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Sustainability Challenge (MSc IE)


Admission requirements

This course is obligatory for students of the master’s programme Industrial Ecology.
Students can only participate in the course if they have finished at least 25 EC of the core modules of the first semester of the first year. In addition, students should have passed the integrated project course (Industrial of Urban systems) of the second semester of the first year.
This course is only open for students that are enrolled in the Master’s Programme Industrial Ecology.


In this course, students work in teams on a real-world industrial ecology problem by applying and combining knowledge acquired during the first year. 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 multiple perspectives 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 five 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.

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.


All students have to enroll for course and exam at the start of the course via uSis, Leiden University.
This course is only open for students that are enrolled in the Master’s Programme Industrial Ecology.

Contact information

Dr. Valerio Barbarossa (