Graham Sustainability Institute

Evaluating Sustainability Initiatives on University Campuses: A Case Study from the University of Michigan’s Sustainability Cultural Indicators Program

November 2016

This paper highlights efforts to implement a pilot composting program at the University of Michigan. Evaluation results from the Sustainability Cultural Indicators Program (SCIP) will help determine if and in what ways composting efforts should be extended throughout the campus.

Following a brief review of ways in which SCIP data have been used by operations personnel at the University, a detailed discussion of one sustainability initiative and the use of SCIP data to assess its effectiveness is presented. The sustainability initiative deals with an expansion of composting in University residence halls beyond their dining facilities. A trial outreach program is introduced in one of the University’s 17 undergraduate residence halls is described together with a plan for evaluating its outcomes using SCIP data. The results of the evaluation will help determine if and in what ways a composting program should be extended to other residence halls. Outcomes from such sustainability trials can be helpful to university officials in determining the extent to which new sustainability initiatives are successful, whether or how they should be modified, and whether they should be implemented throughout other parts of the university, or discontinued.

The Sustainability Cultural Indicators Program (SCIP) is a multi-year program intended to inform University officials and others responsible for day-to-day operations including assessments of new sustainability initiatives.


Keywords: University of Michigan, campus, sustainability, evaluation research, composting, sustainability indicators, SCIP, community awareness, Michigan dining, composting