What Values Shape Sustainability Behavior in Institutes of Higher Education?

University students’ behaviors pertaining to sustainability: A structural equation model with sustainability-related attributes

Elvan Sahin, Hamide Ertepinar, and Gaye Teksoz in International Journal of Environmental & Science Education


The worldwide action plan, Agenda 21 was accepted in 1992 as a method to promote sustainable development through education. To promote sustainability, an individual should have certain knowledge, skills and attributes for living and working in a sustainable manner, where these behavioral factors are shaped through ‘values’, ‘attitudes’, and ‘behaviors’. The authors look at these socio-psychological behavioral factors among students in the Middle East Technical University, Turkey. The article gives more depth in understanding these three terms. In summary, ‘values’ are a conceptualized sense of what is essentially important, good or valuable to individuals. ‘Attitudes’ are manners of acting, feeling, or thinking that show one’s disposition or opinion. ‘Values’ are the cognitive element, ‘attitudes’ are the feeling element, and ‘actions/decisions’ are the behavior element. The resulting model that the authors found is as follows:

The authors spend a couple of pages describing the numbers and data and would prove useful should you have a general understanding of statistics. Their conclusion lays out the data in a more assessable manner. Pertaining to ‘values’ and ‘attitudes’, they find that their data coincides with previous literature reviews, where students with ‘environmental’ values and attitudes are likely to display sustainable behavior. Interestingly, they highlight that gender is a strong variable in shaping student’s behavior towards sustainability. The authors note that there educational material regarding sustainability across the world tend to display gender neutrality. Thus the authors pose is whether “gender inequality may result in unsustainable trends in higher education sector and gender mainstreaming should be considered.”

Looking at this study, might students on our own campus display such similarities?

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