The topic of sustainability is a big discussion that can be overheard nearly everywhere, but perhaps nowhere as much as on university campuses. But just how much do students value having sustainability issues being raised in their education, and what are their expectations in regards to this topic when entering university?
That’s what McGill student David Gray-Donald set out to discover. By developing a comprehensive survey aimed at the undergraduate population of the University, Gray-Donald wanted to determine how much value students place on sustainability being integrated into their university education.
The survey was completed by 398 undergrads who were chosen at random in dining areas throughout both the Downtown and Macdonald campuses. Ultimately, the hope was the survey would reveal how important learning about sustainability is to students and how well they feel their expectations are being met.
Findings of the survey did conclude that the majority of undergraduate students surveyed do place a substantial value on having an understanding of sustainability upon graduation. However, the study also looked at whether students would be open to having more integration of sustainability into their courses, the results of which demonstrated how department-specific this issue can be.
Recommendations have also been put forward on how to meet student expectations regarding sustainability, including departmental support, faculty leaders and collaborative extra-curricular experience possibilities.
The study is available in its entirety here: student_valuation_of_sustainability_in_curriculum.pdf
Alternatively, the executive summary can be read here: executive_summary.pdf