Measuring Sustainability Literacy in Undergraduate and Graduate Engineering Students in a Colombian University Conference

Sanchez, SJ, Rueda, MJ, Robertson, DL. (2023). Measuring Sustainability Literacy in Undergraduate and Graduate Engineering Students in a Colombian University .

cited authors

  • Sanchez, SJ; Rueda, MJ; Robertson, DL


  • The role of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and engineering programs is crucial in the effort of creating sustainable awareness for building a prosperous and equitable society for all. Improving Sustainability Literacy (SL) worldwide contributes to both the advancement of Education for Sustainable Development and the progress of Sustainable Development Goals. Given the noteworthy contribution of both sustainability literacy and engineering programs in building a sustainable future for all, this paper aims to measure sustainability knowledge and to make comparisons among the educational levels of students enrolled in engineering programs such as undergraduate, master, and Ph.D. The sample is composed of 94 students from engineering programs at all levels of higher education: undergraduate, master, and doctoral engineering related programs in a university in Bogota, Colombia. The instrument used in this study is the Sustainability Literacy Test (Sulitest), a standardized assessment tool endorsed by the United Nations to measure the level of sustainability knowledge. The instrument has been administered through an online platform to measure the Sustainability Literacy knowledge of Engineering students in both undergraduate and graduate academic programs. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was applied to test the hypotheses and make comparisons. The results show statistically significant differences in sustainability knowledge scores between students from undergraduate and graduate levels. One major finding involved the effect of generation on sustainability literacy. The sample's undergraduates come from Generation Z, students who were born between 1993 and 2005, while the sample's graduate students (Ph.D. and Master) come from Generation Y, students who were born between 1977 and 1993. Generation Z has a significantly higher sustainability literacy compared to Generation Y. Within Generation Y (when generation is held constant), education level (Ph.D. or Masters) explains differences in sustainability literacy, with Ph.D. students having significantly higher SL knowledge scores than master's students. The findings provide significant insights to understand students' sustainability knowledge in higher education institutions and strengthen the design of future sustainable global engineering courses.

publication date

  • June 25, 2023