Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Graduate School

Major Professor

Heather N. Rothrock, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kimberly B. Hansen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joseph W. Dorsey, Ph.D.


SDGs, Sustainability, Sustainability commitment, Sustainability policy


Sustainability and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are not new notions for higher education institutions (HEIs). However, well-organized efforts to make campuses "sustainable" are not common, and the efforts are modest compared to the institutional capabilities. This thesis, a case study of the University of South Florida (USF), was designed to explore how sustainability values and SDGs are incorporated into higher education policies. To accomplish this, the study employed a mixed method design that includes a literature review, an overview of policies and implementations, document content analysis, a program and course inventory, a keyword analysis, and semi-structured interviews. The findings of the study revealed a need for more administrative support for the integration of sustainability values and the SDGs at the USF. This could include measures such as a broader sustainability policy and a ban on single-use plastics. The findings also indicated a lack of coordination in implementing sustainability and the SDGs across the university. This could include strengthening the staffing capacity of the Office of Sustainability (OS) and establishing a presidential advisory committee on sustainability and the SDGs. Furthermore, the study concluded that awareness of sustainability and SDGs should be raised through more effective inclusion of sustainability and SDGs in curriculum activities, as well as the publication of annual SDG reports.