The status of education for sustainable development and sustainability knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of UAE University students

Ali Khalfan Al-Naqbi, Qasim Alshannag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This study aims to investigate United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) students’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviors toward education for sustainable development (ESD) and the environment. Several independent variables (i.e. students’ gender, nationality, college, academic level and grade point average [GPA]) were also considered. Design/methodology/approach: This study was descriptive in nature, and the data were obtained using a cross-sectional survey. A total of 823 participants responded to an e-education for sustainable development survey. Several data analysis procedures were used, including descriptive analyses, analyses of variance and t-tests. Findings: The study revealed that the UAEU students showed a high level of understanding, very strong positive attitudes and moderate positive behavior toward ESD and the environment. Findings associated with students’ gender, nationality, college, academic level and GPA were also reported and discussed. Research limitations/implications: First, the participating students came from one public university. Although this university is a major university in the nation, further studies should include samples from other public and private institutions. Second, this study did not examine the correlation among the three main components: knowledge, attitude and behavior. Thus, similar to other previous studies, the correlations among these three components should be investigated. Third, this study used previous research findings in the areas of ESD, SD and environmental education (EE) because they all relate to each other and ESD is currently the active trend in the field. Originality value: No previous ESD studies have been conducted in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), although the country is working hard to support ESD and SD. Therefore, this study explored the current education levels with regard to SD and sustainability knowledge, attitudes and behavior of tertiary students in the UAE. In addition, previous studies have clearly recommended investigating the status of EE and ESD in younger generations, especially those with higher education levels, because they are the agents of change, and they will be affected by the environmental problems that are being created by present human activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)566-588
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 23 2018


  • Education for sustainable development
  • Environment education
  • Sustainable development
  • UAE
  • United Arab Emirates University

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Education


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