Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Cal Poly Humboldt's Sustainability Literacy Assessment (SLA) is a method for evaluating students’ skills, knowledge, and attitudes about fundamental sustainability concepts. Developed through a partnership between the Office of Sustainability and the Department of Sociology, the SLA is also an effective tool for evaluating the success of sustainability education initiatives within the framework of a number of campus academic goals and programs, including:

  • Cal Poly Humboldt Undergraduate Institutional Learning Outcome #2. Sustainability and Environmental Awareness: Humboldt graduates will be able to explain how the functions of the natural world, society, and the economy depend on the resilience, sustainability, and conservation of ecological systems.
  • 2021-2026 Cal Poly Humboldt Strategic Plan. Resources Stewardship & Sustainability Goal 4: Create a Sustainable Institution. Champion sustainability by realizing the interconnectedness of the environment, the economy, and our society.
  • CSU Sustainability Policy. The CSU will seek to further integrate sustainability and climate literacy into the academic curriculum working within the normal campus consultative process. Activities can include but will not be limited to supporting multi-disciplinary course development, utilizing the campus as a living laboratory model, connecting sustainability with social justice, strengthening community partnerships, and creating appropriate learning outcomes. 
  • Sustainability Tracking and Rating System (STARS), which awards credit to campuses that have implemented sustainability literacy assessments.

First launched in 2017, the SLA now allows us to measure how sustainability literacy evolves over students’ time at Cal Poly Humboldt, regardless of their major or degree of study. Through a longitudinal study approach, we are able to compare results of surveys taken by new students with those taken by graduating students.

Survey Results

Below are Results Comparison Charts for some of the questions in the SLA:

Chart showing that year by year over 80% of respondents to the sustainability literacy assessment state that they have a "passion for" or "considerable interest in" sustainability.

Chart showing that year after year over 80% of student participants correctly answer a multiple choice question about what sustainability means with regard to natural resources.

Over 60% of students respond with the correct answer to the question, "A technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all stages of a product's life from cradle to grave"

Over 50% of student respondents indicate they always use a reusable water bottle or coffee container

For more information on the sustainability literacy assessment, or to see more results, email Morgan King,