ASSESSING SUSTAINABILITY WITHIN DALHOUSIE RECRUITMENT MATERIALS
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Institutions and corporations are increasingly called upon to address environmental and social challenges (Bergeson, 2006). For many higher education institutions (HEIs) in North America, the effective marketing of sustainability initiatives present on campus has the potential to increase enrolment interest (The Princeton Review, 2015; Behrend et al., 2009). Some HEIs seek to advance their image as sustainability leaders through the pursuit of third party recognitions and/or certifications, such as the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) framework created by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) (Fonesca et al., 2011). The STARS framework analyzes a variety of campus sustainability performance dimensions, including Academics and Operations. This study explored the extent to which sustainability concepts are represented within the student recruitment materials for Dalhousie University. This study quantified the presence of content related to campus sustainability within two of Dalhousie’s recruitment materials, chosen using non-probabilistic sampling. The materials chosen were the Dalhousie Domestic Viewbook 2016 and the script portion of the 2015/2016 Studley Campus Tour Guide Manual. The materials were analyzed using a textural coding method, based upon a unique adaption of the framework for sustainability assessment provided by AASHE STARS. The codes were organized into four categories: Academics, Engagement, Operations, and Planning & Administration. Dalhousie University actively engages in the STARS certification process, providing relevance to the use of the STARS framework as a lens for this study’s explorations and recommendations. Data analysis revealed that a large portion of the items within the coding framework did not appear in the chosen recruitment materials (forty-seven percent of all items which were chosen for coding were not present). The category that surfaced most frequently within the research was Planning & Administration, consisting of thirty-five percent of all codes found, while the Engagement category surfaced the least, at nineteen percent of all codes found. Specific codes such as “Undergraduate Programs” repeatedly occurred (fifteen times), suggesting they were emphasized within the recruitment materials, while many other codes were not represented at all. Sustainability initiatives undertaken by Dalhousie’s Sustainability Office were also not represented. This study recommends that an active dialogue be established between the Dalhousie Recruitment Office and members of the Sustainability Office, in order to determine shared goals for marketing campus sustainability within recruitment materials. Furthermore, this study should be made available as a resource to facilitate the generation of more knowledge in regards to how Dalhousie conveys sustainability initiatives to future student recruits.