Enhancing and Monitoring Sustainability Culture at the University of Michigan

October 2014

A review of the University of Michigan's Campus Sustainability Integrated Assessment and Sustainability Cultural Indicators Program.

As the need to address major environmental challenges increases, the focus is turning from technological to social solutions. While technologies largely exist to address climate change, the question is whether there is a cultural consensus to use those technologies and make other behavioral adjustments. Sustainability culture is defined as a culture in which individuals are aware of major environmental (and social/economic) challenges, are behaving in sustainable ways, and are committed to a sustainable lifestyle for both the present and future. Colleges and universities are at the forefront of this cultural transition. In this paper, we review the University of Michigan’s (U-M) Campus Sustainability Integrated Assessment as background to our current work. We then describe new initiatives designed to change the culture of sustainability on campus. Next, the Sustainability Cultural Indicators Program (SCIP) is reviewed including the design and use of sample surveys of U-M students, faculty, and staff. Selected findings including indicators covering the initial year (2012) are then presented as well as preliminary results from SCIP’s second year (2013). Finally, the uses of these initial findings are discussed along with the potential for replicating SCIP at other universities and in other settings.