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Sustainability 2016, 8(6), 510; doi:10.3390/su8060510

Learning about Sustainability—What Influences Students’ Self-Perceived Sustainability Actions after Undergraduate Education?

1
Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, University of Gävle, Gävle 80176, Sweden
2
Faculty of Education and Business, University of Gävle, Gävle 80176, Sweden
3
SYKLI, Environmental School of Finland, Helsinki 00700, Finland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Vincenzo Torretta
Received: 25 April 2016 / Revised: 19 May 2016 / Accepted: 20 May 2016 / Published: 27 May 2016
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [523 KB, uploaded 27 May 2016]   |  

Abstract

Changing societies’ minds about sustainability requires knowledge about the situation, awareness of what needs to be done and actions to change today’s unsustainable behaviors. Universities are challenged to develop students’ ability to appreciate the complexities of sustainability and translate sustainability knowledge of education into systemic, anticipatory and critical thinking and actions. To meet this challenge, universities provide specific study programs and courses and integrate sustainability in education and activities. There is limited research on the results of such efforts from a student perspective. The study focused on an identical cohort of 108 undergraduate students who answered a survey about their self-perceived knowledge, awareness and actions before and after their studies in a Swedish university. All 108 students had sustainability integrated into their study programs; forty-eight also attended specific sustainability courses. The test model explains variations in students’ self-perceived sustainability actions at the end of their studies. There were differences already in students’ initial self-perceived knowledge between the groups. The students’ female gender, self-perceived initial actions, studying sustainability courses as well as the increase in self-perceived sustainability knowledge contribute significantly to the later sustainability actions. The results show student development, which can encourage those working with education for sustainable development in universities. View Full-Text
Keywords: awareness; ESD; gender; higher education; integration; longitudinal study; knowledge awareness; ESD; gender; higher education; integration; longitudinal study; knowledge
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Sammalisto, K.; Sundström, A.; von Haartman, R.; Holm, T.; Yao, Z. Learning about Sustainability—What Influences Students’ Self-Perceived Sustainability Actions after Undergraduate Education? Sustainability 2016, 8, 510.

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