Based on the UK Beyond Grey Pinstripes survey, we evaluated university programs in the following three areas during the 2009-2010 school year:
Part 1 - Institutional Support
Part 2 - Student-led Initiatives
Part 3 - Course work
For Actuarial Science programs, we judged all the available programs in Canadian universities. Business schools were evaluated on both and undergraduate and graduate level. However, we only looked at Master of Business Administration degrees, and not specialty programs such as Executive Master of Business Administration or International Master of Business Administration. The Engineering programs we studied were undergraduate programs accredited by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board.
We offered representatives of the schools being evaluated a chance to complete the surveys. If a contact decided to fill out the survey his or herself, we fact-checked the responses using web resources. Schools that did not fill out the surveys were still evaluated using information available online.
For Institutional Support, we focused on faculty participation and promotion of sustainability initiatives. Institutional support was program specific. We only considered events, scholarships, and research that were housed within the department. The "Other" question acted as a net for all the sustainable faculty activities that didn’t fit into any of the other questions.
We included any groups, clubs, or initiatives led by students. In order to be considered for our survey, the student group had to be supported mainly by students within the program.
We awarded 1 point for each student group and a separate point for each student initiative within that group. For example, a school with a Women in Leadership group was awarded 1 point. If the group invited a guest speaker to talk about Environmental Economics and organized a green campus committee, the school would be awarded 3 points. We did not think it would be fair to award the same amount of points for a campus group that was inactive as one that had a number of initiatives.
We did not give points for groups such as Commerce Students Association solely for the presence of the society, but we did look at the individual associations’ activities and awarded points for sustainability measures.
Based on program/degree requirements, we evaluated core and elective courses. For business, we separated core and electives into four different questions: core – entirely dedicated, electives – entirely dedicated, core – partially dedicated, and electives – partially dedicated. For engineering and actuarial science, we simply evaluated core and elective courses separately.
In order for a course to be considered entirely dedicated, the sustainability focus had to be self-evident in the course and title description.
For example a course entitled “Canadian Politics – a study of provincial, federal, and municipal government and their affect on Aboriginal autonomy” would be considered partially dedicated.
In order for a course to be considered “core,” it had to be available to all streams of the program. For example, a mandatory course in the Sustainable Business Stream that was not mandatory for students in the Marketing or Business and Health stream would not be counted. If a student was given the option between three mandatory courses, we only awarded 1 point if all of the possible choices had a sustainability focus.
If, for example, an engineering program did not have any electives, we did not penalize the school for having rigid degree requirements. Instead, we allotted them points based on their scores for core courses e.g. if the school scored 2 points for core – entirely dedicated courses, it would also score 2 points for electives – entirely dedicated.
For schools that did not answer the surveys and did not offer complete electives listings online, we awarded points on the basis of the information given. If a school suggested courses may be taken in a number of different departments and then listed them, 1 point was awarded for each department listed that had a sustainability focus e.g. if electives may be taken in English, History, Politics, Women’s Studies, and Environmental Studies, two points would be given, 1 for Environmental Studies and 1 for Women’s Studies. However, if the course calendar stated that any courses outside the faculty would be considered as electives, we awarded no points.
In the joint degree portion of Part 3, available minors had to be explicitly stated. If a degree asked for a Major in Business Administration, theoretically, a student could take any minor with or without a sustainability focus. Therefore, no points would be given. However, if the program information stated that a Business Administration Major and an Environmental Studies minor was possible, than a point would be granted.