Minor Science & Practice for Transformative Change

Broadening minor
Minor code
10 weeks


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. But even though science is clear and policy and business are for longer committed to achieving sustainability, transformative change is not happening. Why is transformative change so hard, what are the drivers and mechanisms that keep society and the economy locked-in? In this Minor we explore different perspectives and use different methods to analyze the inertia and resistance to change in different domains like food, energy, mobility and finance. 

But taking a historical view, it is also evident that even the most powerful and dominant structures ultimately break down and open up, making space for the emergence of new systems. We will use different system views on societal transitions and resilience to explore the patterns and mechanisms driving transformative systems change. Notions like niches, tipping points, thresholds and co-evolution will be introduced and applied to explore potential positive transformations in the different domains. By engaging with stakeholders working on transformative changes you will enrich your analysis and be able to learn from practice and experience action research.

This critical systemic understanding and the insight into possible positive transformations will provide the basis for developing a transformative intervention. 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. Last but not least, in order to make a large impact with your transformative intervention, you will learn how to creatively communicate your message to a large audience that might be unfamiliar with sustainability science.

Learning objectives

The student acquires knowledge of and insight on:

  • Complex societal challenges
  • Patterns and mechanisms of transformative change and transitions
  • System analysis and the role of research
  • Transformative research methods
  • Transformative entrepreneurship ways to integrate different types of knowledge
  • Science communication

The student will work on the following knowledge- and skillset:

  • Interdisciplinary understanding through social learning and teamwork
  • Entrepreneurial research methods
  • Engaged research process
  • Critical research ethics
  • Design, systems and strategic thinking
  • Anticipation of future scenarios

The student will become acquainted with the following mindset:

  • Apply critical and systems thinking
  • Multi-/transdisciplinary
  • Reflexive learning and innovation
  • Collaborative multi- and interdisciplinary work
  • Self-awareness and impact attitude
  • A can-do and pro-active mindset
  • Communication skills

Special aspects

This is an interdisciplinary Minor fueled by all faculties. It is a result of the Strategy2024: Creating Positive Societal Impact: The Erasmian Way. The Minor is a collaborative effort of the working group Sustainability in Education at EUR: a working group consisting of involved academics from all faculties who have written an implementation plan on incorporating sustainability interdisciplinarily in all curricula. This Minor will involve collaboration with Higher Education Quality Agreement programs such as ErasmusX and Impact at the Core.

This year’s edition will be in collaboration with Dutch scientific journalist Diederik Jekel. You will write a script based on thorough scientific research for a video that Diederik Jekel will use for his climate change YouTube Channel.

This minor is open to all EUR students who wish to take a broadening minor. You can submit or change your preferences until 31 May. Leiden University students can register via uSIS. TU Delft students must request prior permission from their Examination Board and can register via the procedure for external students.

Overview content per week






opening lecture and meeting

sustainability and transitions

transdisciplinarity and action research

systems analysis

group forming and domain selection


philosophy of sustainability

resilience and critical transitions in nature

critical thinking

transition analysis

document analysis

group regime analysis


sustainability and business

health and sustainability

document analysis, interview techniques

context analysis 

niche exploration


the role of law


international trade and resources

design thinking




intervision dialogue


justice and inclusivity

sustainable entrepreneurship

envisioning and pathways

envisioning and pathways


transformative social innovation

science communication

assignment writing

identifying seeds of transformative action


transformative governance


developing intervention


transformative business


testing and implementation


transformative research





Teaching methods

The Minor will be organized along these three parallel streams of thinking, organizing and doing. The thinking will offer thought provoking lectures offered by engaged sustainability academics from different schools and invites students to engage in critical discussions. It will offer new methodologies to support critical thinking and a systems and transition perspective as well as design methods to develop new interventions. The students will form small interdisciplinary teams to develop their shared transition analysis of a specific persistent challenge and develop a transformative intervention for food, health, finance, mobility or energy. Each day will be a combination of three elements: a lecture, a practical workshop and group work. The first 5 weeks are dedicated to transformative thinking, the second half to transformative action. The sessions will consist of lectures, seminars, group interactions, design of interdisciplinary interventions and field work.

    Teaching materials 

    Scientific articles, chapters from books, videos, reports.


    Method of examination

    Students will design a concrete intervention based on the theoretical foundation they acquire in this minor. They will be graded based on presentation, participation, and theoretical soundness.

    Assignment (50%): group analysis of a persistent problem that highlights its transformative change potential and a script through which to communicate your intervention to a wider audience (report and presentation 70-30)

    Intervention (20%): propose an intervention to an external party (pitch)

    Presentation (20%): individual reflection on personal learning and take away from Minor for her/his professional future (video)

    Professional behaviour (10%)

    Composition of final grade

    The final grade will be composed of two small individual assignments (40%), a large academic group assignment (50%) and professional behaviour (10%).

    Feedback method
    Students will be able to receive and to provide feedback via Canvas and during class.

    Contact person

    Ana Vasques
    +31 623 673 146

    Derk Loorbach

    +31 (0)10-4088887

    Location: Erasmus University College (EUC)

    Faculty website

    Broadening minor
    Minor code
    10 weeks
    Erasmus University College
    Study points (EC)
    Instruction language
    Erasmus University College, Rotterdam