustainability tours: exploring an uncharted tool", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 18 No. 6, pp. 908-922. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-12-2015-0200

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Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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