Education on sustainability

Courses and programmes about sustainability
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Sustainability in education at Erasmus University Rotterdam means paying attention to economic, social and ecological development. The goal is that graduates of our university, the leaders of the future, understand the challenges that we should overcome for our society and environment.

Erasmus University Rotterdam offers different bachelor and master programmes and courses in which sustainability plays a major role.

Bachelor students at Erasmus University Rotterdam have to follow elective courses. If they are interested in sustainability issues, then there are many courses to choose from in order to deepen or broaden their knowledge on topics such as responsible consumption and production or climate change.

In this course, you will learn the economic approach towards the environment and apply this approach to real world environmental and resource problems (including sustainability, the implications of seeing the environment as a commodity and the role of the government or social norms in preventing environmental damage).

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Leadership, Sustainability and Governance is meant to be a provocative course that addresses the role of business and business leaders in both locally and globally relevant problems, such as inequality, corruption and climate change. While business is often a part of these problems, we examine how it can also be part of the solution. You are therefore encouraged to think about how business can create value not just specifically for shareholders, but also for other stakeholders and society in general.

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In this course, we analyse the transition from a linear, oppositional, externalising, identity based discourse on ecology to a circular, inclusive discourse that is based on an ecophilosophical perspective, that focuses on differences and relations. Connecting the domain of arts, science and politics to philosophy, a threefold ecology (ECO3) is explored and fed back into the current debates on ecology. 

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In this course we discuss the ways in which we shape the climate and the climate has shaped, and will continue to shape, us – from the very distant past to the not so distant future. By combining perspectives from ecology, philosophical anthropology, political economy and (geo)politics students get a thorough introduction in the problematic of climate change. 

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This course provides a background in the fundamental principles of ecology, including concepts of natural selection, population and community ecology, biodiversity, and sustainability. Students will acquire an "ecological literacy" about how the natural world works, and develop an understanding of how scientific methods are used to construct ecological knowledge. 

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Plant physiology is the study of plant processes - how plants grow, develop and function as they interact with their physical (abiotic) and living (biotic) environments. This course therefore deals with the physiology of higher plants with emphasis on the whole plant aspects, including (i) structure/function relationships, (ii) water and solute movement, (iii) systemic signalling, (iv) energy sources and needs, (v) plant growth and development, (vi) plant defence against pathogens and herbivores, and (vii) environmental and hormonal control of growth and development.  Each process will be examined at the biochemical, cellular and organismal level so as to provide a more complete understanding of the process. 

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During the past decade, the concept of creative economy along with that of creative industries have experienced an intensifying academic research and policy attention. The course critically investigates theories and issues linked to culture, creativity, economy and cities. It will provide students with a contrasting set of views on the role of cultural and creative industries in cities through the use of theories, case studies and fieldtrips. Topics discussed include: the role of culture and creativity in cities across centuries, the emergence of a creative city (e.g. a fashion capital), the economic geography of cultural production, cultural-led urban (re)generation, gentrification cultural intermediaries, (temporary) clusters, the black box of urban growth.

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Our students can choose from several minors about sustainability and related issues. Have a look at all the minors of EUR or view a selection below.


Science is clear: our current economic development pathway based on fossil resources and linear growth leads to increasing global ecological destruction and socio-economic inequalities and is therefore unsustainable. We are increasingly confronted with the impacts of this unsustainable development on the short term: ecological crises, geopolitical tensions, financial instabilities and socio-economic tensions and protests. 

In this minor, you will work with change agents from business, policy or community within your specific domain to translate your new thinking into concrete action. This can be to support the formulation of a transformative business model, an intervention to help transform the university campus or education, an intervention in the public space to shift behavior with public policy or working with a cooperative or social entrepreneur to establish a social innovation. 

In the Minor Global Health you will come to learn every aspect of Global Health and international Healthcare in low and middle income countries (LMIC), as well as emerging economies to contrast with health and healthcare in The Netherlands. Determinants of Health and Disease (local, regional, national and international), the Global Burden of Disease, Universal Health Coverage, Healthcare systems in diverse cultural backgrounds and learning to deal with limited resources (preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic) will be the main themes.


The first module of this minor will provide an introduction to the analysis of global poverty. It will provide insight into the main concepts of poverty and inequality, and alternative explanations on the persistence of growing global inequalities. It will give an overview of major trends in wealth accumulation, in different regions, and how growing social problems of inequality are directly associated with patterns of development. The second module examines global institutions and their limitations in addressing global poverty. Students will get insight into the historical evolvement of, and attempts to reform, institutions like the UN, the World Bank, IMF, and the growing importance of regional institutions. It will discuss the role of development aid as well as the critique of aid, different country approaches, and how domestic politics influence these. The third module offers students insights into the manifold local approaches that have been successful in addressing the negative consequences of global economic and political development. Case studies from various continents and fields of intervention are discussed, offering constructive perspectives to dealing with poverty and inequality.

In this minor, you will design and execute a consulting project with an organization in order to resolve one or more concrete problems. This project will provide insight into a number of issues relating to management, including entrepreneurship, the non-profit sector and interaction between market, governments and civil society and trends within the community. You will also develop your consultancy skills while having the experience of working for a real organization as part of a team of consultants. You will also make an active contribution to your client organization (and the community) in the form of doing actual research and making valuable recommendations

The minor Public Health consists of modules that cover important contemporary challenges, such as environmental care, mental healthcare and the care of youngsters and of elderly citizens. Within each module, different lecturers will speak about these themes, which will underpin the diversity of urban challenges.

In this minor, we explore the science of well-being. Core questions that will be covered in this minor include: What makes whom happy? Do people make optimal choices to achieve their well-being goals? If not, how can people be supported in optimizing their well-being? How to create thriving organizations and societies with flourishing employees and citizens? And, how do happier and healthier citizens and employees stimulate better societal outcomes and company profits?
To answer these and other questions, this minor will use contemporary scientific evidence and offer multidisciplinary perspectives. The focus will be on topics related to economic behavior and phenomena. 

The minor Responsible Innovation is a unique collaboration between Leiden University, Delft University of Technology and Erasmus University Rotterdam. The programme offers in-depth insight into how responsible innovation can be accomplished and promoted. During this minor you will be introduced to the technical, managerial and socio-economic principles that govern innovation, and discuss ethical and other conditions for innovating responsibly. 

Do you want to learn more about a frontier innovation manifestation and explore how this could contribute to sustainable global development, integrating social, entrepreneurial and technological skills. Would you like to apply your academic knowledge to practical case studies, including an internship abroad? Are you up for an multidisciplinary challenge? If you are answering these questions affirmatively, you are the ideal candidate for this minor!

We are facing challenges: Increasing CO2 emissions are causing climate change and call for an energy transition towards renewable energy sources. In addition, the supplies of fossil fuels and minerals are limited and their availability and prices strongly depend on global politics. In order to tackle this complex societal challenge, various viewpoints have to be considered. In this Minor, you will learn about the various disciplines that are involved in a responsible exploitation and trading of geo-resources and practice their integration. 


In this minor, we focus on understanding why and how transformative business models emerge and how students can contribute by developing business models themselves. The aim of this course is to explore new economic futures by critically engaging with innovative entrepreneurs and following academic debates around economic transition.

This Minor is designed to provide the students with information and analytic skills that are necessary to understand the complex issues that challenge our ability to develop sustainable systems now and in the future, as we are living in an era of unprecedented human impact over nature and resources, where the technological revolution brought us to a point where it may seem that our daily lives are not directly connected to natural laws. 

The main objective of this minor is to gain insight into the business, historical, cultural economic and media dimensions of the fashion industry and the importance of fashion for the global and local economy. It delves into the history of fashion companies and intermediaries, the economic characteristics of the fashion products and its markets, and fashion media and communication, including new media. 

The masters on sustainability are only taught in English.

The Master Global Business & Sustainability is a world leading programme dealing with the complex sustainability challenges faced by business in an integrated manner.

Uncover the business of cultural and creative industries and learn how to become a leading thinker at the crossroads between art and economics.

This programme focuses on different conceptual, analytical and practical approaches to foster sustainable, smart, and climate-resilient cities worldwide.

Agrarian, Food and Environmental Studies offers an interdisciplinary approach – combining political economy, political ecology, and political sociology – to understanding and confronting the impacts of global capitalist development on agrarian structures and environmental systems.

The master Societal Transitions is a transdisciplinary programme that provides you with the knowledge and skills you need to understand, interpret, and facilitate transitions towards a just and sustainable future.

An English major is currently available from the Faculty of Erasmus University College (EUC).

In this major, you will acquire the tools to think critically about the most pressing challenges of our time and the skills to find creative solutions for environmental, social and economic aspects.

For ambitious students, Erasmus University Rotterdam offers honours programmes. Innovative solutions for sustainability challenges are created from multiple angles in these interdisciplinary programmes.

Grand challenges – it is more than evident that the next generation, YOUR generation, will be faced with unprecedented challenges. How to feed 9 billion people in 2050, on a planet that is heavily pressured by climate change, lack of natural resources, acidified oceans, and shortage of food and fresh water (to name a few). And it is also evident that the current system, with its focus on growth no matter what, has caused a number of these problems. It’s time for a systems change.

EUR traditionally is THE University for Future Leaders in business and (public & private) management.  Those leaders need, in this era, to be trained in a systemic and holistic way and to be fully aware of the challenges facing us and capable of handling them.

These challenges can only be faced, solved or at least dealt with, by creative and holistic thinking. This requires individuals with courage, optimism and a strong belief in a better future. Will you be such an individual?

Students who are admitted to this track in the Erasmus Honours Programme will embark on a fascinating and exploratory journey, with some of the world’s frontrunners in sustainable thinking (all of them happen to work at Erasmus University).

What is sustainability? Why should it matter to you? Answering these questions will generate more questions. In this honours course, which is open to all students, the concept of sustainability will be presented and discussed from several perspectives. Students will gain insights into the triple bottom line approach to sustainability and examine the different aspects and challenges it encompasses for contemporary societies and individuals. This approach allows students to explore three aspects of sustainability: social, environmental and economic dimensions.

Throughout this course, students will not only acquire both a theoretical and practical understanding of sustainability, but also develop a variety of skills to conduct empirical research on this topic. Students will have the opportunity to collaborate with participants from China to collect first-hand data. Students’ own research projects will allow them to investigate sustainability practices in China. This course is also designed for students to engage with the intercultural dimension of sustainability and work in small diverse groups on their research project.

The International Bachelor Arts and Culture Studies and the Dutch-language bachelor Algemene Cultuurwetenschappen offer an Honours Programme in the second bachelor year. A limited number of students  are selected for this course on the basis of their grades in the first year and a motivation letter.

Sustainability and cIrcular economy are important themes in this honours programme.

Would you like to know more about this honours programme? Enter the course code (CC2100) in the Course GuideOpens external for more information.

Are you a professional who wants to gain more insight into sustainability issues? Have a look at our executive education.

The relevance of CSR reflects the increasing acknowledgment that companies have more than just economic and financial responsibilities. The Executive Programme CSR of ESAA Erasmus provides insight into these themes and focuses on chances and opportunities. It provides academic and theoretical insights, as well as a translation to more practical solutions. The Executive Programme CSR is intensive and aimed at the professional, in particular directors, managers, consultants and policy-makers.

Policy ambitions and emerging business practices suggest a rapidly accelerating transition towards the circular economy, but meanwhile, our patterns of production and consumption and their devastating consequences, seem rather persistent. Transitioning towards circularity is not just about changing technology: it is about changing society.

These MOOC's are in English.


Integrated landscape management and large-scale landscape restoration should be in every company’s business strategy because in order to reach the Sustainable Development Goal on Land Degradation Neutrality (SDG Number 15.3) scaling up and acceleration of business-driven landscape restoration is urgently needed.

This requires business professionals with a vision, the right knowledge and skills. This MOOC aims to train the next generation of business professionals and developers to acknowledge business’ interdependency with healthy landscapes and understand the value of ecosystem resources.

Local economic development refers to the processes by which local governments, businesses, and civil society groups get together to raise income in a sustainable way and improve their lives in a well-defined area. It’s about creating jobs, securing livelihoods, improving infrastructure and managing local resources.

The Course on Planning for Climate Change in African Cities provides the foundation for understanding cities’ exposure and sensitivity to climate change, and how cities can manage these impacts in the face of growing uncertainty. It does so by introducing the basic concepts of urban resilience and adaptation, by using illustrative case studies in different African cities. Furthermore, this module provides lectures on the different approaches for climate change planning, whether ad hoc, strategic or mainstreaming; introduces the different steps in the planning cycle – from initial assessment to monitoring and evaluation; and presents the different decision support and assessment tools for prioritizing climate change actions. This course broadens the discussion on planning for climate change by engaging learners to apply their knowledge and practice their decision-making skills in a simulated exercise.

In this course we explore the Circular Economy: how businesses can create value by reusing and recycling products, how designers can come up with amazingly clever solutions, and how you can contribute to make the Circular Economy happen.

You will learn to re-think the economic system you’re experiencing every day, and act upon it. Be a leader in this major paradigm shift! Shape a more circular future together with our global network.

The course is led by TU Delft and co-created with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Sustainability.

What can businesses do to counter climate change and create a sustainable business culture? Why is this relevant for business anyway? Explore how business can contribute to a better future for people AND the planet without giving up profits.

This course has been developed by Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University (RSM). It focuses on the role of businesses in achieving the SDGs. You will gain insights from leaders of international companies and academics in business and management who will guide you through the issue of how businesses can contribute to the SDGs.

The course received a 'MOOC Award of Excellence' by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the SDG Academy in September 2019.

Find a sustainable course or paper with the SDGs mapper

The SDG Mapper is used to classify the extent to which our education and research is related to the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the United Nations. It shows which of the seventeen goals have a high or low number of publications and courses and thereby, for example, can provide insights to start the conversation when formulation of impact ambitions at a school level. Important to note is that it does not say anything about EUR being sustainable or having impact.

The algorithm that is used for the SDG Mapper, is open sourced and available via GithubOpens. Currently only English-language academic articles and course descriptions are included from PURE, our Current Research Information System (CRIS) and OSIRIS in this alpha version. Dutch-language articles and course descriptions will be machine translated to be included in the next version. The SDG mapper algorithm is validated by researchers from the International Institute of Social Studies. In addition, it is currently compared the EUR algorithm with that of Elsevier and Leiden CWTS.

Community for Learning & Innovation - Alexander Santos Lima

Transformative education for sustainability

Transformative education aims to enable and empower students to become lifelong learners who are capable of understanding and shaping their environments in just and sustainable ways. 

About DIT
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Meet the sustainability educators at EUR

During the Sustainability Days 2023, educators from various EUR schools presented their educational activities and engaged in meaningful conversations with both staff and students about possibilities of sustainability education.

Meet the sustainability educators

News sustainability in education

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