A recent study demonstrates the importance of college's sustainability efforts to current and prospective students.
Initiatives for sustainability on college campuses have grown rapidly in the past few decades due to the increasing concern of climate change and environmental degradation. However, the COVID-19 pandemic generated many setbacks and obstacles for institutions to address health and environmental concerns.
With the pandemic restrictions now loosening, colleges are aiming to prioritize sustainability once again. Making sustainability a priority is increasingly important for higher education institutions as sustainable practices on campus are an important factor to both current and prospective students.
A recent study conducted by College Pulse in December 2022 surveyed undergraduate students to discover their views on the importance of sustainability at their institution and in their personal lives. With 42% of surveyed students saying they were very concerned about the effects of climate change and over 80% of all survey participants considering it somewhat important or very important that their college prioritize sustainability, it is clear that this is an area for growth and focus for universities nationwide.
The majority of students noted that their college or university has sustainable practices already in place, such as water refill stations and recycling bins. However, only 23% of participants believed that their university is very sustainable. This student perspective provides insight to what colleges are doing well in terms of sustainability, and what they could be doing better. When asked what the most important category of sustainability their institution could improve on, the top response was energy use and sources with waste management as the second most common answer.
As sustainability and positive environmental impact continues to be important for younger generations and college students, it is crucial that institutions prioritize sustainability programs. CAS offers standards for sustainability on campus that supports the development of such programs by providing a research-based foundation for programming and activities. As a result, student affairs will be more prepared to provide valuable opportunities for emerging sustainability leaders. CAS's Sustainability Programs standards can be found here and the accompanying self-assessment guide can be found here.
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