Date of Award
Master of Science
The incorporation of sustainability education and sustainable practices in higher education serves several purposes. It prepares students for work in sustainability-focused professions, fosters environmentally responsible behavior in individuals, and helps to reduce the ecological impacts of the operational aspects of educational institutions. However, contemporary definitions of sustainability, which consider social, political, ecological, and economic influences on the environment, complicate educational initiatives. Distinct educational departments often consider sustainability through their specialized lens. Trans-disciplinary initiative must be enacted in order for sustainability education to reach its full potential. This paper outlines the results of an electronically administered faculty sustainability curriculum inventory as well as an electronically administered university-wide sustainability literacy survey that were conducted at Southern Illinois University. The relationship between individual values and perceived importance and knowledge of sustainability components are examined within the context of the Value-Belief-Norm theory. While response rates for both surveys were relatively low, the faculty curriculum inventory survey was useful in identifying faculty members with an interest in sustainability education. These individuals could potentially work to spearhead curricular initiatives across the university. The survey also provided information that was used to create a sustainability course database and profiles of faculty members with an interest in sustainability education. Results for the literacy survey indicate that respondents' perceived importance of sustainability components exceeded their knowledge of those components in every case. Respondents rated components grouped under both energy systems and individual integrity as very important or extremely important to a sustainable university community. However, all components were rated at or above relatively important. Ecocentric, altruistic, and traditional individual values served as reliable predictors of respondents' perceived importance of sustainability components. These results should encourage further research of the motivations for sustainability incorporation on a campus community when considered within the framework of behavioral models such as the Value-Belief -Norm Theory or the Theory of Planned Behavior.
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