Spring 2018

The dozen knowledge questions included in the survey are being used as a diagnostic tool to help us learn about students’ exposure to and understanding of selected sustainability concepts and factual information. You may have encountered some of the concepts and information in courses or extracurricular activities, while some may be new to you. Reponses from you and other students will help us to identify and fill in gaps in our programs.

Correct answers are indicated in bold text below and links to additional information are provided. We encourage you to follow the links to learn more.

1. The United Nations definition of sustainable development calls for:

  1. Maintaining current incomes and quality of life forever.
  2. Increasing consumption at a constant rate.
  3. Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
  4. Setting aside resources for preservation, never to be used.

Info: U.N. Sustainable Development Agenda & U.N. Sustainable Development Goals


2. A systems-thinking approach to understanding sustainability problems emphasizes:

  1. Examining interactions and feedback loops within and between systems.
  2. Using information systematically to evaluate problems and potential solutions.
  3. Using mathematical computer models to simulate the behavior of systems.
  4. Identifying components of a system and examining how each component functions in isolation.

Info: Academy for Systems Change, Systems Thinking Resources


3. Many economists argue that electricity prices in the U.S. are too low because:

  1. The prices do not reflect costs of pollution from generating electricity.
  2. Profits of electric utilities are too low.
  3. Higher electricity prices would stimulate economic growth.
  4. Low electricity prices make the U.S. less competitive in international markets.

Info: Energy Education, University of Calgary, Negative Externalities


4. How has the percentage of the world's population living in extreme poverty, defined as living on $1.90 or less per day, changed in the last 30 years?

  1. Increased substantially
  2. Increased slightly
  3. Decreased slightly
  4. Decreased substantially

Info: Our World in Data, World Population Living in Extreme Poverty


5. How has the gap in incomes between the richest and poorest households in the United States changed over the last 30 years?

  1. Increased
  2. Decreased
  3. Neither increased or decreased.
  4. Changed volatilely from year to year.

Info: Inequality.org, Institute for Policy Studies, Income Inequality in the United States and the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, A Guide to Statistics on Historical Trends in Income Inequality


6. How has air quality changed on average in the United States since 1990?

  1. Improved substantially
  2. Remained stable
  3. Degraded slightly
  4. Degraded substantially

Info: USEPA, Our Nation’s Air


7. What does the precautionary principle call for when an activity has the potential to cause unacceptable harm, but the harm is uncertain?

  1. Proceed but notify people who may be harmed.
  2. Proceed but purchase insurance that would pay potential victims.
  3. Take actions to avoid or reduce the potential harm.
  4. Prohibit the activity.

Info: UNESCO, Precautionary Principle and European Commission, The precautionary principle: decision-making under uncertainty


8. A life-cycle analysis of a product assesses the:

  1. Accumulation of toxins from the product in at risk species at different life stages.
  2. Environmental impacts of the production, transport, use and disposal of the product.
  3. Probability that the product will harm human life.
  4. Time it takes for the product to decompose.

Info: The Environmental Literacy Council, Life Cycle Analysis


9. Stormwater runoff from Dickinson’s campus can carry pollutants into which water bodies as water flows through the watershed?

  1. Letort Spring Run, Conodoguinet Creek, Delaware River and Delaware Bay.
  2. Letort Spring Run, Conodoguinet Creek, Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay.
  3. Yellow Breeches Creek, Conodoguinet Creek, Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico.
  4. Yellow Breeches Creek, Conodoguinet Creek, Ohio River and the Great Lakes.

Info: the Letort Regional Authority and the Conodoguinet Creek Watershed Association


10. How have the costs of electricity generated with renewable solar energy changed in recent years?

  1. Increased substantially
  2. Increased slightly
  3. Decreased slightly
  4. Decreased substantially

Info: Green Tech Media, DOE Officially Marks SunShot’s $1 per Watt Goal, National Renewable Energy Lab, US Solar Photovoltaic System Cost Benchmark, and National Renewable Energy Lab, Utility-Scale Solar PV System Cost Fell Nearly 30% Last Year


11. The greenhouse effect warms the Earth's climate because greenhouse gases:

  1. Cause chemical reactions in the atmosphere that generate heat.
  2. Absorb heat that is radiated from the Earth’s surface.
  3. Absorb visible solar radiation from the Sun.
  4. Reflect visible solar radiation from the Sun.

Info: UCAR, Center for Science Education, The Greenhouse Effect and NASA, Vital Signs of the Planet, A Blanket Around the Earth


12. If warming of the Earth’s climate is to be held below 2oC, the world’s annual emissions of carbon dioxide must be:

  1. Limited to grow by only a very small percentage each year through 2100.
  2. Held constant at the present level through 2100.
  3. Reduced 20 percent from the present level by 2100.
  4. Reduced 80 percent or more from the present level by 2100.

Info: Climate Action Tracker, Effect of current pledges and policies on global temperature