Sustainability education at higher education institutions: pedagogies and students’ competences

Yijing Wang*, Mélodine Sommier, Ana Vasques

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: This study aims to examine whether the development of students’ sustainability competences is dependent on how courses are delivered at higher education institutions (HEIs). It further investigates to what extent such competences can affect students’ belief in the new environmental paradigm (NEP) and pro-environmental behaviors (PEBs). Design/methodology/approach: The data was collected through an online survey conducted in 2021 among the students of an international research university based in The Netherlands. The final sample (N = 262) consisted of all the students who completed the survey and claimed that they had taken at least one course that addressed sustainability. Linear regression models were used to examine the relationship of sustainability education and students’ competences, as well as their pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors. Findings: The findings reveal that the strength of universal, broadly applicable pedagogies is positively related to the development of students’ sustainability mindset/framework as well as their sustainability action/communication. The results also reveal that developing students’ competences on sustainability mindset/framework is directly related to their belief in the NEP and PEBs. Originality/value: To develop an integrative pedagogical approach requires understanding how a HEI’s engagement in sustainability can impact students’ attitudes and behaviors, but little research has actually measured the development of students’ competences. This study fills this gap through empirically testing how different pedagogical approaches can affect students’ sustainability competences differently. This has important implications for systematically linking pedagogical approaches to teaching practices or concrete learning objectives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-193
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2022

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, Yijing Wang, Mélodine Sommier and Ana Vasques.

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