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LDE Sustainability Challenge


Dit vak wordt alleen in het Engels aangeboden.

Admission requirements

This course is part of the Bachelor Honours Programme Sustainability (Leiden-Delft-Erasmus) and is therefore only open to students that are enrolled in this programme. Students take both courses of the programme (Fundamentals and Challenge) in the same academic year.


  • Sustainability

  • Design thinking

  • Topic will vary widely depending on the specific regional challenges groups choose and may be related to the urban environment, circular propositions as part of the circular economy.


Sustainability, environmental science, economics, policy science, urban studies, sociologym, systemic design.


  1. Researching
  2. Analysing
  3. Generating Solutions
  4. Project-based working
  5. Collaborating
  6. Oral communication
  7. Written communication
  8. Presenting
  9. Societal awareness
  10. Reflecting
  11. Resilience

Number of students

Minimum of 24 and maximum 36.


In this challenge, you will work in a small, interdisciplinary team of students (4-5) on real-life societal sustainability challenges. These challenges will address problems faced by regional stakeholders from across public, private or civic spheres.

An example of such a challenge could be to develop solutions to the housing crisis that simultaneously help cities in meeting their climate goals. Another example could be investigating policies to make sustainable technologies such as renewables or electric vehicles available to a broad spectrum of society. A final example could be to create a development plan with one business or a range of businesses to make their supply chain practices more circular.

You will learn to use a design-oriented approach for investigating and addressing systemic problems. This approach will help you develop novel solutions to challenges across different disciplines.

A good outcome would be a clear iterative improvement in addressing the challenge whereby groups continually develop their understanding of the problem (from different scientific perspectives including the disciplines above) and challenge themselves to broaden the solution space. In terms of outputs a good result would be the provision of new approaches and prototypes of solutions to stakeholders in addressing the problems they face.

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Work effectively in an interdisciplinary team of students.

  • Analyse a real-world problem from multiple perspectives.

  • Work in a professional manner with an external organization (challenge owner).

  • Identify relevant design methods and techniques from those introduced in the Fundamentals course and apply these in a concrete challenge.

  • Combine insights from different disciplines to substantiate designs of solutions.

  • Present research and solutions effectively, both in oral and written form.

Programme and timetable

Meetings will be organized on Tuesdays, will begin at 19:00 and run for 2 hours. The programme will include meetings of the following types:

  • face to face coordination meetings with the rest of your group,

  • group supervision meetings with course instructors,

  • progress meetings presenting and giving feedback to other groups,

  • Meetings with regional stakeholders at a frequency depending on availability and the specific challenge

  • Enrichment sessions on sustainability with invited guest speakers

Dates - Tuesdays 19:00 - 21:00 (Locations will alternate between 3 locations (Leiden (The Hague), Delft & Erasmus)), so be prepared to travel for sessions):

27-feb | (tbd) Kick-off to Challenges course
05-mrt | Independent work session
12-mrt | (Delft) Enrichment workshop session
19-mrt | Independent work session
26-mrt | (Rotterdam) Carousel - peer feedback session
02-apr | Independent work session
09-apr | (The Hague) Enrichment workshop session
16-apr | (tbd) Presentations problem definition
23-apr | (Delft) Preparation for design phase - pressure cooker
30-apr | Independent work session
07-mei | (The Hague) Enrichment workshop session
14-mei | Independent work session
21-mei | (Rotterdam) Carousel - peer feedback session
28-mei | Independent work session
04-jun | (tbd) Enrichment workshop session
11-jun | Independent work session
18-jun | Independent work session
25-jun | (Leiden) Final presentations & drinks
02-jul | Hand in report

Reading list

Readings will be directed in relation to the challenges undertaken and literature will be announced in class or via Brightspace.

Course load and teaching method

This course is worth 10 ECTS, which means the total course load equals 280 hours:

  • Meetings divided over 20 weeks of = 2 hours weekly (participation is mandatory)

  • Practical work: 10 hours/week

    • including 8 hours meeting stakeholders or regions over the entire period),
    • including the Challenge specific reading: 4 hours/week.
  • Final problem report: 40 hours

Assessment methods

The assessment methods look as follows:

  • 10% Participation assessed continually through participation in seminars

  • 20% Presentation of the final product (June 13th 2023)

  • 30% midterm group report of the project proposal & design brief (deadline April 11th 2023)

  • 40% final group report of the product of 6000-7000 words (deadline June 27th 2023) • activities included in the final report could include activities such as apps, blogs, vlogs, visualisations or other type of design etc.

Students could only pass this course after successful completion of all partial exams.

The assessment methods will be further explained in the first session of the class.


The Brightspace environment of Leiden University will be used in this course. Students will be enrolled to the Brightspace module by the organisation of the course.

Registration process

Enrolling in this course is possible from 1 September 2023 up to 8 October 2023 (23:59hr), through the Honours Academy of Leiden University. The registration link will be posted on the student website of the Honours Academy of Leiden University.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for this course. Your registration will be done centrally.

Please note for Delft students: Interested TU Delft students should first have been selected as Honours Programme Bachelor (HPB) students by their respective faculty. Only HPB students are eligible to register for this programme.


Programme coordinator: Esther van der Ent,