STARS Facts: Strengths and Challenges for Two Year Institutions
Gearing up for the launch of STARS 2.0 in 2013, the STARS team is developing and refining ideas for STARS that will raise the bar for advancing sustainability in higher education. Developing an understanding of how institutional demographics such as size and type affect sustainability performance is an important step in this process. One valuable resource at our disposal that was not available while STARS was being developed is the data being submitted by participating institutions. May’s STARS blog focuses on strengths and challenges for two-year institutions participating in STARS.
Average Scores per Institution Type
Note: Differences were found to be statistically significant based on a .05 critical value.
In terms of overall and category-level scores, 4-year institutions score higher than 2-year institutions, overall and in each STARS category. Despite the overall disparities, there are certain STARS credits where two-year institutions earn higher points in comparison to 4-year institutions.
Credits of Strength for Two-Year Institutions
ER 13: Sustainability Literacy Assessment
This credit recognizes institutions that assess the sustainability literacy of students. Institutions earn 1 point for conducting a sustainability assessment and may earn an additional point for conducting a follow-up assessment.
OP 3: Indoor Air Quality
This credit recognizes institutions that are working to protect the human health of building occupants by monitoring and protecting indoor air quality. Institutions earn the full 2 points if all buildings are covered by an indoor air quality management plan.
PAE 12: Employee Satisfaction Evaluation
This credit recognizes institutions that take an active interest in the satisfaction of their employees. Institutions earn 2 points for conducting an evaluation that allows for anonymous feedback at least once every five years to measure employee satisfaction.
PAE 18: Positive Sustainability Investments
This credit recognizes institutions that seek positive investments that promote sustainability. Institutions earn the maximum of 9 points available for this credit by investing 30 percent or more of their investment pool in sustainable industries and businesses, sustainability investment funds, community development financial institutions, or socially responsible mutual funds.
Credits of Challenge for Two-Year Institutions
The credits identified below showed significant score disparities between 2-year and 4-year institutions. The 2-year institutional highlights at the end of this section demonstrate best practices within two of these areas.
ER 12: Sustainability Immersive Experience
Institutions earn two points for offering at least one immersive, sustainability-focused educational study program. Partial points are not awarded for this credit. 57% of 2-year institutions received full points while 99% of 4-year institutions received full points. The duration of academic programs may limit opportunities for participation in immersive programs, which may explain the disparity among groups for this credit.
Best Practice among 2-year Institutions – Eastern Iowa Community College District (STARS Silver, June 2011)
Eastern Iowa Community College District has partnered with two institutions in Denmark – EUC-Syd and Dalum Agricultural College on a project which allows 5 faculty members and 10 students to spend a month in Denmark studying agriculture-based renewable energy.
OP 15: Student Commute Modal Split
This credit recognizes institutions where students use preferable modes of transportation to travel to and from the institution. Institutions earn the maximum 4 points for this credit by having all students use alternative modes of transportation for getting to and from campus. On average, 2-year institutions earned .4 points out of 4, while 4-year institutions earned 2.3 points out of 4. This disparity may be explained by the fact that two-year institutions often have more commuting students in relation to residential students, which are more likely to use alternative modes of transportation.
PAE 9: Support Programs for Future Faculty
This credit recognizes institutions that are taking steps to build a more diverse faculty by supporting future faculty members from underrepresented groups. Institutions earn 4 points by administering or participating in a program that helps build a diverse faculty throughout higher education. 44% of 2-year institutions received full points while 76% of 4-year institutions received full points. Students are more likely to pursue faculty career ambitions later in their academic careers, such as during graduate school. For this reason, two-year institutions may not have a significant demand for these types of support programs.
Best Practice among 2-year Institutions – Delta College (STARS Silver, January 2011)
The President’s Scholar Program at Delta College in Michigan provides support and assistance to under-represented individuals interested in pursuing further education and careers as faculty members. Aimed at increasing the diversity of full-time faculty, the program identifies promising individuals and provides mentoring and assistance in securing further education.
For the development of STARS 2.0, the staff is considering ways to enhance the applicability of STARS among an increasingly diverse array of institutions. We look forward to sharing proposed changes in a public comment period later this year. In the meantime, please send your ideas to email@example.com.
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