An Audit of Fine Arts

Difference Between Policy and Practice!


1.0 Abstract

2.0 Vision of Sustainability

3.0 The Problem

4.0 Background

5.0 Study Rational

6.0 Systems

7.0 Methodology

8.0 Results

9.0 Analysis

10.0 Conclusions

11.0 Recommendations

12.0 Works Sited



In recent decades, there has been a growing awareness of the state of our planets health. This awareness and/or concern has come from both the public and private sectors. Responding to this concern, the possibility of change may only occur, if we are forced to realize that the outcomes of our actions ultimately shape the environment in which we live. Regardless, we cannot compromise our worlds environment any longer. Almost every action an individual takes within the course of a day is completed with the aid or at the expense of our environment. --THINK -- you cannot even breathe without the help of nature. Why then, do we place the environment last in many of the decisions we make? In requirments of completing our environmental resource studies degree, at the University of Waterloo, we must take the course (ERS285) "Greening the Campus". In this course, groups are formed and are instructed to choose a system relating to the environment. Our group decided to look at the department of Fine Arts on campus, and how awareness of environmental practices differ from university policy. We felt that looking at this issue might help us learn about the environmental system at the university, and the extent of change that students could pose on such a topic.

(Brief development of Paint)



We must realize that human life is very tightly interwoven with nature. This is normally ignored as we tend to view nature as a commodity, a place of recreation, rather than as a life giving resource (Gibson, Orfald, p.1). Over the years we have become more aware of how our actions affect our environment. We must decrease our ecological footprint on our land. An Ecological Footprint is the land that would be required on this planet to support our current lifestyle forever (Gibson, Orfald, p.2). It is measured by regarding human consumption and the necessary land needed for that consumption. This measurement attempts to determine whether nature provides enough resources to secure everyone with adequate living conditions. This footprint can be used to measure the current consumption against future consumptions and point out shortfalls. In this way society as a whole can compare the choices we need to make in the near future about how we are decreasing our natural resources. Enormous amounts of waste are being produced every day. This affects hinterlands which are already began to suffer from drained energy and materials. The urban ecosystem exerts a severe impact on the physical/human environment.

Some major urban issues that have arisen include:

As stated above, a focus for concern is the management of water resources. Water scarcities due to over-consumption and water contamination have become a major crisis. There are many variables that determine appropriate water management. In many areas, a problem may not relate to the quantity of water alone, but also to the quality of water. Trace toxins, both organic and inorganic are, a great concern. These toxins are created by complex synthetic materials in industry and consumer products. These materials later come into contact with our water supplies. Additionally, concentrations of toxins, now detectable, may have been in water supplies for years. Detection ability is crucual for contamination removal (Roseland, p. 35). Participation in communities for solutions to contamination issues also aids the process of cleaning up. Inhabitants of the community is another issue that arises because individual health is dependent on the quality of the environment. In turn public participation must influence larger institutions. By showing decision makers that the long run costs of misused land, far outweigh the current benefits of comprimising the environment the problem could be solved. (Gibson, Orfald, p. 39)

Sustainability on campus requires the co-operation of everyone! Actions of individuals must not compromise the natural environment. This means activities must be carried out in a sustainable manner. Sustainability also means becoming more self-aware of your daily inputs and outputs. The environmental health of the place you work and live cannot be under-valued. The campus needs to function with a healthy system, and consider our environment first in any decision making process. For example: we need to process and handle our waste (solids, liquids, gas) in a proper manner. By accomplishing this, we could make the campus' environment (water, air, land) more attractive to everyone. Trying to attain sustainability is an on going process as change is continuous.

What would sustainability mean to a university? less stresses on the environment? a healthier human and natural environment? decreased opperating costs? less total waste? more biodegradable waste?

We realize the university system is not closed, and the actions carried out by certain actors affects the immediate community (Waterloo Municipality), therefore an external, larger, and more complex environment.

Education is a large component of creating a sustainable campus. The extent of education recieved by the students, directly affects their actions and attitudes. For example: a WHMIS type of course that deals with environmental practices should be made compulsory for all entering students. Therefore, the role of the faculty should be to ensure sustainabiliy is supported and proper educational practices are performed.

Only through changing the attitudes and actions of actors or decision-makers can the campus become a more sustainable environment!




Problem Statement:

Is there a problem in Fine Arts concerning practices of waste disposal or any issues concerning the level of environmental education towards the students?



Our area of concern is the Department of Fine Arts located in East Campus Hall (ECH). This building is located on the east border of the University of Waterloo campus.The actions of the students, and the level of environmental awareness of the department, will be the main focus of our study!

We will attempt to "Green" fine arts by investigating through survey and observation, both practices and policy to determine what changes can be made in the Fine Arts department.



The main objectives of our project is to compare the success or lack of:


Based on our findings we hope to:


Background Information


Background Information:

There have been no prior system studies of the Fine Arts department. This ERS 285 project will take a first look into how the system functions. However, there was one previously completed ERS 285 project that looked at a similar situation -- the project titled Chemical Disposal in UW science labs. This project has been used as a basis for studying the Fine Arts department.

The Chemical disposal project aided the development of our analysis, and gave us valuable information dealing with a system study of this nature.



The University Policy:

Places of employment are required under provincial and federal government quidelines to follow rules of safety and proper waste disposal under the OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT (OHSA).This act states:

Health and Safety, is the university department which is in charge of meeting any policy/act standards regarding environmental or waste practices. The University of Waterloo and the Health and Safety office has its set of criteria that all faculties must abide by . The policy posed by the university is to ensure that it does not recieve fines from the municipal government for improper functioning and waste disposal. These fines could reach up to $10,000 which consequently the school (therefore students) pay for. Policy 34 defines clearly the objectives of the university that lead to a safe and environmentaly suitable institution. This policy is the basis of our study, as it outlines the proper procedures of material handling, education, and disposal.

Under the Region Municipality of Waterloo Bill 1-90 a zero discharge policy has been placed on the university(absolutely no chemicals), and the safety office has set up a system by which this may be carried out. The Hazardous Materials Handling Facility services all university bodies in handling wastes. However, it is not the requirements of the safety office to ensure that the system is being followed. The department must set a pick-up time for any wastes. Rather it is the responsibility of the department/professor to ensure that the system is used. Looking at whether or not this disposal system is used or known about by Fine Arts, will be an important part of our study.



The main actors involved in our study were

Supporting actors included;




Why The Department of Fine Arts?

In the early stages of our study, it was necessary to familiarize our group with the area of study. As a responce to this, we took a self-guided tour through the Fine Arts department. We found evidence of improper material disposal and extensive use of toxic substances. For example; sinks with large quantities of paints in them, and such chemicals as nitric acid (used in the print shop). Refer to pictures of our tour .This encouraged us to proceed with our study.

picture1, picture2, picture3, picture4, picture5

Why the Actors?

There are wastes produced in the Fine Arts department such as; used paper, paints, plasters, print chemicals, and sculpture materials all of which are disposed of by the people within the building. Some of these materials are more damaging to the environment than others as they may contain toxins or hazardous by-products. The students and custodians, disposal and cleaning methods is a crucial component of the buildings waste system. The Faculty staff are another important component in this waste system. In targeting these groups for our study, it will help us to understand the functioning and issues surrounding the Fine Arts department.

Therefore, by altering the Fine Arts department, we hope to accelerate the progression of our campus towards sustainability. Upon conversing with some of the students and Faculty, we discovered that there were some problematic areas that could be addressed by our team in co-operation with the Department of Fine Arts. Such as: the wood shop, and textile labs. These problematic areas lead us to believe that there are certain areas where communication between the students and the faculty administration could be approved.

Why a Study?

Since there has been no specific environmental study on the Fine Arts department, we feel, this study could benefit the university itself and the people that frequent the facility. We hope conducting a study into the issues and practices of the Fine Arts will be adequate to achieving any benefits possible. Therefore, we questioned the students to try to establish a common understanding of these issues and practices. Ultimately we would like to pose some beneficial alternatives that will help to better the environment, actors, and the communication between these actors.



Systems Study:

All of the components of the Fine Arts department play significant roles our study.



looked at three systems;


Material Flow

This system considers the materials and the effect which they have on the environment. Theoretically, Waterloo's university services can handle material waste very well. Waste can be dealt with at all levels of the system, thus keeping the effect on the localized environment to a minimum. There are, however, two components to the system which can decrease its efficiency. These components are the atmosphere and hydrosphere. What goes into the air (atmosphere) or down the drains (hydrosphere) cannot be serviced by the university. Only regulation and perventitive control of the activities which produce these agents can be managed. It is control over these two components which is of importance to this project, and to the sustainability of the greater system.

(see Material Flow Diagram)


Information Flow

The information flow in the Fine Arts department is only part of the larger system of information which is passed to the University of Waterloo. The larger information system is complex, where any of the components at any time may interact with any other component. Two important system components are the Health and Safety office, and the municipality of Waterloo

Being physically separated from the rest of the university campus, there is a decreased amount of contact to other departments. The key information flow which we are interested in is department of fine arts. The information flow within this department takes place between the students, teaching assistants, professors, and faculty head. These relationships plays an important role with the issues. The diagram below explains the flow of information and the boundaries of each actors influence on one another.

(see Information Flow Diagram)


Actor Flow

The boundaries of the actor system define the extent of each actors responsibility. These boundaries also pertain to the levels of information flow and how policy works through the structure of the Fine Arts department. The Fine Arts system consists of approximatly 250 students, 4-5 teaching assistants, 8 professors including one as the faculty head. This type of structure is based on a hierarchical frame work, where only certain people may pose changes to the system. Students have contact as far as the faculty head. The faculty head can influnce higher members in the university by any decisions which are made by the collective council of all faculty (one member-one vote method), Any issues which involve any environmental issues are further reported to Health and Safety or UW's Joint Health and Safety Committee, who deals with the city municipality and their policies. It is at the level of the city municipality where the policy is formed and implimented.




Criteria and Evaluation:

The criteria to be used to evaluate the functioning of the Fine Arts department will be the degree of difference between policy and practise. We will look at attitudes and issues of students. The objective of our survey is listed below.


Therefore, measurement of this system was of the actions and attitudes of the students. The process of conducting the surveys can best be illustrated visually. (see survey flow diagram)


Data Collection:

The main source of data collection was through two different written surveys. By administering the surveys, we gained first hand information of these issues and practices which are taking place in the Fine Arts Department. Within each survey, space was allocated for respondents opinions, and suggestions for the improvement of Fine Arts. These results helped us to further assess the situation in the Fine Arts Department. The design attempted to accurately portray the issues and practices of the students.


Surveying the students took place from the week of March 3 to March 7. Approximately 150 surveys were distributed to students in Fine Art classes. We originally decided to survey the entire department instead of a sample, as our findings would be more accurate the larger the sample size. However, problems occurred which altered these plans (discussed later). Additionally, we decided to focus our study only on the students, as they are ultimately the waste producers. Surveys were distributed before and during classes. Classes for survey distribution were chosen from a course list. All fine arts classes were chosen to be surveyed except the art history class, as no waste is created from a lecture course. This would account for any bias between students enrolement year, and or course load. Students were asked not to complete a survey if they have done so already in another class. This accounted for the error of repetition. Surveys remaned anonymous to ensure honesty amoung respondents. Surveys took approximately 15-20 minutes to complete depending on the survey type.


Survey Design:

Survey researchers attempt to sample respondents (from a total population) who answer the same questions. They measure many variables, test multiple hypotheses, and infer temporal order from questions about past behaviour, experiences, or characteristics. Survey researchers measure variables that represent alternative explanations (i.e. control variables), then statistically examine their effects to rule out alternative explanations. They think of alternative explanations when planning a survey and measure the alternatives with control variables. A survey is a tool used to measure variables. Survey research is often called correlation because of the associations that can be inferred. Survey researchers use control variables and correlations in statistical analysis. They approximate the rigorous test for causality that experimenters achieve with their physical control over temporal order and alternative explanations (Neuman, 1997).

There are two main different types of survey questions, open and closed. Open ended questions are unstructured and provide the opportunity for free response. A closed ended question is structured and provides fixed responses which the respondent chooses. Each type of question has advantages and disadvantages.

Link to: (advantages and disadvantages)

We encountered most of these advantages and disadvantages throughout the process of interpreting the responses of the surveys we administered. This is because the survey format that we chose to use was a combination of both open and closed ended questions so that we could maximise the feedback that we got back from the students and faculty. The following are ten general rules to try to follow when contemplating a survey design. We tried to follow these rules when forming our own survey by trying to avoid:

In order to adhere to these rules we were required to submit our survey to the Ethics Committee of the Office of Human Research, where it was approved by Susan Sikes. As well, we approached Susan Wismer and James Kay of the Department of Environment and Resource Studies for their input and opinions about our survey. Response rates differ according to the survey type.

Student Survey and Rational for Questions,

Response rates for self-administered questionnaires are usually close to 100 percent and present little problem if survey administrators wait to collect completed surveys. Rates are high for face-to-face interviews (usually about 90%), as well as telephone interviews (about 80%). Response rates are a major concern for mail questionnaires. A response rate of 10 to 50 percent is common for a mail survey (Neuman, 1997). Our survey type can be considered the same as a mail questionnaire since we did not wait to collect the completed surveys, instead we had the students drop off completed surveys at a centralised location. As a result we received 62 completed surveys returned out of 150 distributed. Therefore, our response rate was 40%, which is much higher than the expected 10% response rate. We attempted to increase our response rate by revisiting the classes and encouraging students to submit a completed survey if they hadnít already, but this effort was to no avail.


Changes, Problems and Developments

We experienced a few problems during our survery period and changes were implemented accordingly. The original process involved dividing Fine arts classes among group members for survey distribution. Surveys were to be conducted at the begining of a particular class. Every professor and student in the class would be given a survey, and our team member(s) would collect the surveys after they were completed. This way, all the members of the Fine Arts department would be surveyed.


We decided to focus our data analysis and survey distribution on the students only, as they are the key sources of waste production and handling.


#1) Some class times were...


Therefore, ...

#2) Surveys took longer to administer than expected...

Understandably, professors did not want us to take up a large portion of their class time. To accommodate this, we handed out the surveys before class and instructed students to hand them into the Fine Arts office. A box was set up in the office and the secretary was asked to collect the surveys coming in from the students.

#3) We experienced a low return rate...

...approximately a 40% return rate on our surveys. With the changes in our design (total survey to responce) this was a very respectable number.

We also realize that sometimes sample populations do not accurately reflect the actual populations being studied. From approximately 250 students, we surveyed 150 and recieved 62, a response rate of 40%. Additionally, the respondents were not equal from each enrollment year. Therefore, it could be argued that our data is skewed.


The Process

The surveys were filed and coded for analysis and easy reference. The following were the steps taken:

Link to Code Book: Link



Resraints with graphical representation of our data set, have not allowed us to post the raw data itself. If the data is needed by any persons for study or just for viewing, it is avialable through:

James J. Kay



Compared to some of the data that we have viewed on the other homepages we noticed that our data seemed much more detailed and complicated. Due to the number of questions, and the allowance made for students to voice their comments, our data set became very large. We found it efficient to analyse data with these easy to read pie graphs;


It was not surprising for us to learn that the majority of the students that responded to our survey were enrolled in the faculty of Arts. This is due solely to the fact that these courses are required for fine arts students whereas they are elective for students in other faculties.What we did find from the comment responses in the surveys, was that the students that were enrolled in the Fine Arts program were less concerned about most of the factors that we think are important. Such as: waste disposal, cleaning techniques, environmentally friendlier products, and changes in curriculum. This is likely due to either; the students in the faculty have not been educated about the effects of the materials that they use, or, they have become too accustomed to their practices.

The following table was created from the percent of respondents which answered our WHMIS question;

The question asked respondents to check the box which best described their WHMIS training. The boxes were categorized as follows;

__A)Taken because it was required, __B)Taken it voluntarily, __C)Required but haven't yet taken it, __D)Not required, and haven't taken it, __E)Don't know what it is

As the above chart illustrates, WHMIS is mandatory for many of the courses in the Fine Arts Department. WHMIS should be required for any courses that use chemicals and or cleaning materials. Although most respondents (65%) declared that they had the training because it was required, it is important to note that 23% of the students responded that they were required to take WHMIS, but had not yet taken it (this late in the academic year!). There is a need to enforce an understanding of how important WHMIS is to chemical and waste use.


It is obvious that the majority of the students who responded are in first year. The survey responses decrease by an average of 10% per year. However, there may be two reasons for this.

#1) Response rate varried between enrollment years


#2) Sample populations between enrollment years varried.

Although the response rate varries between years we feel that the data is representative, because there are more students in lower years then upper enrollment years. Therefore, we will assume that our data is indicative of the actual populations of the department and our statistics can be accepted as accurate.


Since we had a response from at least one person in each of the classes offered in Fine Arts, we were able to determine which of these classes requested students to purchase a kit. We determined that almost 70% of the classes in the Fine Arts department have a kit associated with them. We have determined that if used responsibly, the kits provide too much material which is thrown out. Obviously, the Fine Arts department, has a large say in what types of materials that students use. It would therefore, be the responsibility of the said department to supply their students with environmentally friendly materials since they are literally forcing the students to buy them. Fine Art kits are an area which should be considered for change. Since so much waste materials are produced from these, added to the fact that, this is an area where the Fine Arts department has direct influence/control.

Waste Disposal Methods:

We interpreted this bar graph by looking at two extremes of our data. When looking at the "Always" column the second year students, followed closely by the first year students, are amoung the highest respondents for this category. The fourth year students, however, make up the smallest percent of the respondents but account for a large relative proportion of the "always" category. The "Never" column describes the number of respondents by year which never dipose of their materials in separate storage.The most frequently checked box in the "Never" column is accounted for by third year students. Also the third year students are amoung the highest group among all enrollment years who responded by checking the never box. This is an important finding because the third year students only make up 19% of the respondents, but yet dominate the "never" category.

Appropriate Handling:

This bar graph illustrates, by enrollment year, the number of students who store materials in seperate storage. The "Always" column has the second and third year students accounting for the highest amount of students who always store materials seperately. It is important to note that first year students do not even appear in the "always" category above. Additionally, the first year students account for the highest frequency of those who responded as "never" storing materials in seperate storage.



Overall, as we have implied in our results, few minor infractions have come to our attention with regards to policy and behavior.


So what is the difference between policy and practice?

We measured this difference qualitatively. The most important variable of this measurement was the University Policy 34. This policy outlines a "Zero Discharge" of materials which may cause harm to the environment. Therefore, we found:


Because of the clear "zero" tolerance policy, we found our data to be more then adequate to recommend changes. Less then 10% percent of respondents said they "never" dispose of materials down the drain. Therefore, 90% responded by answering ("sometimes", "often","always") they do pour materials down the drain.

Additionally, we found;

Be it either, air quality, waste production, recycling, space, air temperature, material composition, or negative cumulative health effects fine arts students expressed concerns in our surveys.

As outlined in Policy 34 these issues are unacceptable and should not be ignored.



Possible Studies on Material Flow and use of Labs

Material and Art Supply Study

Technical Analysis Assessment

Joint Health and Safety Committee

Implementation of Recycling Program

Increasing air quality and work conditions

Clear Student and Janitors responsibilities


Works Cited

Neuman, Lawrence (1997). Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches (Third Edition) A Viacom Company, Needham Heights, MA.

Last updated April 13, 1997

Please e-mail any concerns, suggestions, or responses to our team!