Struggles and Successes of Transformative Learning for the SDGs (2023)

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Environment, Development and Sustainability

Education for sustainable development: a critical reflexive discourse on a transformative learning activity for business students

Dario Cottafava

This paper presents in detail a critical reflexive discourse on a transformative learning activity that engaged 140 students of the “Risk Management and Green Business Strategy” module at the University of Turin. During the course, students were asked to find, analyze, and propose a solution for a self-identified challenge working in close partnership with local urban companies on sustainability issues. Following a project-based learning approach, this paper compares two different group of students. The treatment group, i.e., the students following the ESD module, was then compared with a control group represented by the students from the traditional course of the previous year, in terms of their willingness to orient their future career on sustainability topics. Findings point out clear impacts on the study of sustainability-related disciplines (i.e., + 372% of thesis on sustainability) and on long-term career orientation of students on sustainability-oriented master and jobs.

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Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal

Education of sustainable development goals through students’ active engagement: A transformative learning experience

2019 •

Dario Cottafava

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to discuss and present new teaching techniques to advance the concept and the practice of education for sustainable development (SD). Due to the recently introduced 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and owing their interlinkages and targets, an evolution of the traditional teaching techniques is needed. Design/methodology/approach – With the use of a single revelatory case study, this paper presents an example of education for SD goals activity carried out at the University of Torino, focussed on merging SD with the active engagement of students. Findings – The empowerment of students happens through a transformative learning experience grounded in the acquisition of managerial soft skills useful in co-creating and co-designing projects to contribute towards SDGs effectively. Practical implications – The ultimate goal is to support students to become active citizens in their communities (e.g. starting within the University). Social implications – Students learnt about SDGs and the complexities of sustainability, and, at the same time, they learnt valuable tools to contribute to their transformation to develop projects for the benefit of local territories and organizations. Originality/value – The paper showcases how transformative learning could be applied to SDGs. Awarded as one of the best practices regarding SD by the Italian Network of Universities for Sustainable Development, the case involves students in a transdisciplinary, creative and open learning environment.

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2020 •

Marco Rieckmann, Lukas Scherak, Katarzyna Gruszka, Rosário Anjos, Edna Cabecinha, Marisa Nunes

The project “SDGs Labs - Making the SDGs our business” is carried out by eight European partners from four countries (Austria, Germany, Italy and Portugal), involving Higher Education Institutions, businesses as well as other actors from the field. It aims at the integration of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into business practices of the agribusiness and food production sector. In order to reach this, the project “SDGs Labs” seeks to translate the SDGs into day-today business practices, by employing co-learning and co-creation. Ideally, the SDGs can provide business opportunities and support innovation in the sector. The project is carried out against the background of increasing sustainability challenges of the agribusiness and food production sector and the high importance and potential of this sector for contributing to the SDGs. This report outlines the work of work package three (WP3) and its results, focussing on the search for and review of methods and tools supporting the SDGs, as well as their assessment with regard to the applicability in the context of this project and the planned educational formats (‘labs’ and ‘academy’).

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Redefining higher education for sustainability. Strategies, barriers and practices.

Capineri Cristina

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), in the form of higher education (HE), plays a pivotal role both in the achievement of sustainable development goals and in the implementation of Agenda 2030 (UNESCO, 2012, 2014). Academia has always been the cradle of innovation, theoretical debates and practical experimentation. However, its mission is also to discern truth, impart knowledge, skills and values and prepare responsible citizens and competent workers who will contribute to an improving world. Recently, colleges, universities and networks of different kinds (e.g. SDSN, IAU, WEEC, etc.) have developed educational initiatives which represent a wealth of sources of innovation in sustainability. The paper aims to identify methodologies, tools and learning processes in order to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the ongoing initiatives taken into consideration. The paper highlights evidence, practices and policies by investigating recent literature on the topic (literature review and state of the art) and subjects and methods used in HE sustainability education in face-to-face traditional classroom environment (trends in HE sustainability education) and in an open online environment, namely MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses). The outcomes of the paper will contribute to the suggestion of future scenarios for the improvement of sustainability in HE and for the educational transformation that is required in order to create a sustainable future.

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Implementation of SDGs in University Teaching: A Course for Professional Development of Teachers in Education for Sustainability for a Transformative Action

The University Jaume I of Castellon (Spain) launched the “ImpSDGup” course in 2017. The aim of this training course on professional education for sustainable development (ESD) skills and competences for higher education teachers is to help academics in reorienting their subjects’ curricula in order to contribute to the sustainable development goals of the United Nations’ Agenda 2030. The “ImpSDGup” course is based on the Training Model in Transformative Action for Sustainability (TMTAS) model that is structured in three main areas: the content on sustainability, the theoretical approaches, and the ESD teaching and learning methodologies. In this paper, we describe the design and the contents of the training course and we investigate the changes that participants of the course implemented in the design of their subject programs. The methodology of the study was based on content analysis. The main results show that most of the 55 university teachers that undertook the course in its th...

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Curriculum and Learning for Climate Action

2021 •

Radhika Iyengar

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How to integrate sustainability teaching and learning in Higher Education Institutions? From context to action for transformation towards SDGs implementation: a literature review

2020 •


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Easy Open Data From Open Data to Sustainability: opportunity and risk for a public organization

2018 •

Dario Cottafava

This work has been developed in collaboration with UniToGO, the UniTo Green Office, the new sustainability hub of the University of Turin. The aim of this research work is to provide basic knowledge on Sustainability, as well as knowledge on Open Data and Social Network Analysis, on one side, and to provide some results correlated to the GreenMetric World Ranking, the SDGs and the GRI. Finally, some innovative non-formal educational methodologies will be described.

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ISCN and Gulf Universities best Practices report for the World Economic Forum 2018

Linking Education for Sustainable Development with Open Innovation

2018 •

Dario Cottafava

We aim to present a new approach to link Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) principles with an Open Innovation process.

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Futures of Education, Culture and Nature - Learning to Become

Learners Learning to Become

Thomas Østergaard

This article describes an entrepreneurial, transdisciplinary and transformative ESD competencies-course for educators at VIA University College, Denmark, the; "Circular Economy and Sustainable Development in the Education" course (CESDE) from 2018-2021, involving more than 100 educators from a wide variety of faculties. It analyses to what extent the effects on transformative changes towards a sustainable university have been and how these experiences with "learning the learners to become" can be implemented at other Higher Educations. (HE’s). The presentation analyses three levels of impact of the competencies course; (1) impacts on the individual educator’s approach to teaching practices; (2) impacts on the values in managerial and organizational levels; (3) impacts on the personal and institutional interaction with surrounding communities, business and society. The results of this case study demonstrate the potential of initiating ESD competencies-courses and ...

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