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Sustainability Challenge (MSc GofS)


Title course: Sustainability Challenge

Coordinator: Dr. Valerio Barbarossa and Dr. E.H.W.J. Cuppen

Admission requirements

This course is obligatory for students of the master’s programme Governance of Sustainability. The course is not open for guest students. To participate in the Sustainability Challenge, students need to have completed at least 48 EC of the first year MSc courses.


In this course, students work in teams on a real-world sustainability problem by applying and combining knowledge acquired from thematic courses and the transdisciplinary skills course. The project is commissioned by an external party (i.e., the commissioner) and supervised by an assigned supervisor. In this setting, students are trained to cooperate in an interdisciplinary team and to come up with real-life practical solutions to fulfill the commissioner’s deliverables.

Learning goals:

By the end of the sustainability challenge, students will be able to:

  • Integrate perspectives from both environmental science and governance disciplines to solve a sustainability problem

  • Analyze and develop a strategy to tackle a real-world problem

  • Develop sustainable solutions to be implemented in a societal or organizational context

  • Manage both internal (e.g., team members) and external (e.g., commissioner) stakeholders

  • Manage time effectively

Education format

The format consists of problem-oriented teamwork in groups of 4-6 students and three plenary presentations where students present research plan, intermediate results and final findings. In addition, the coordinator provides information on the structure, requirements and objectives of the course in the introductory lecture. During this lecture, one or two professional project managers are invited to share their experience with approaching sustainability problems, translating results into practice, managing different stakeholders and working in a team.

Class Schedule

An introductory lecture, three plenary presentations as well as meetings by appointment with the supervisor/commissioner and the team. Students should be available for at least two days a week to work on the project and reserve at least one day a week for team meetings.

Assessment method

The group present their findings to the commissioner and the supervisor and delivers the final report. The final report can have different formats as discussed with the supervisor and commissioner. It is possible to write an academic paper, to present a conceptual design, or an extensive research report.


Brightspace will be used for communications and distributing study material.


This course uses Brightspace. Course documents, the course manual, announcements etc. can be found via Brightspace. To get access to the Brightspace page of this course, you first need to register via uSis.


MSc Governance of Sustainability students can register for the course and exam via uSis. Other students need to contact the study advisors of the programme via

Contact information

Dr. Valerio Barbarossa (