This study explores sustainability education in textile and apparel (T&A) programs in U.S. higher education institutions. Specifically, the researchers study whether more courses with sustainability focus are offered in higher-ranked institutions and explore whether sustainability is taught more in specific T&A related subject fields. Content analysis was conducted for 3,200 courses found in online course catalogs or the course information sites of 69 institutions. Institutions were selected from the 2015 rankings of the top 50 fashion design and top 50 fashion merchandising schools in the US on www.fashion-schools.org. All cases were coded by two coders with a Cohen’s Kappa score of 97.5%, indicating good interrater reliability. Coded data were analyzed through descriptive statistics, correlation analysis, and t-tests. The findings show that sustainability is being integrated into the curricula and across courses of T&A programs in the U.S. Over half of the institution surveyed offered at least one sustainability embedded course. Higher ranked institutions provided more sustainability-related courses than power-ranked institutions. A natural match between the subject field and specific sustainability theme was observed (e.g., cultural diversity in history/culture and social psychology/education; recycle/reuse in textile science; sustainability in fashion design; social responsibility and ethics in industry/consumer). The need to introduce sustainability in courses holistically is discussed, whereby sustainability within the industry supply chain is examined in a connected way.


sustainability, education, curriculum, textile, apparel