Skills for Sustainability

Skills for Sustainability aims to develop and provide an innovative set of skills training for UU students.

Led by researchers from the faculty of Law, Economics and Governance, Dr. Marie-Jeanne Schiffelers and Dr. Sebastiaan Steenman and in collaboration with colleagues across varying multidisciplinary faculties of UU, this Seed project aims to develop and provide an innovative set of skills training for UU students with a unique focus on the characteristics of sustainability issues, in accordance with UU's strategic plan for 2025, which aims to contribute to sustainability challenges as a top priority.

Through a series of activities (literature review, interviews with professionals/alumni/students/teachers) the project team will harness the experience and expertise of stakeholders from professional fields and already established interdisciplinary skills modules at UU, to develop a coherent set of skills modules that will help students to work effectively on sustainability issues.  

Being meaningful in coping with the problems that surround sustainability issues requires that professionals have knowledge about and insights into these issues and they are especially in need of skills to use knowledge and insights from different disciplines in a relevant way. This project aims to offer UU students the necessary knowledge and skills to engage with sustainability issues in a relevant, insightful and meaningful way, by exploring which skills are relevant.

Although skills education is part of most UU programs, this is mostly not connected with the specific characteristics of sustainability issues and the inherently interdisciplinary context of these issues. This set of modules could potentially be open to all UU students, and the team will assess the list of modules with relevant stakeholders both within and outside UU.

mind map of skills for sustainability competencies

Update from the project team (December 2022)

After careful consideration and a literature review the team decided to use the framework from Brundiers et al. (2020) as a starting point, as this framework fits best for thinking about skills development, and best represents the ‘state of the art’. This framework (see image) defines different competences which are important for professionals in dealing with sustainability issues.

This process has led to the addition of implementational and interpersonal competencies to the competencies that were already defined by Wiek et al., resulting in the following model (see image).

In addition, the team have explored what other universities and educational institutions, nationally and internationally, offer in terms of education for sustainability skills.

This project was made possible through Pathways to Sustainability Seed funding.