Study reveals varied sustainability awareness across academic disciplines

| Author: Robert Wang | Media Contact: Robert Wang

In a pioneering collaboration, scholars from Central Michigan University have embarked on an interdisciplinary research endeavor to investigate sustainability knowledge and attitudes among students, staff, and faculty, while also delving into the broader implications for sustainability education nationwide. Led by CMU Biology and Public & Nonprofit Administration graduate Eric Urbaniak, Rebecca Uzarski from the Department of Biology, and Salma Haidar from the School of Health Sciences, this comprehensive study sheds light on critical aspects of sustainability awareness within the academic community.

The research team collected anonymous responses from a diverse array of participants. The study aimed to evaluate sustainability knowledge and background across different academic disciplines, discern disparities within the CMU community, and gauge overall sustainability awareness to guide future initiatives.

Findings revealed intriguing insights. Students, staff and faculty in the College of Science and Engineering, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, and the College of Health Professions exhibited notably higher pro-sustainability attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors compared to their counterparts in the three other colleges at CMU. Additionally, a significant gap emerged between the sustainability knowledge demonstrated by students versus that of staff and faculty members, with the latter consistently showcasing a more pronounced pro-sustainability stance.

Building upon a decade-long dedication to sustainability initiatives by CMU students, including the establishment of zero-waste kitchens and the formation of a student-led Sustainability Office, this research amplifies the university's commitment to environmental stewardship. Eric Urbaniak's project, initiated in 2021, aimed to direct sustainability planning and education at CMU and resulted in valuable insights. Participants expressed a desire for increased institutional support for sustainability, including investment in waste reduction infrastructure, cleaner energy sources, and enhanced engagement opportunities.

This research underscores the vital role of educational institutions in prioritizing sustainability education and engagement, aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals set forth by the United Nations. By addressing disparities in sustainability awareness and behavior across academic domains, CMU and similar institutions can lead the way towards a more sustainable and equitable future, empowering stakeholders to drive positive change.

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