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Article
Publication date: 26 August 2014

Adam Zwickle, Tomas M. Koontz, Kristina M. Slagle and Jeremy T. Bruskotter

– The purpose of this article is to present a tool for assessing the sustainability knowledge of an undergraduate population.

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to present a tool for assessing the sustainability knowledge of an undergraduate population.

Design/methodology/approach

Multiple-choice questions were developed through soliciting expert input, focus groups, pilot testing, distribution via a large-scale online survey and analysis using item response theory.

Findings

The final assessment consists of 16 questions from the environmental, economic and social domains, covering foundational concepts within the topic of sustainability.

Research limitations/implications

This assessment represents an initial effort to quantify knowledge of the broad and abstract concept of sustainability. The authors plan to continue refining these questions to better differentiate between students with higher levels of knowledge and to replace those with answers that may change over time.

Practical implications

With knowledge of sustainability concepts becoming increasingly included in institution-wide learning objectives, there is a growing demand for a way to measure progress in this area. Our assessment tool can easily be used (via a campus-wide survey or distributed at the classroom level) by institutions to gauge current levels of knowledge and track changes over time, as well as assess the effectiveness of courses and curricula at meeting sustainability knowledge goals.

Originality/value

This assessment of sustainability knowledge is the first of its kind to include all three separate domains of sustainability, and we expect it to be useful across a variety of college and university contexts.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 15 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 5 May 2015

Victoria Campbell-Arvai

The purpose of this paper was to document the food-related environmental beliefs and behaviours of undergraduate university students. More specifically, this research was…

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3541

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper was to document the food-related environmental beliefs and behaviours of undergraduate university students. More specifically, this research was focussed on determining if environmental sustainability is a consideration in students’ food choices, identifying the specific choices and behaviours adopted to reduce their food-related environmental footprint, and documenting the role of gender and pro-environmental values in these food-related environmental beliefs and behaviours.

Design/methodology/approach

This research employed a mixed methods approach, i.e. focus group discussions and a survey, to document the food-related environmental beliefs and behaviours of undergraduate university students. The survey was informed by the results of the focus group discussions, and included standard measures of pro-environmental values and worldview.

Findings

Results from focus group discussions revealed a broad array of beliefs and behaviours related to the connection between food, food production and the environment. The survey confirmed these results, but indicated a preference for such actions as recycling and reducing food waste in contrast to such alternatives as reducing meat consumption or avoiding processed foods. These results suggest that educational campaigns could focus on strengthening beliefs about the food-environment connection, as well as help to empower students to take a greater variety of actions to reduce their food-related environmental footprint.

Originality/value

Relatively little attention has been focussed on individual beliefs and practices with respect to achieving more sustainable food consumption, particularly on university and college campuses. The research also represents a departure from previous work in that it utilizes both qualitative and quantitative methods, and takes a broad approach to the food-environment connection.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 16 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

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