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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Expired
Overall Score Expired
Liaison Michele Hebert
Submission Date Aug. 26, 2011
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.0

University of Alaska Fairbanks
ER-13: Sustainability Literacy Assessment

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Expired Susan Todd
Assoc. Professor of Conservation Planning
Dept. of Resources Management
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Has the institution conducted a sustainability literacy assessment?:
Yes

Did the assessment include a baseline evaluation of students and then a follow-up evaluation of the same cohort?:
Yes

A copy of the questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment:
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A copy of the questions included in the sustainability literacy assessment :

ENTRY QUIZ

Question
A species is considered extinct when it s population drops below about 50 individuals.
FALSE


Question
All keystone species are predators, which is why their removal has a major impact.
FALSE


Question
Allocation is the process of locating a school of fish using sonar.
FALSE

Question
1/4 of all pesticides applied in US agriculture are used on cotton.
TRUE


Question
Almost half of all the world's exports of wood products are paper and paperboard.
TRUE


Question
It takes an estimated 1,000 tons of water to produce one ton of grain, prompting water experts to refer to grain as "virtual water."
FALSE


Question
Cellulose, which is primarily carbon, exists in higher concentration in young fast-growing stands while nitrogen is higher in older forests with high levels of biomass.
FALSE


Question
IUCN World Conservation Congress in 2008 announced "an extinction crisis" with almost one in four mammals at risk of disappearing forever.
TRUE


Question
We are currently in the 6th mass extinction the Earth has seen. This one is due to human impacts.
TRUE


Question
Nitrogen is "the lunch that everyone is trying to steal." It is the nutrient that is most often limiting.
TRUE

Question
About 1,000 kg of corn are needed to produce 100 kg of pork, which in turn could be converted into 10 kg of human flesh (if the person ate nothing else).
TRUE


Question
Each species of tree has a unique lifespan. Bristlecone pine can live 4,000 to 5,000 years, while an aspen tree lives little more than 100 years.
TRUE


Question
In 1895, one of the primary reasons given for establishing the National FOREST system in the US was to maintain, promote, and restore desirable WATER quantity, quality, and timing.
TRUE

Question
Forage is feed for livestock, including cattle, sheep and horses. It includes grasses, leaves, legumes and other crops raised for livestock feed.
TRUE

Question
If you have high harvests of a renewable resource, such as trees or fish, you inevitably end up with a smaller stock.
FALSE


Question
In dry areas, grazing ruminants (such as cattle) on natural grasslands can be a more sustainable use of these lands than plowing them for cropland.
TRUE


Question
Red meat requires so much petroleum and water to produce that limiting our consumption of it is considered one of the most effective things we can do to limit our ecological footprint.
TRUE


Question
New York City found it was less expensive to purchase and preserve large portions of the forests of the Catskill watershed than to build a new $6 billion water filtration plant.
TRUE

Question
In the US in 1900, we used virtually zero Kcal of fossil (ancient) fuels per Kcal of food produced. Today, we use an average of one Kcal of fossil fuels for each Kcal of food we grow.
TRUE

Question
In the US, over 2/3 of the grain we grow is fed to domestic livestock, not to people.
TRUE

Question
Loam is a type of soil rich in organic matter.
FALSE


Question
Total agricultural production in Africa is lower now than it was in the mid-1970s.
TRUE


Question
Trying to limit the number and the efficiency of fishermen is a major part of fisheries management.
TRUE


Question
The global human population is growing at an ever-increasing rate.
FALSE

Question
Two out of every 3 people on Earth currently live on what CONTINENT?
Answer
ASIA



Question
This federation of states has a living standard as high or higher than that in the US. Together, the states in this federation have 500 million people, more wealth, a larger market for US products, lower infant mortality, higher life expectancy, higher literacy rates, and stiffer environmental laws than the US. What is the name of this federation (two words)?
Answer
EUROPEAN UNION


Question
We doubled world food production between 1960 and 2000 and now half of all arable land is used for food production. How much of an increase in food production is expected to be needed by 2050?
Answer
a. double the amount of food needed today
b. 50% more than the amount of food needed today
c. food needs are expected to remain the same over the next several decades.


Question
Humus is:
Answer
a. a type of soil rich in nutrients
b. a measure of the amount of moisture in the soil
c. the organic matter left after all recognizable material has decomposed
d. a popular food in the Middle East made from chickpeas
e. the top layer of soil

Question
The developing world is demanding more of which of the following in their diet?
Answer
a. leafy green vegetables
b beans
c meat
d. grains

Question
The answer to the above question represents a trophic level at the ________ of the trophic pyramid.
Answer
a. Top b. Bottom

Question
As you go up the trophic pyramid, each layer LOSES roughly ______% of the biomass and food energy of the layer below.
Answer
90

Question
Is the "stock" or population of a renewable resource a variable in the sustained yield equation?
Answer
NO

Question
Most trees grow best in what amount of sunlight:
Answer
a. very little sun; dense shade
b. dappled shade
c. part sun
d. full sun
Note that this means that clear cuts can be the best way to get full sun to the seedlings. Something very few people recognize.


Question
Which fuel provides most of the energy the world uses today (all uses, all countries)?
Answer
Petroleum or
oil

Question
The US currently imports roughly how much of its oil needs?
Answer
a. 15% b. 25% c. 60% d. 100%

Question
Which ONE of the following is FALSE?
Answer
a. Every day, more than 70 million disposable plastic water bottles are used in the US b. Every year, 22 Billion bottles are disposed of c. In most landfills, it will take 1,000 years for plastic bottles to decompose. d. In incinerators, plastic releases toxic fumes which attack the ozone layer e. The two most popular brands of bottled water, Dasani and Aquafina, are just filtered tap water. f.Tap water in almost all cities in the US is safe to drink g. 80% of the Earth's surface is now water bottles.


Question
Prior to 1909, there were just two ways for nitrogen to be "fixed" into a form plants could use. What were these two methods?
Answer
a. biological and artificial (or industrial) b. atmospheric (lightning) and artificial (or industrial) c. biological and atmospheric (lightning)

Question
In the late 1800s, scientists were worried that the world would run out of nitrogen, but a third method of fixing nitrogen was invented in 1909. What was it?
Answer
a. biological b. atmospheric c. artificial ( or industrial)


Question
To the best of our knowledge, how many MASS extinctions have there been in the Earth's history?
Answer
5
five


Question
In the early 1700s, the British discovered ways to use coal and soon this enormous source of energy allowed them to overtake the Dutch, who were still attached to their old technology (whale oil). But then the British also failed to innovate, and by 1940, they were replaced on the world stage by a new nation with a new source of energy. What nation was it and what was their new source of energy?
Answer
A. China and solar power B. China and coal power C. USA and coal power D. USA and petroleum E. Germany and wind power

Question
Bees are essential to the pollination of many of our crops.
TRUE


Question
Biomass is the total mass of living organisms in a given area.
TRUE


Question
By definition, the larger the "stock," or population, of a renewable resource, the larger the sustained yield of that resource.
FALSE

Question
Due to our current high harvest levels of timber in the U.S., the stock (in terms of total volume of timber on the land) is decreasing.
FALSE


Question
Gifford Pinchot taught that the sustainable harvest of many living resources is a way of capturing what? (1 word)
Answer
extra production mortality dead and down wood the sustained yield


Question
To the nearest billion, the world human population is currently:
Answer
3 billion 5 billion 7 billion 9 billion


Question
By the year 2050, the world's human population is expected to be about how large (to nearest billion)?
Answer
3 billion 5 billion 7 billion 9 billion




Question
The three most populous countries in the world today are:
Answer
Kenya, the Congo and Japan Japan, China, and India China, India and the USA USA, Bangladesh, and Brazil


Question
Biologist E.O. Wilson came up with the acronym HIPPO to describe the key causes of extinction of plants and animals today. What does each letter stand for? H stands for:
Answer
harmful rays hazardous wastes habitat loss huge losses due to storms and tsunamis


Question
I stands for:
Answer
Information lacking Inadequate adaptability Innumerable problems Introduced species


Question
P stands for:
Answer
Population growth of humans Population growth of negative species Poor adaptability Poor reproduction success


Question
P also stands for:
Answer
Pollution Problems in survival Pollination Photosynthesis


Question
O stands for:
Answer
Organic Overharvesting Optimum yield Old growth forests


Question
The sustained yield equation, including migration, is:
Answer
Births + Inmigration - Deaths + Stock > Harvest - Emigration Births + Inmigration - Deaths - Emigration > Harvest Stock + Births + Inmigration > Harvest + Deaths - Emigration Births - Deaths > Harvest + Emigration - Inmigration Births - Deaths > Harvest + Emigration - Inmigration A and C (Births + Inmigration - Deaths + Stock> Harvest â Emigration and Stock + Births + Inmigration > Harvest + Deaths + Emigration) B and E (Births + Inmigration - Deaths - Emigration > Harvest and Births - Deaths > Harvest + Emigration - Inmigration)


Question
The "demographic transition" occurs when
Answer
the death rate exceeds the birth rate the growth rate of a nation equals the replacement rate the average number of children per woman declines dramatically when families realize that most of their children will survive and therefore start having fewer children a and b (the death rate exceeds the birth rate and the growth rate of a nation equals the replacement rate) c and d (the average number of children per woman declines dramatically and when families realize that most of their children will survive and therefore start having fewer children)


Question
The size of the human population has increased in the past 40 years due to
Answer
A a decrease in the death rate B an increase in the number of children the average woman has during her life C large increases in food production from the "green revolution" of the 1970s improvements in medical care D A AND C E all of the above


Question
More than 99% of the wood in trees is produced from:
Answer
nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus nitrogen, magnesium and calcium nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water carbon dioxide and water chlorophyll, water and sugar
The point I try to make in class regarding this is that wood is a miracle substance that does not take much from the soil. Not like we want to cut down every tree, but wood is a renewable product that can have less environmental impact than many other building materials

Question
About 60% of the calories consumed by the world's human population come from three types of grass seeds. They include:
Answer
potatoes, fish, and beef
beef, corn, and wheat
french fries, hamburgers, and coke
rice, wheat, and corn
bananas, millet, and sorghum



Question
Match the person with his/her achievement:


Question Items Answer Items
A. Popularized the concept of sustained yield in the US and is considered the father of forestry in the US was GIFFORD PINCHOT A. John Muir
B. Known as the father of wildlife management ALDO LEOPOLD B. Teddy Roosevelt
C. Argued for preservation more than use and instrumental in establishing Yosemite National Park. JOHN MUIR C. Gifford Pinchot
D. A president who set aside more land for conservation purposes than any other president, before or since. THEODORE ROOSEVELT D. Aldo Leopold
E. Exposed the dangers of pesticides and wrote a book called "Silent Spring" that became a bestseller and it helped launch the environmental movement of the 1970s. RACHEL CARSON E. Rachel Carson



Question
In temperate forests, ecological succession generally progresses from
Answer
grass to lake to bog to grass again grass to shrubs to forest fossil fuels to wind to solar panels to fuel cells seed to seedling to tree to rotting log


Question
Scientists estimate most (i.e. 50- 85%) of the Earth's photosynthetic activity is carried out by
Answer
trees coral reefs phytoplankton herbaceous plants tropical rain forests


Question
Given the following data and using the sustained yield equation, what is the maximum number of ducks you could harvest from this population? immigration =50, emigration =30, stock=100. births=10, deaths=20, harvest=?
Answer
A. 110 B. 220 C. 10 D. 50


Question
In the late 1800s, scientists realized that if we could not develop a process fix nitrogen, farmers could run out by the year 1900, resulting in widespread famine.
TRUE

Question
In the long run, the sustained yield harvest of renewable resources decreases the size of the stock.
FALSE


Question
Leasing shared plots of land to several ranchers proved be a better way of preventing overgrazing (and a tragedy of the commons) than allowing a rancher to lease a specific plot of land.
FALSE

Question
Most hardwoods in the US resist fire better than conifers.
TRUE


Question
One of the most effective things one can do to reduce one's carbon footprint is to reduce meat consumption or eat only meats that are grass-fed rather than grain-fed.
TRUE


Question
Rice provides about 30% of all the calories humans consume.
TRUE


Question
Wildlife and forest management activities often involve "setting back the ecological clock" by clearing vegetation to favor fast-growing pioneer species.
TRUE


Question
Roughly what percentage of the arable land on Earth is used for agriculture?
Answer
10% 50% 95% 100%


Question
Which of the following is a correct sequence for the nitrogen cycle?
Answer
fixation -> decomposition -> plant use -> animal use -> atmosphere decomposition -> atmosphere -> fixation -> plant use -> animal use plant use -> atmosphere -> decomposition -> fixation -> animal use


Question
Most of the land administered by the U.S. Forest Service is under "multiple-use management." Which of the following are included in the multiple-use philosophy?
Answer
timber harvesting water quality and quantify grazing hunting and fishing oil and gas development mining A, B, C, and D All of the above


Question
In which of the following forest scenarios are deer and elk typically more abundant?
Answer
old-growth forest climax stage of a forest fresh clear-cut (less than 2 months old) early succession stages of a forest


Question
A tree species that is managed on an even-aged basis is likely to be:
Answer
shade tolerant shade intolerant (sun-loving)


Question
In order to encourage quick regeneration, what harvest method is generally used for very shade INtolerant trees:
Answer
staged thinning selective harvesting reseeding and fertilization hand felling and horses clearcuts


Question
Of the following, raising ________ requires the most land and water.
Answer
beef cattle chickens pigs goats


Question
The size of the stock, or population__________________ enter the sustained yield equation.
Answer
Does Does not

Fill in the Blank:

Question
A healthy fish population in a lake is growing at a net rate of 5% of the total biomass per year. Total biomass is estimated at 7,000 pounds. What is the maximum number of pounds you can harvest?
Answer
350

Question
The energy in fossil fuels originated from ancient photosynthesis.
TRUE


Question
Two out of every three barrels of oil in the US are used for transportation.
TRUE

Question
The three basic types of fossil fuels include:
Answer
petroleum, oil, and gasoline kerosene, gasoline, and coal coal, oil, and natural gas coal, coal tar, and oil sand
Correct Feedback

Question
Which region has two-thirds of the proven reserves of petroleum?
Answer
Africa North America Russia Middle East China
Correct Feedback
Good work


Question
What three countries have the largest reserves of oil?
Answer
Russia, Afghanistan, Turkestan USA, Canada, Mexico Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq Nigeria, Angola, Gabon
Correct Feedback


Question
In which of the following biomes do the waterfowl in North America mostly breed? This area is known as the duck factory.
Answer
deciduous forest grasslands tundra desert
Correct Feedback
CORRECT. By far, the most ducks are produced in the grasslands biome, especially in the prairie provinces of Canada.



Question
If the number of fishing boats remains constant, but more fish are being caught, then the stock must be increasing.
FALSE


A brief description of how the assessment was developed:

The assessment was developed by Susan Todd, Assoc. Professor of Conservation Planning, Dept. of Resources Management, and a group of faculty. They discussed the things they most wanted the freshmen students to know, and developed the test.

Susan Todd is a leader in Sustainability in areas of Curriculum and Research. She led students efforts to develop the first draft Sustainability Plan for UAF in 2007. She annually incorporates sustainability focused projects within her classes. As early as 2000, she had her natural resources classes help facilitate the development of a strategic plan for invasive species management for the State of Alaska. Susan is one of the leaders in sustainability literacy for UAF students.


A brief description of how the assessment was administered:

The assessment is administered online as a pre- and post-test by Susan Todd, every semester in the NRM 101 course.

Professor Todd gives up to 100 points extra credit (there are about 2000 points in the class). This gives students some incentive to do well, but no penalty if they don't. It also gives students an idea of the types of questions that will be on the first test, so most are actually glad they did it.


A brief summary of results from the assessment:

There are usually a few students who score in the 70 percentile, but the average for the pre-test is usually about 35%. Some of the upperclassmen who are required to take the course and think that they "already know all this stuff" get a surprise when they do badly on this test.

During the post-test, there is major improvement. By the end of the class, the average is up to high 70s or low 80s. Professor Todd would like it to be even higher than that, but some of these things are counter-intuitive and it will take students more than one course to catch it.


The website URL where information about the literacy assessment is available:
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The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.