Universities have begun to officially recognize advancing sustainability as an institutional goal. This paper reports on research on students’ awareness, attitudes, and behaviors at the University of Vermont as a means of understanding cultural acceptance of sustainability. We report on the results of a survey administered by an applied research methods class working in partnership with the University’s Office of Sustainability. Survey respondents report strong understanding of sustainability and believe it is important. They perceive the University’s performance as strongest along environmental efforts and weakest along economic lines. Respondents were most likely to engage in sustainability behaviors, like waste and energy reduction, and least likely to attend campus events regarding sustainability. Responses to open-ended questions suggest skepticism of the University’s commitment to sustainability, seeing it as more of a marketing effort, and express a desire for more concrete initiatives to foster sustainable behaviors and culture on campus. Our implications focus on ways to promote a more holistic and nuanced understanding of sustainability.
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