How children come to understand sustainable development

A contribution to educational agenda

Matija Svetina*, Andreja Istenič-Starčič, Matevž Juvančič, Tomaž Novljan, Maruška Šubic-Kovač, Špela Verovšek, Tadeja Zupančič

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    This study provides an interdisciplinary account determining how children and adolescents understand urban and architectural aspects of sustainable development. The concept of sustainability implies complex relations between ethical, economical, social, technical and other qualities of our environment. The concept is difficult to understand for children who lack the abilities of abstract reasoning and multi-dimensional thinking. A new measure of sustainability understanding was formed based on pictorial rather than textual format and was applied to a large sample of over 2000 participants aged 6-19years. The results indicated that girls had higher levels of appreciation toward sustainability issues than boys. The results also showed that understanding of sustainability issues increased progressively with age, particularly with adolescents from urban environments. The findings are discussed in terms of cognitive changes in adolescence and their implications for educational policy.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)260-269
    Number of pages10
    JournalSustainable Development
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013

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    Svetina, M., Istenič-Starčič, A., Juvančič, M., Novljan, T., Šubic-Kovač, M., Verovšek, Š., & Zupančič, T. (2013). How children come to understand sustainable development: A contribution to educational agenda. Sustainable Development, 21(4), 260-269.