Copenhagen, Denmark

Understanding Sustainability

when 5 August 2024 - 23 August 2024
language English
duration 3 weeks
credits 7.5 EC
fee DKK 6375

This is a course on the very fundamentals of sustainability and sustainable development, giving eight central perspectives.

In recent decades, it has become increasingly evident that a key challenge for the global community is to create a more sustainable future. While the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals as well as the Paris Agreement from 2015 are examples of significant international efforts to achieve a more sustainable future, conflict and disagreement remain at all levels of society about what constitutes “sustainability” and how to achieve it. Accordingly, it requires an understanding of the wide variety of ways in which sustainability is defined, conceptualized, understood and used among different sciences, stakeholders and decision makers, in order to actively engage in this contested domain of sustainability in practice.

The course will tentatively follow the following topics:
- What is sustainability?
- Interpreting and measuring sustainability
- Practising sustainability
- Applications in practice
- Relating to student’s own scientific field

Course leader

Søren Bøye Olsen and Christian Gamborg

Target group


Course aim

1. Describe different conceptualizations and definitions of sustainability

2. Explain how different definitions of sustainability relate to different ethical perspectives

3. Explain sustainability from different perspectives, including economic, social, governance and ecological dimensions


1. Assess how sustainability is operationalized and measured across different levels of scales

2. Identify weaker and stronger conceptualizations of sustainability

3. Identify similarities and differences in value-based and empirical assumptions underlying different conceptualizations of sustainability in practice


1. Critically analyze sustainability strategies and plans

2. Reflect on interconnections, tradeoffs and synergies between economic, social, governance and ecological dimensions of sustainability

3. Reflect on different conceptualizations of and strategies to achieve sustainability from an interdisciplinary perspective

Fee info

DKK 6375: EU/EAA citizens
DKK 11437: Non-EU/EAA citizens