On-Campus Resources

Staff Offices

Academic Departments

Student Groups

  • Clean Up Cincy
  • Society of Environmental Engineers (SEE)
  • Engineers Without Borders (EWB)
  • Environmental Law Society
  • Graduate Student Governance Association (GSGA)
  • Leaders in Environmental Awareness & Protection (LEAP)
  • UC Preservation Action Network (PAN)
  • Student Government (SGA)
  • US Green Building Council student chapter
  • Mountaineering Club
  • Planning Students Organization (PSO)
  • Serve Beyond Cincinnati (SBC)
  • Vegetarian Club

In an effort to gauge environmental literacy and to assess sustainability culture on campus, the Office of Sustainability regularly disseminates surveys.  The first sustainability survey was conducted in the fall of 2017, and the most recent sustainability survey was conducted in the fall of 2019.  


University of Cincinnati Sustainability Literacy and Culture Assessments

Beginning in 2017, the University of Cincinnati began using surveys to evaluate employee and student knowledge, perceptions, attitudes and behaviors related to sustainability. The goal of this longitudinal effort is to be able to gauge the visibility and effectiveness of UC’s sustainability education and engagement efforts in order to refine and improve them.

Surveys were administered in fall 2019 and fall 2021, with another scheduled to be administered in fall 2023.

 2017 Survey Results

 2019 Survey Results

 2017 and 2019 Survey Analysis

 2021 Survey Results Report

Findings and Trends: Sustainability Literacy

In general, the survey results across years paint a picture of a campus community at UC that is knowledgeable about sustainability. However, the degree of that knowledge seems to have stalled or even decreased since the previous assessment in 2019.  

Three quarters or more of students are familiar with the definition of sustainability and the cause of global warming. However, only slightly more than half are familiar with the idea of environmental justice, and less than 60% could accurately answer questions about levels of food waste in the United States.

Summary of survey findings from 2017-2021



2019 2021

Sustainable development can be described as…?




Which of the following is a GHG?




Approximately what is the world’s population?




Global warming is….(caused by humans)?




In the U.S. approximately how much food is wasted?




T/F: Environmental justice refers to how people of color and minority groups are often disproportionately burdened…?




Findings and Trends: Sustainability Culture

Both iterations of the campus sustainability culture survey demonstrate that UC students, staff and faculty are deeply aware of and concerned about sustainability issues. For example, the vast majority of respondents to the survey, when asked “How would you rate your feelings about environmental issues and sustainability, 83% responded that they were “extremely” or “very” important.

A minority of UC community members evaluated the university’s sustainability efforts as better than adequate. 32% said “adequate” in 2021; 18% said they were poor or very poor, and a large percentage indicated “I am not aware of UC’s sustainability efforts”—a similar percentage as the previous two surveys.” The surveys paint a picture of continued need and opportunity to engage UC students, staff and faculty further in the university’s sustainability efforts.

A high proportion of respondents (72% said they always or usually recycle items when on campus and at home).  Many also indicated significant support for plastic reductions and green infrastructure on campus, and moderate support for increasing the amount of local and organic food in campus dining halls.

Next Steps

Refinements made to the survey instrument in 2021 helped make the literacy questions about environmental justice and the causes of climate change more clear, and to provide more useful information about community member awareness and behaviors. They also added the ability to see responses broken out by campus role (student/staff/faculty).

The decrease in sustainability knowledge and lack of increase in awareness in campus sustainability efforts between 2019 and 2021 may be reflective of challenges in sustainability engagement during the height of the campus disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UC Sustainability Office is focused on finding ways to increase the overall response rate for the next survey in fall 2023—and on implementing increased peer education and other outreach programs to increase overall awareness, literacy and engagement.