After the emergence of the concept of sustainable development and the realization that human exploitation is the main cause for environmental degradation, calls for a more educated public has been issued and the concepts of sustainability literacy and education for sustainable development were born. The purpose of this study is to assess the sustainability literacy of higher education Egyptian students currently enrolled in the American University in Cairo and find out the factors affecting their scores. The Sustainability Literacy Test developed by “The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative” was used to measure the sustainability literacy of students from four different schools at the University. It is divided into 11 modules with each tackling an issue under the umbrella of sustainable development. To find out the factors affecting the test’s scores, an accompanying questionnaire and interviews were conducted to get the feedback of both students and faculty respectively. Additionally, the effectiveness of one course that tackles sustainable development was measured by administering the sustainability literacy test pre and post the course and comparing between the results. The results show that the students have a low level of sustainability literacy in comparison to global results. Weak patterns were identified and students scored lowest at questions addressing environmental issues followed by social trends and human rights. They showed a significantly better understanding of the economic trends. According to the results of the questionnaire and the professors’ interviews, the two main factors behind higher scores are interest level and education. Students from majors in relation to sustainable development showed a better understanding of it than others who had no contact with it. The review of literature and the results suggest a reorientation of existing curricula to include sustainable development and using more innovative learning techniques are ways to improve sustainability literacy.

Degree Name

MS in Sustainable Development

Graduation Date


Submission Date

May 2015

First Advisor

Awni, Ali

Committee Member 1

Ramzy, Omar

Committee Member 2

Zaki, Hassan


148 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

American University in Cairo.

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

Sustainability -- Egypt -- Cairo.


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