Publication Date

Summer 2015

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Leslie North (Director), Jeanine Huss, Peggy Gripshover

Degree Program

Department of Geography and Geology

Degree Type

Master of Science


Campus sustainability tours are available at dozens of colleges and universities across the United States. These tours are considered a vital tool in interpreting the environmental and sustainable aspects of a campus to educate the campus community. Minimal quantitative data have been collected regarding their development, use, and effectiveness. In order to develop a dataset regarding the use of campus sustainability tours, surveys and interviews were sent to universities with such tours to discuss use and methods of development. A campus-wide electronic survey was sent to the Western Kentucky University (WKU) main campus community to determine their experiences with the WKU Green Tour. Pre- and post-tests were distributed to students at WKU before and after their experience with the tour to establish whether learning occurred. Professors were surveyed to determine the current use of the tours within classrooms. Best practices regarding the development of campus sustainability tours are not available. There is virtually no quantitative information available on the tours’ use and effectiveness. The WKU Green Tour, which relies upon campus signage to gain attention, sees little use since the signs tend not to capture attention. According to collected data, members of the campus community who do notice the signs find them interesting and learn new information. The guided tour, self-guided tour, and Green Tour lecture all saw significant knowledge gain in students, demonstrating educational effectiveness. Many barriers prevent professors from using the tours, but some supplemental tour items are suggested to improve classroom use. Based on data collected and analyzed as part of this study, tour developers should target the existing campus community rather than focusing solely on campus visitors. Relying on passive signage to capture attention reaches few members of the campus community. The significant knowledge gain demonstrated in classroom use of the Green Tour creates a strong argument for targeting professors as a user group. WKU faculty would likely increase their use of the Green Tour if provided with supplemental tools such as brochures, a virtual tour, and pre-made assignments. These tools should be made available to instructors with guidance in usage and incorporation.


Environmental Education | Geography | Sustainability