Education for sustainable development

Education for sustainable development


Our focus in both research and education is collaborative transformative learning. We understand sustainable development as a continuous process of searching, learning, and shaping alternative pathways. Actors must be equipped with relevant knowledge and skills to be able to actively participate and take responsibility. University graduates can play key roles as citizens, entrepreneurs, policymakers, researchers, and in many other functions. To build knowledge and foster skills relevant to sustainable development among students, we offer curricula and courses at all tertiary education levels. Furthermore, we support lecturers who integrate sustainable development into their education activities. Findings from CDE’s ongoing research in different fields of sustainability science and in various regions around the world constitute a major source of first-hand insights conveyed in our courses.

The Education for Sustainable Development cluster works on four thematic priority areas, in line with CDE’s overarching strategic goals:
• Curriculum development and implementation
• Approaches and tools for formal and informal training
• Transformative learning
• Alliances and communities of practice for learning for change

Curriculum development and implementation

To build transformation knowledge and skills relevant to sustainable development, we offer a number of curricula and courses at all levels of tertiary education. Students of all faculties and departments at the University of Bern have the opportunity to attend CDE’s Bachelor Minor and Master Minor in Sustainable Development. The International Graduate School (IGS) North-South brings together PhD students from various world regions. The Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Sustainable Development offers further education at the postgraduate level for practitioners.

Approaches and tools for formal and informal training

Scientific communities are in a position to make substantial contributions to sustainable development by producing knowledge not only to understand systems, but also to help formulate sustainability targets and to enhance transformation towards sustainable development. To create broad awareness of such opportunities in all disciplines, we develop tools such as guidelines, videos, and slides; in addition, we offer tailored coaching and workshops. Our aim is to support academic institutions, faculties, and lecturers in identifying disciplinary links to sustainable development and integrating sustainable development in their training and curricula.

Transformative learning

The continuous search for trade-offs between ecological, sociocultural, and economic interests demands negotiated solutions. Processes of mutual learning are becoming increasingly important in this respect. Our focus lies in particular on transformative learning – learning for, not about, transformation. Together with academic partners in the fields of pedagogy and didactics, the Education for Sustainable Development cluster engages in research aimed at advancing collaborative transformative learning.

Alliances and communities of practice for learning for change

Activities related to sustainable development are ongoing at various universities and departments, including in the field of education for sustainable development. To create synergies, we are building a growing alliance and community of practice of mainly university members interested in, or responsible for, education for sustainable development. We are jointly developing approaches and tools to advance education for sustainable development and exchanging knowledge and experiences. The aim is to find new opportunities for interdisciplinary and inter-institutional cooperation in research and education for sustainable development.