Transformative education for sustainability

Exploring the inner workings of transformative education for sustainability
Person holding up scrapes of clothes, in the background more people working with fabric

Few issues are more relevant for students than sustainability. Universities, however, do not equip them sufficiently to deal with sustainability challenges. This research project explores the possibilities of developing a transformative approach to education, one that exposes students to concrete sustainability challenges and teaches them the competencies needed to address these challenges in practice. 

How do we study?

Learning by doing: we apply the transformative learning approach directly to the classroom, developing Minors and other educational programs. For example, in our minor ‘Transformative Change for a Sustainable World’ we expose students to complex systemic issues from various disciplines - including philosophy, ecology, business and law – and invite them to research, develop, and communicate transformative interventions in transdisciplinary teams.  

While conducting transformative education, we continuously study the processes that make students' and teacher’s learning journeys truly transformative. Through surveys, interviews and in-class reflections, we ask questions such as: What prompts a transformative journey in students and teachers when navigating sustainability challenges? What is the role of teamwork? What new roles emerge as students conduct research projects in the real world? Findings are integrated to advance our educational programs. 

What we’re currently working on 

  • Minor ‘Transformative Change for a Sustainable World’. We are currently integrating learnings from our previous Minor experience into the design of our new Minor for the academic year 2023/2024. 
  • Collaborative academic paper on transformative learning. Based on student reflections from the last three years, we are writing a collaborative academic paper on transformative learning. Insights from this paper will be used to form a community of practitioners at Erasmus University. 


Headshot of Dr Ana Vasques, smiling into the camera, standing in front of trees

About the researcher 

Ana Vasques is a course designer and developer, programme coordinator, and a sustainability researcher at Erasmus University College (EUC). At DIT, she is the academic lead for transformative education, and develops and coordinates our minor ‘Transformative Change for a Sustainable World’. 

Read more

Work with us 

Would you like to contribute to our research or work with us? We consult organisations interested in transformative education, facilitate dialogues on this approach, and look for new partners to collaborate. We are happy about any input and are specifically looking for (new) methodologies that can stimulate and guide people in their transformative learning journeys. Please send an email to Dr Ana Vasques at  


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