Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




College of Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Anthony Setari

Second Advisor

Pamela Martin

Third Advisor

Elif Gokbel


The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) has been working decades towards reaching Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to create peace and prosperity for people and the planet. The 2030 Agenda was created as an urgent call to action, a global partnership, and a comprehensive plan to work towards the 17 SDGs. For this study, the focus is on Goal 4- quality education and the impact of leadership on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Leadership on ESD has been a more recent topic and under researched. By making advancements in leadership on ESD there will be positive global impacts on the urgent need to achieve all 17 goals by 2030. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have been implementing ESD programs in effort towards achieving SDG goals. The purpose of this mixed methods integrated analysis is to evaluate the leadership development of 40 higher education students across four different ESD programs at Coastal Carolina University. Leadership development is investigated through multiple measures, involving a critical analysis of formal and informal learning experiences. The case study evaluation is significant and demonstrates overall growth in leadership as a result of participating in the sustainability programs. In addition, the findings provide a holistic view of the growth that occurred throughout the semester. By understanding that both leadership and learning is transformational, we can further our research and better understand the impact of leadership on ESD, which is necessary to create a more sustainable future.