Bern, Switzerland

Co-designing pathways for transformative change

online course
when 31 August 2023 - 8 September 2023
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 3 EC
fee CHF 70

Do you want to be part of the solution? Achieving human well-being and eradicating poverty for all people on earth – while protecting our planet’s climate and biodiversity – will require transformative change. To bring about this change we first need to understand the complex global challenges we face. The International Summer School on Sustainable Development is an opportunity to deepen your understanding of these issues – through creative, interactive, and participatory learning.

Current global sustainability challenges are increasingly complex. Really understanding what’s at stake requires knowledge on systemic interactions and on competing claims by different actors. Science, thus, has a major role to play in informing negotiations and solutions to guide the societal transformations needed to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The purpose of this Summer School is to empower participants to act in the face of these challenges. In this nine-day online course, experienced sustainability researchers will highlight the most important development issues in their respective fields. These presentations will alternate with study time where participants can deepen their knowledge individually or in groups. Moreover, participants will form interdisciplinary teams in which they will co-design solutions to concrete sustainability challenges.

Structure of the Summer School

The course involves the following main elements:

Preparatory reading/activities prior to the course
Interactive thematic sessions with presentations by distinguished experts
Student projects in intercultural and interdisciplinary teams
Interactive Slack workspace and peer-to-peer exchange and learning
Presentation and discussion of student projects
Reflection on learnings for your bachelor/master studies

Target group

The International Bachelor and master Summer School is open to bachelor and master students of all disciplines. We invite applications from candidates in the arts and humanities, natural sciences and social sciences - as well as those doing their studies in law, media or policy - who focus on the relationship between environment and society.
Applicants should be fluent in English.

We aim to have a lively, international and interdisciplinary group of participants with a balanced number of students of both genders from different disciplines and different countries.

Given the interactive nature of the summer school, participants are expected to have at least B2 level English. However, we do not require a formal English language certificate. Participants will though be required to give a presentation and to actively take part in the discussions.

Course aim

Learning outcomes and competences

The Summer School is designed to produce the following learning outcomes and competences:
Professional competences

You can explain the different concepts of sustainable development and are able to analyse and critically reflect on the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda and the related trade-offs.
You understand the urgency of action and are able to explain different entry points for sustainability transformation – illustrated through different examples.
You understand the complex and dynamic society–nature interactions involved in sustainability transformations.
You have honed your methodological skills for tackling complex questions of sustainable development.
You are able to identify sustainability challenges in your own living environment and, together with others, you explore possible solutions and work out appropriate strategies.
You critically reflect on how your specific fields of study can contribute to sustainability transformation in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary contexts.

Social competences

You are able to communicate in an intercultural and interdisciplinary team, to argue clearly and comprehensibly, and to meet other students’ arguments and contributions with openness and curiosity.
You are able to perceive facts from different perspectives and deal with complex questions and problems.

Interpersonal competences

You are aware of global uncertainties, your perceptions, and your options for contributing to sustainability transformations, and you are empowered to initiate action.
You are able to develop positive visions of how your own living environment could be made more sustainable.

Credits info

3 EC
Participants having successfully completed the Summer School will receive a certificate of attendance and can obtain 5 ECTS points. 1 ECTS correspond to 25 – 30 hours of work, consisting of preparatory work, full participation in the course and possibly a form of examination. Acknowledgement of the ECTS points in the study programs at home institutions is the responsibility of the participants.

Fee info

CHF 70: Included in the price: Fee for course and course material.


Course fee reduction can be granted for students experiencing financial hardship, for example:

those from a low-income family
mature students with existing financial commitments
those with a disabilty
students with a child or childre