Measurement of College Students’ Attitudes, Beliefs, and Behaviors Regarding Sustainability

By Gloria McNamara, Lesley Rennis and Cynthia S. Wiseman.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 17, 2014 $US5.00

This exploratory study examined the personal sustainability practices and attitudes of urban community college students as well as their beliefs regarding campus sustainability policies. The Sustainable Living survey was administered to 200 students and measured 1) the frequency of their sustainable practices, 2) their level of concern for sustainable issues, and 3) their level of satisfaction with the school’s indoor environment and the college’s implementation of sustainability policies. The findings show that the majority of students personally implement energy conservation, waste management, and water conservation measures only sometimes; however, these same students, in the aggregate, rated sustainability issues as a public concern of great importance. Thus, it appears, as correlation analysis demonstrates, that students do not personally act on their concerns. Regarding the school’s environment, students were very aware of the campus’ green purchasing procedures and landscaping practices, and this may have contributed, as linear regression analysis suggests, to student satisfaction with the number of sustainability opportunities available to them [F (2, 178) =75.619, R2= .459, p < .000]. The implication of this study is that educational institutions may serve an important role in facilitating the adoption of sustainability behaviors by students through modeling these practices on campus and by providing opportunities for student involvement. Such opportunities should enable practical applications of sustainability so that students can more easily act on their concerns.

Keywords: Sustainability, Green Campuses, School Environments

The International Journal of Sustainability Education, Volume 9, Issue 3, April 2014, pp.31-46. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 17, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 720.105KB)).

Dr. Gloria McNamara

Assistant Professor, Health Education Department, City University of New York, New York, New York, USA

Dr. Gloria McNamara is an assistant professor at the City University of New York, where she teaches undergraduate courses in fitness, nutrition, health studies, and environmental health. Her research focuses on health promotion and behavior change mainly by targeting individual's cognitions as well as their physical and social environments. In addition, she has served as a consultant to the NYC Board of Education's Office of Food and Nutrition Services and other non-profit health and community services.

Dr. Lesley Rennis

Assistant Professor, Health Education Department, City University of New York, BMCC, New York, New York, USA

Dr. Lesley Rennis is an associate professor at the City University of New York, where she teaches undergraduate courses in health, stress management, and human sexuality.

Dr. Cynthia S. Wiseman

Assistant Professor, Department of Developmental Skills, City University of New York, BMCC, New York, New York, USA

Dr. Cynthia Wiseman is an assistant professor at the City University of New York. She has been actively involved in initiatives fostering global competencies and sustainable behaviors in the college community for the last 6 years. She attended Salzburg Seminar in 2005, serves on the BMCC Globalization Committee and the BMCC Sustainability Committee, and served on a subcommittee on Sustainability as part of the BMCC Leadership Fellows, 2011 - 2012. She worked with student leaders to organize the First Annual BMCC Sustainability Fair in May 2012.