Curricular and co-curricular influences on student sustainability motivations, beliefs, and behaviors

Wednesday 2:05 PT / 3:05 MT / 4:05 CT / 5:05 ET Online


Lisa Gilbert, Cabrillo College
Hayden Gillooly, Williams College

The InTeGrate (Interdisciplinary Teaching about Earth for a Sustainable Future) project created sustainability-focused modules for undergraduate courses. Pre and post-instruction surveys asked participating students about their environmental sustainability motivations, beliefs, and behaviors (ES-MBB). After a course with InteGrate materials, students reported increased motivations to work for sustainable organizations after graduation and to do work that allows them to use their environmental knowledge (motivations). Students also reported increased concerns about five anthropogenic global developments on Earth (beliefs). Additionally, students reported more frequent engagement with twelve sustainable behaviors.

To explore the role of extracurricular and co-curricular influences on students' ES-MBB over time (e.g, from first year to graduation), we parsed the InTeGrate data by class year and by institution. Specifically, we categorized institutions according to whether they had a Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) rating by AASHE, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

Students from STARS and non-STARS institutions both demonstrate significant increases in their ES-MBB after taking a course with InTeGrate materials. The pre-instruction ES-MBB scores of first year students are not significantly different between STARS and non-STARS institutions. At STARS institutions, the pre-instruction ES-MBB increases with class year. At non-STARS institutions this is not the case, suggesting that there is something happening on STARS campuses that impacts student engagement with environmental sustainability. This produces a powerful combination: students who took courses with InTeGrate materials and spent three or more years at STARS institutions had the highest sustainability motivations, beliefs, and behaviors.