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Sustainability Challenge (MSc GofS)


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.

Course objectives

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


You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

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.

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.

Reading list

Brightspace will be used for communications and distributing study material.


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

From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


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


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.