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Contributed by Matt Morgan on 02/09/2014
Srijana Bajracharya, professor and graduate chair in the Department of Health Promotion and Physical Education, presented a paper at the 10th International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability in Split, Croatia, on January, 24.
This study was conducted with a faculty member from West Liberty University and her graduate assistant from last year. The aim of the research study was to examine various characteristics and values as predictors of students’ attitudes toward sustainability in general and their related behaviors that support environmental sustainability. A 37-item survey was developed to measure students’ basic awareness regarding sustainability, their values and perceptions, and personal behaviors. The data was gathered via Qualtrics electronic survey method from two similar institutions - one located in West Virginia (West Liberty University) and another in Central New York (Ithaca College). While these institutions are similar in some aspects, they are drastically different in terms of their sustainability initiatives and campus culture regarding environmental issues. Therefore, an additional purpose of this study was to determine if institutional initiative plays a role in changing student pro-environmental behaviors.
A total of 373 students completed the survey. The preliminary findings show differences in perception items and some behavior items by institution and gender. Literature shows mixed results in terms of external factors such as institutional initiative being a change agent in students’ behaviors.
Data will be analyzed further to investigate students’ narrative responses and the items that have not yet been examined in order to determine what factors and concepts are important to identify students’ behavior. Based on these findings there may be recommendations for further research agenda, grant writing ideas, assistance with IC's 2020 initiative, improvements to ICC curriculum, A Quest for Sustainable Future, and justifications as to why the environmental sustainability initiative is one of the most important parts of IC's education plan. This will also help West Liberty University to work on their environmental sustainability agenda.