Survey shows most students prioritize sustainability efforts while at Penn State


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Results from Penn State Student Affairs’ Sustainability PULSE Survey — a fall 2018 survey of students’ knowledge of sustainability practices — confirmed that the average student is in touch with the University’s efforts around sustainability and generally values the practice of sustainability.

The survey asked 7,500 undergraduate students and 1,500 graduate/professional students about sustainability. A total of 1,228 students completed the questionnaire. The survey gauged students’ opinions on sustainability efforts within the University.

Penn State’s Sustainability Efforts

A majority of students indicated that they “somewhat agree” or “strongly agree” that the University prioritizes sustainability as a goal and provides useful resources and opportunities around sustainability. Of Penn State’s various sustainability efforts, students were most aware of and most often used the recycling/compost programs and the CATA bus system. Students were least aware of the Sustainable Communities Collaborative and RIDEpass.  

Students’ Personal Sustainability Efforts

Nearly 90% of the students surveyed said that they make conscious efforts to be knowledgeable about sustainability practices. More than 80% indicated that sustainability is a personal goal and that they would like to learn more about sustainability while they are at Penn State.

While 85% of students indicated they recycle regularly, students who do not recycle regularly cited three top barriers to recycling: confusion about which items are recyclable and which bin to put them put in; inconvenience; and not knowing how to properly recycle.

Communication Resources for Sustainability

As many students indicated they would like to learn more about sustainability, respondents were asked what programs and efforts they would like to know more about. The top three responses were tips for sustainable living in the residence hall and/or home (59%); student organization/program opportunities that focus on sustainability or the environment (36%); and research projects that address sustainability (36%). Respondents said that social media, on-campus signs, and campus-wide emails would be most beneficial for learning about sustainability at the University.

About Penn State Student Affairs Research and Assessment

Penn State Student Affairs Research and Assessment (SARA) coordinates the development of a broad range of assessment efforts to evaluate student experience and educational outcomes and provide data relevant to Student Affairs, the academic colleges, and the Commonwealth Campuses. SARA supports the mission of Student Affairs and the University by serving as a leader in gathering actionable data that inform decision-making, planning, and improvement efforts around programs, initiatives and policies. To learn more about the PULSE Sustainability Survey, visit SARA’s website.

Last Updated December 03, 2019

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