This thesis focuses on identifying psychological factors related to personality features which can influence sustainable behavior of individuals in higher educational institutions (HEI), as well as to present the areas where these individuals work, and in which higher education for sustainability is fostered. It presents a proposal of a socio-psychological model which examines behavior for sustainability of individuals in HEI. The model aims to offer an alternative to the theory of social dilemmas, which is often proposed to explain unsustainable behavior. This model focuses on values and moral norms grounded within individuals, rather than on rational choice and self-interest. Key variables are universal values, awareness of consequences, ascription of responsibility, and personal intelligences. The results show that not all of these key variables can be proven to be significant. However, ascription of responsibility, universal values, and personal intelligences seem to be the main factors explaining sustainable behavior. These four variables are highly correlated, but the model is still in an exploratory stage because number of participants at two HEI. This model is promising because it shows an increase in behavioral variance. Participants display simple traits rather than more complex traits under a given context. Anticipation seems the behavior most unlikely to be shown by students, faculty members, and administrators; effectiveness seems the dimension most likely to be shown in universities in countries with a lower socio-economic level and austerity seems the most likely for universities with a higher socioeconomic level. This study considers two areas of human intervention for changing behavior in the long run without coercion: education and community management. It also proposes four methods as alternative forms of learning and ways of strengthening group change –play, art, group therapy, and personnel management.

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W.A. Hafkamp (Wim)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Department of Public Administration

Juárez Nájera, M. (2010, May 7). Sustainability in Higher Education: An explorative approach on sustainable behavior in two universities. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from