Natural Resources, School of


First Advisor

David Gosselin

Second Advisor

Mark Burbach

Third Advisor

Jenny Dauer

Date of this Version



Oetting, Anna, (2022). "A Mixed Methods Case Study: Effects of Instructors’ Beliefs on Incorporation of Sustainability Curriculum at a Midwestern University". Dissertations & Theses in Natural Resources. University of Nebraska-Lincoln


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College of the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Natural Resource Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professor David Gosselin. Lincoln, Nebraska : April, 2022

Copyright © 2022 Anna Oetting


The degree to which sustainability is taught is often varied and inconsistent across colleges, departments, and higher education institutions. However, educating students and future generations regarding the different pillars of sustainability, including economic, social, and environmental topics, is increasing in importance and urgency. A mixed methods case study utilized surveys and interviews to investigate why instructors incorporate sustainability, what impacts course incorporation of sustainability, and barriers that instructors face. This study found that instructors’ beliefs regarding the importance of sustainability relate to the extent to which sustainability is incorporated into their curriculum. Topics of sustainability incorporated into a class are not impacted by instructors' specific beliefs. Instead, the pillars of sustainability taught are determined by instructors’ industry and college. Instructors are more intrinsically versus extrinsically motivated to teach sustainability topics. They face a variety of external barriers that include a lack of resources, time, and opportunities. By investigating instructors’ beliefs related to teaching sustainability concepts and instructors’ backgrounds from a variety of disciplines, this research fills a void in the published literature and provides the following general recommendations for how to support faculty and university change that include: clarifying university expectations through signaling the importance of sustainability and improving the culture of sustainability.

Advisor: Dave Goesslin