Graduate Program


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion

Fall 2023

Thesis Director

Nichole Hugo

Thesis Committee Member

Ryan C. Hendrickson

Thesis Committee Member

Ryan P. Burge

Thesis Committee Member

Christopher R. Laingen

Thesis Committee Member

Katherine A. Shaw


The concept of sustainable development gained prominence with the publication of the Brundtland Report, which emphasized economic progress without jeopardizing future generations' well-being. Following that, the Education for Sustainability (EfS) program was created by the United Nations to raise sustainability awareness. However, the transition to sustainable living is fraught with difficulties, including a lack of knowledge, financial constraints, infrastructure gaps, and political ideologies. This study focuses on sustainable practices among Eastern Illinois University (EIU) students and faculty, as well as the barriers to daily sustainable behaviors. As independent variables influencing sustainable practices, the study evaluates sustainability knowledge/awareness, personal financial situation, university infrastructure, and political orientation. Data were collected using surveys, which were then analyzed using regression analyses. The findings revealed that familiarity with the concepts of sustainability and global warming, as well as financial security, correlated with more sustainable behaviors. However, because the mean scores were not statistically significant, the observed relationships could be due to chance. It was discovered that infrastructure convenience has a significant relationship with sustainable practices. Political affiliation had no discernible relationship with long-term behavior. The small sample size from a single university and subjective interpretations of sustainability-related questions were among the study's limitations. To improve future research, a larger and more diverse sample from multiple universities, using mixed methods and stratified sampling, should be considered. The findings add to the literature on higher education sustainability and offer recommendations for overcoming identified barriers. Understanding faculty and student knowledge and attitudes is critical for creating a sustainable future, as higher education institutions play an important role in shaping future leaders.