Check out the results of our 2019 student survey to read the feedback that helped us build the Climate Solutions Toolkit.
In the fall of 2019, PICS partnered with the University of Victoria Sustainability Project (UVSP) to create an online survey for students to better understand how students are getting involved in sustainability and climate issues on campus: what works, and what is missing? We received over 400 responses, with students from every faculty on campus giving us feedback. This feedback helped us build the Climate Solutions Toolkit, and we want to share it with you too.
We've summarized the key points below, but you can also dig into the full results in the complete survey report here:
Signposts for Better Student Engagement at UVic
We found that 76% of students surveyed are not currently involved in climate solutions or sustainability activities on campus. Furthermore, most students (69%) do not consider themselves ‘very well informed’ on the topic of climate change. However, most respondents (79%) who are not ‘very well informed’ on climate change would be interested in further opportunities for learning and engagement around climate change and climate solutions. There is clearly an appetite for the creation of further learning opportunities around climate change and climate solutions at UVic and for faculty, staff and others at UVic to help facilitate this.
Our next question was, what do students think that programming should look like?
In addition to asking students if they are currently actively engaged with climate solutions on campus, we also asked how they want to get involved.
In terms of events, 74% of respondents were interested in learning and knowledge opportunities (such as lectures), with significant interest in interactive workshops (57%) and research mentoring and skill development (52%) also reported by those surveyed. Many students (59%) also noted an interest in participating in direct actions and protests. These responses show that students have diverse interests, and there is a high level of interest in programming that could be facilitated by faculty members and the university administration, in addition to student-run campaigns.
Opportunities and Challenges
Despite these encouraging results, there are important considerations that must be addressed when creating programming for students in the future. Unsurprisingly, packed student schedules were highlighted, with most respondents (78%) indicating that being ‘too busy to attend’ climate solutions and sustainability events is a barrier to their participation.
Some students feel that existing opportunities for engagement on campus do not target all departments equally in their promotion and content, and would like to see more outreach to departments that are not seen as having an explicit environmental focus. Other survey respondents feel that existing opportunities for engagement are not accessible, as these students perceive them as intimidating or requiring a high level of existing knowledge about climate solutions and sustainability initiatives. Both of these concerns should be taken into consideration when creating future programming to ensure it is accessible and appealing to all UVic students.
Another important takeaway from the survey was that students think communication and outreach about climate and sustainability activities on campus is inadequate. Only 5% of respondents ‘strongly agree’ that it is easy to find information about climate solutions and sustainability initiatives on campus, with almost half of respondents (47%) indicating they ‘do not know how to get involved’.
There is strong interest among UVic students to learn more about climate solutions and get involved in the campus community, but there are also challenges to participation that need to be considered. We hope the results of this survey will help members of the campus community create programming that is informative, accessible, and engaging for all UVic students.