The study programme offers tools for social learning to tap into the collective intelligence of stakeholders and experts. Issues such as energy, water and food production, waste and recycling, sustainable housing and transport are covered.

The courses provide an overview on the most recent insights from academics and practitioners relating to global change and to transformational learning for sustainability.

Target public

The Certificate targets professionals and students of any degree programme (Bachelor, Master, or Ph.D.). The Certificate offers direct experience of engaging and co-creating with a very diverse social learning group. Experiential learning opportunities, including
peer group projects on salient problems in Luxembourg, equip participants for making better informed and more reflexive judgments for effective action.

The programme is designed to be compatible with a full-time job or study programme. Students have a choice: They can enrol to obtain the Certificate as second qualification in parallel to pursuing their main degree whilst at the University. Alternatively they can take individual courses as optional courses that count towards their main degree.

Learning objectives

Participants will develop the following competences:

  • to apply systems thinking to understand the complexity of society, environment and their interactions.
  • to respect the conflicting perspectives on an issue that are held by diverse experts and stakeholders, stemming from diversity in experience, values and world views.
  • to recognise uncertainties and tensions arising from the gulf between local and global perspectives and modes of inquiry.
  • skills in negotiation: respect, listening, giving and taking to find mutually acceptable solutions to complex problems.
  • to develop ‘citizen science’ approaches and techniques for creatively integrating the social and scientific emphases of the two phases of the course.
  • an appreciation of alternative forms of social organization and enterprise for achieving a sustainable economic exchange system.
  • to engage science and scientists productively in social learning processes with diverse groups of stakeholders for concerted action on local issues of environment and sustainability


The Certificate requires 20 ECTS that will be collected by completing 2 core courses (6 +6 ECTS), 1 peer group projects (4 ECTS)
and/or 1 auxiliary course (4 ECT). Peer group project is required for at least one semester.

Winter Semester
Core course 6 ECTS

Social Enterprise
and Social Innovation (SESI)

Peer group
Auxilary course
Summer Semester
Core course 6 ECTS

Science and Citizens meet
challenge of Sustainability (SCCS)

Peer group
Auxilary course

Winter semester Core course  (6ECTS) –  Social Enterprise and Social Innovation (SESI)

This course of 9 sessions explores social enterprises as vehicles for social innovation to address challenges of social inequity and sustainability. Diverse legal, financial and business models, and stakeholder relations aspects are explored. One overarching theme is defining, measuring and reporting on the common good and sustainable value creation in a pluralist society.

The course is interdisciplinary as it draws on perspectives from economics, legal analysis, moral philosophy, sociology and management science, as well as on case studies presented by practitioners. The case studies serve to explore the applicability of the concepts and challenges discussed in prior sessions with practitioners, and to explore which of these aspects of the presented approach is case specific and which aspects of the approaches for social innovation might be transferable to developing new projects the Luxembourg context.

Learning outcomes :

Learning outcomes include the abilities to:

  • Engage in complex debates on value creation, looking at social and economic value, recognising that diverse impacts of a social enterprise may be valued differently by diverse stakeholders.
  • Understand relations of diverse legal forms and governance of enterprises.
  • Appreciate value conflicts between personal beliefs and ethical considerations within one-self and others.
  • Recognise that ethics in social enterprise pertains to evaluating combinations of means and ends from a moral point of view. Engage in a theoretically informed discussion of the (positive or negative) “ethical merits” of Social Enterprise, whilst realising that there is a multitude of disparate considerations to take into account in any ethical assessment; thus, there may not be “an easy answer” with respect to the ethics of Social Enterprise.
  • Recognise that new forms of social coordination help to define values and value creation models that emphasise listening, giving and taking to find ‘acceptable’ solutions. Propose solutions to disputes arising from disparate worldviews and underlying values by applying methods for relating perspectives from diverse interests and disciplines to each other.
  • Recognise the relation between different approaches to financing enterprise and the uses of ‘profits’ in the business model.
  • Make judgments and take a personal stance on the meaning of social enterprise for sustainable development in specific situations, building on the reflexive understanding that to know your own position you have to understand the position of others.

Evaluation :

  • Peer Group Projects – Peer group project presentation + final report (link to PDF)
  • Individual learning – Assignements + final report (link to PDF)

Session 1. Social innovation and social enterprise – why does it matter to you?

Overview on course concept, peer group projects and learning outcomes

Ariane König, Senior Researcher, University of Luxembourg

This first session introduces the Certificate in Sustainability and Social Innovation and provides an outline and core concepts of the course Social Enterprise and Social Innovation. The tasks for the peer groups will also be discussed. We will work in break-out groups to take stock of the diversity of meanings and priorities associated with social enterprise, social innovation, and transforming the economic system for sustainability.

Session 1 bis. Saturday Workshop on systemic project design

Peer group project design using methods for systems thinking

Bo Raber, Kristina Hondrila & Ariane König

  1. Introductory lecture on design thinking as an example for a human centred design approach as a basis for experiencing a design thinking process in action: peer groups will work with their peer group leads.
  2. The workshop will also introduce a series of simple systems thinking and influence diagram principles and develop the skills to create basic feedback models, designed to capture the structure of systemic interactions in social-environmental-technological systems. We will use these systems thinking tools to provide simple representations of the peer group projects with the goal to identify factors, feedbacks and leverage points; creating a shared context necessary for collaboration. The focus will be on clarifying what has been identified as the central challenge, and to place it in the broader social, cultural, technological and economic operating environment within which the system operates. It is expected that these systems tools will then be useful to participants for peer group projects or even in their own professional context.
  3. Group presentations & critical reflection on the approach (30 min)

Session 2. Transforming the economy: Concepts and measures

Part 1 – Learning for action in complex social-ecological-technological systems.

Dr Ariane König, University of Luxembourg

This session introduces different ways of how we can think of the ‘transformation of a system for sustainability’, starting from the assumption that the social, technological, economic and environmental spheres of systems are co-produced and interconnected. We will critically discuss three theories of social learning for systemic change derived from economics, environmental management and environmental education, and implications of these new ways of thinking and learning for higher education.

Part 2 – The Circular Economy: designing projects through co-creation processes

Dr Paul Schlosseler, Associate at the consultancy =ImpaKT s.à.r.l.

This lecture will provide an introduction to basic concepts related to the circular economy. It is only recently that the throwaway culture is under scrutiny by governments and researchers. The short lifespan of many consumer goods, their wastefulness and the growing awareness that their embedded carbon has implications for climate change, demands a slower throughput of materials in the economy. Merits and risks of a new focus in in the economy on this concept are explored.

The lecture will present examples how co-creation processes with diverse stakeholders in enterprises help finding new solutions. Emphasis is placed on the role of co-creation processes in bringing about such systemic change; this role is illustrated with a range of examples of innovation that have proven successful in practice in Luxembourg.

Session 3. Is sustainable economic development reconcilable with growth?

Part 1 – Economic Growth: Past, Present and Future

Prof. Andreas Irmen, University of Luxembourg

Historians teach us that the world’s economic history is largely a history of stagnation. The phase of sustained growth was only ignited in the second half of the 18th century by the Industrial Revolution in Britain. Since then, many countries have experienced long periods of sustained, i.e., exponential, growth of per-capita income. At the same time, the world income distribution has become more and more skewed. Before the Industrial Revolution estimated differences in income per-capita were rather small. Today they are huge: per-capita incomes in the richest countries are approximately 30 times higher than in the poorest countries. Explaining these developments has always been at the heart of the Science of Economics.

The first part of this lecture takes a closer look at these past developments. In the second part, we venture a look forward. Among the questions we address are the following:

  • Can the process of sustained economic growth go on? Does the concept of sustainable growth help to answer this question?
  • Who needs economic growth? Does economic growth imply happiness? Is economic growth necessary to maintain our current standard of living? Does economic growth help the welfare state in the face of population aging and tight public budgets?
  • Is “no-growth” or even “degrowth” a reasonable option? How do societies have to adapt to such scenarios? Does the long history of economic growth teach us lessons about post-growth societies?

Part 2 – Case Study Bhutan – An economy guided by the principles of Gross National Happiness

What kind of world do we want to live in? One where humanity is at service of the economy or one where the economy is at service to humanity? This is one of the core questions inherent in the narrative of transforming the economy and society for sustainability. How do we transform from the current growth-based economic and capitalist model to an economy at service to society. There are many examples of towns, regions and countries that are experimenting with new approaches. One of those examples is Bhutan, the tiny Himalayan Kingdom with a population of 750,000 inhabitants wedged in a geopolitical hotspot between the world’s two largest nations – China and India. Bhutan’s philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH) has been making headlines since the late 1970s and has evolved into a policy, government and constitutional mechanism that is trying to steer a path of sustainable economic development with values while improving the wellbeing and happiness of the Bhutanese people.

In this session we will explore the history and evolution of a Buddhist way of life into the philosophy of GNH and subsequently into a measurement tool as well as a policy and business assessment tool. The session will focus on the opportunities and challenges of balancing sustainable economic development with a constitutional mandate of the government to care for the wellbeing and happiness of the Bhutanese people. In particular we will explore the nine domains of the GNH Index which indicate the most important aspects of life in Bhutan. They are: Psychological Wellbeing, Standard of Living, Good Governance, Health, Education, Community Vitality, Cultural Diversity and Resilience, Time Use, and Ecological Diversity and Resilience. We will also explore in a brief overview how GNH has influenced international developments in “wellbeing economics”, contributed to debates about the broader measurement of wellbeing indicators beyond GDP and a framework proposed to the UN SDG process called “New Development Paradigm”.

Session 4. Leveraging business and finance for social and environmental impact: business model canvas, stakeholder analysis and impact finance solutions.

Hedda Pahlson-Moller – CEO of TIIME, Social Impact Catalyst; Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship and Social Entrepreneurship, Sacred Heart University Executive MBA program

Social Innovation comes in all shapes and sizes. It is not limited by politics, religion or borders, nor defined by legal structure or financial model (profit does not define effectiveness, output or outcome). Governments, NGOs, Academics and Business alike have achieved their respective success stories in driving positive social change. And yet there is no agreed magic formula to transform a good deed into systemic change, which begs further research and testing of combinations – from public-private partnerships to hybrid social purpose organizations with daring mixtures of for-profit and not-for-profit models and supported through equally innovative blended capital (grants + investment).

What happens when the promise of social innovation meets the potential of entrepreneurship? Pilots, pivots, business models and disruption!

An entrepreneur is evaluated on her business idea’s viability to scale sustainably and develop a business model that can adapt to market responses. She needs to learn to fail fast and leverage limited resources to stay afloat. The same principles govern social entrepreneurship, with the additional challenge of maintaining social impact objectives at the core of their activities. This session will provide a quick overview on the social enterprise and impact finance ecosystem, in particular in Luxembourg, before providing a concrete conceptual tool to build your own social enterprise. Accordingly, the class will focus on the following components:

  1. Principles of entrepreneurship – value creation through limited resources (and infinite challenges)
  2. Business Model Canvasing – the STORY: a visual sanity check of concept and viability
  3. Stakeholder analysis – the prerequisite for measuring social impact
  4. Financing solutions – the emergence of impact investing

Session 5. Social Innovation in a Real-world Lab

Dipl.-Ing. Richard Beecroft, Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS), Karlsruhe Institut of Technology

Dipl.-Ing. Helena Trenks, Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS), Karlsruhe Institut of Technology

Real-world Labs are a versatile infrastructure to support transdisciplinary research, social learning processes and social innovation in several ways. In this workshop, we will present an up-to-date understanding of RwLs gained through our work in the Karlsruhe Real-world Labs “District Future—Urban Lab” and “Urban Transition Lab 131”, highlighting the different possibilities for learning therein. As an exercise, we will form groups and develop an „ideal“ RwL setting for a fictive technology-related topic (e.g. related to energy storage or autonomous driving). Based on the comparison of the different approaches, we will identify chances and pitfalls of RwLs as infrastructure for social innovation.

Session 6. Better coupling reporting financy

Part 1 – Sustainability reporting and social impact assessment

Viktoría Valdimarsdóttir, Ábyrgar lausnir ltd. (Responsible.Solutions)

This lecture will introduce a case studies worked on by the company Ábyrgar lausnir ltd. (Responsible.Soultions), which offers businesses and organizations, of all sizes in different industries and sectors, consultancy on sustainable development strategy and effective solutions in sustainability reporting.

The business environment is changing towards more sustainable and ethical businesses conduct. Implementing ESG reporting in a responsible manner can help companies to differentiate from its competitors and enhance a company ́s reputation and brand. Financial institutions and investors are increasingly incorporating social and environmental criteria into their assessment of investments and lending. Therefore companies that can demonstrate strong ESG performance may have preferential access to investment funds or to financing, or even receive preferential terms. Carrying out ESG reporting and implementing a responsible sustainability strategy can reveal opportunities for efficiencies and cost reductions and companies can realize improvements to staff recruitment, engagement and retention. Addressing environmental or community issues before they occur can reduce the probability of having to make more costly investments and can build trust and credibility that can support a company ́s reputation for delivering products or services while maintaining a strong environmental and social performance. ESG initiatives can support companies in building strong future business with strong relationship with governments, key stakeholders and communities and can fulfil requirements for non-financial reporting and disclosure of information for the market.

Examples of ESG reports will be introduce, where sustainability opportunities have been analysed and implemented in the core business, outcomes presented in a measurable manner and published as part of company ́s annual financial report.

Part 2 – Youth & Work – the 7th Société d’Impacte Sociétale in Luxembourg

Ariane Toepfer, Founder and Coach

Luxembourg has one of the highest rates of school drop-outs in Europe. Youth unemployment rate is at 14.2%. A usual pattern is that due to high numbers of repetitions young people then have to leave home without having completed school… The number of youth on the street is rising and poverty among young people under 25 years of age is a taboo topic. The founder of Youth & Work had first established one of the first successful communication and leadership consultancies in Luxembourg in the 1990s. But after second thought it became clear, there was another community out there who needed leadership skills through building improved reflexivity and self-management much more than the CEOs, directors and managers of already well-established and profitable firms…. This insight gave birth to the first concepts to develop Youth & Work. This enterprise has now been operating with an amazing track record of success over the last six years and has turned itself to one of the first SIS in the country. This lecture will compare diverse options for legal basis of this venture, the rationale of choice for the SIS, and plans how to service the additional reporting obligations.

Session 7. Sustainable Finance – Creating Outperformance

Hakan Lucius, The European Investment Bank

How does investing in sustainability actually pay off? Does sustainability change the behavior of corporations and of financial actors? We shall review the current state of the world in terms of its environmental limits, reaching from climate change to biodiversity, making the link to the type of technologies currently used. The case is made that no country which enjoys high standards of living appears to be living within its environmental limits. Given forecast rapid population growth and the legitimate drive to raise standards of living for all, the need for technological change and innovation is fundamental. The traditional approach to innovation and competitive advantages is analyzed and the necessity to integrate sustainability into strategies and financial decision making will be demonstrated. The integration of sustainability into the core business strategy of a corporation is becoming a determining factor for future competitive advantage. Furthermore, the key challenge in measuring environmental and social performance is highlighted and current developments and solutions will be presented. In class, we shall also work on a case and apply such a solution to a concrete investment decision. Participants will be able to implement learnings immediately on a real world case.

Session 8. Investing in communities: microfinance and the climate and forestry funds

Sustainability reporting and social impact assessment

Kaspar Wansleben, Luxembourg Microfinance and Development Fund (LMDF), Luxembourg Laura Fosci, ADA

Social enterprises and social purpose investment vehicles promise that entrepreneurial and often for-profit structures can positively address the social and ecological challenges of society. Yet economic activity is in practice strongly influenced by norms and comparison. For example financial reporting follows global norms allowing an educated reader to compare a balance sheet of a coal based electricity company in Brazil to a solar based renewable energy business in India. So what are the norms and references for impact measurement and social performance and how are these implemented in practice? The lecture will propose a framework and explore a concrete case: The Social Performance Report of the Luxembourg Microfinance and Development Fund.

The session will start with a short overview of the forestry fund.

Participants will have the opportunity to work on a concrete case study, with one half of the class answering key questions on a social rating report, and the other half of the class analyzing a financial rating report of one and the same micro-finance institution. The results of this analysis will be discussed and the most important points, also concerning possible trade-offs and evolutions over time etc, will be compiled.

Session 9. Concluding session

Peer Group project pitches

First each of the four peer group will present their work on one of the case study topics, highlighting strengths and weaknesses they found when applying insights from the course material to the case study and providing a list of recommendations on a new social enterprise that seeks to learn from and improve upon the existing case.

Each peer group presentation will be about 30 minutes, followed by 15 minutes discussion time. There will be one hour for synthesis and conclusion.

This session will be an open session.

Summer Semester Core course (6ECTS) – Science and Citizens meet challenge of Sustainability (SCCS)

The Certificate requires 20 ECTS that will be collected by completing 2 core courses (6 + 6 ECTS), 1 peer group project (4 ECTS) and/or 1 auxiliary course (4 ECTS). Peer group project is required for at least one semester.

Summer semester Core course (6 ECTS) – Science and Citizens meet Challenges of Sustainability

This course of 10 sessions provides tools for better understanding and acting in the face of complexity and interdependencies of the natural and social world. The three dimensions of learning of the first course remain central themes across all units:

  1. How we know, why do we accept?
  2. How can we better take account of diverging interests and expertise?
  3. Local and global interconnectedness, interdependencies and inequalities and tensions

Session 1. Sustainability challenges in the 21st century: How can we tackle them here in this course?

Part 1 – Setting the scene for the course, course design and objectives

Dr Ariane König, Senior Researcher, University of Luxembourg

In this first session, we will discuss changing roles of science and citizen’s in fostering systemic change for sustainability. In this lecture we will first define the meaning of sustainability in the context of the goals of this course and provide an overview on core themes and all the lectures to come in this semester. The challenges are where humans meet with their environment and with each other in institutional settings and in the built environment that favor certain types of actions over other, often not taking sustainability challenges into account. Moreover, science, the economy and governments are organised in sectors, yet the real challenges of the 21st century transcend sectors and highlight interdependencies between sectors that we find hard to recognize and deal within our current system.

In this course, we will ask: ’Why science and how each and everyone of us produces knowledge, how might we all contribute to the problem and how might we become more effectively a part of the solutions? How can we get better at anticipating what solutions might work and which solutions might exasperate negative impacts? Why do we need ‘sustainability science’ and what does it look like? We will also critically discuss the role of measurement regimes to assess societal transformations, and social learning processes to change social practices in the face of serious systemic constraints. Last, but not least, we will explore how science and citizens can meaningfully engage in such change processes.

Part 2 – Sustainability – what does tin the meaning of this word in the here and now?

Work in break out groups on describing a sustainable society, and what changes are required in Luxembourg.

Part 3 – Break-out groups presenting back, synthesis and conclusions (30 min)

Session 2. Contemporary problems of science and their implications for sustainability science and education

Dr Ariane König, Senior Researcher, University of Luxembourg

Part 1. What is science and what are its contemporary problems?

In this lecture we will juxta-pose competing conceptions of science, technology, knowledge and their relation to progress to ask — what is ‘quality’ in science? What are science’s contemporary problems in the information age and in the face of populism? What are challenges of quality control.

Part 2. Citizen Science: What potential does it have as a tool for good governance in our networked knowledge society?

How might we leverage the potential of the networked knowledge society for transforming knowledge production and social practice for sustainability? In this interactive session we will explore innovative tools and processes of citizen science. Its founding fathers take an empiricist view of the world, but also try to enrich the web with functions that help building communities across differences to counter the prevalence of individualizing algorithms on the web. 

Session 3. Transformative and social learning for sustainability

Part 1 – Theory of knowledge in the IB programme

Dr Dorothée Prendergast, International School Luxembourg

The ToK course provides students of the International Baccalaureate programme with an opportunity to explore and reflect on the nature of knowledge and the process of knowing. In Theory of Knowledge the students reflect on the knowledge, beliefs and opinions that they have built up from their years of academic studies and their lives outside the classroom. The Theory of Knowledge course plays a special role in the Diploma Programme by providing an opportunity for students to reflect on the nature, scope and limitations of knowledge and the process of knowing. The course is an opportunity for teachers and students to engage in interesting conversations that cross the boundaries of individual disciplines and that help students to reflect on the knowledge they have acquired from both their academic knowledge and their lives outside the classroom. Students are encouraged to examine the evidence for claims and to consider how we distinguish fact from opinion, and how we evaluate the credibility of claims that we are exposed to in the media. The Theory of Knowledge course places a great deal of emphasis on elements that are central to the development of international mindedness. It encourages students to avoid shallow and polarized thinking. Theory of knowledge challenges students to be intellectual risk-takers and to question what they hold to be true.

Part 2 – Embedding systemic thinking and transformative learning in the school curriculum in the SCHOOL FUTURES Project

Bo Raber & Joy Mertz

Session 4. Quantity and quality: Indicators to assess impacts and progress in sustainability transitions

Part 1 – The ecological footprint – A case study

Paula Hild, University of Luxembourg

The first systematic attempt to calculate the Ecological Footprint and biocapacity of nations began in 1997 (Wackernagel et al. 1997). Since 2003, the National Footprint Accounts are used to measure one main aspect of sustainability: how much biocapacity humans demand, and how much is available (Borucke et al. 2011). The presentation about the Ecological Footprint will highlight the calculation method behind this highly aggregated indicator, its merits in terms of communication and its limitations towards other sustainability aspects and environmental concerns. Luxembourg’s Ecological Footprint will be presented as a case study. 

Session 4 bis. Quantity and quality: Indicators to assess impacts and progress in sustainability transitions


Walter Rademacher, former Director General of EUROSTAT and Chief Statistician of the EU, now at the Sapienza University, Rome

The strength of the concept of sustainable development is at the same time its Achilles heel, namely its integrative view of social, economic and environmental issues and policies and, as a result, its complexity. The transition of a society from today’s way of life to a more sustainable one is a difficult manoeuvre, with politically risky change processes and transitions, at every level from the communal to the global. Which statistical information is suitable for these processes is for this reason an equally difficult endeavor, because it involves integrating the statistical-methodological aspects of quantification on the one hand and the aspects of the use and impact of indicators on the other into an overall framework. Such an approach of co-producing statistics and society is presented. In it, different statistical information has their place, depending on their quality profile and their suitability for different phases of the political life cycle. At the same time, as we move towards sustainable development, a learning process takes place in which the available quantitative information is gradually supplemented, improved and adapted to specific needs.

This will ensure that decisions are evidence-based, based on the best available information in each period. Such a learning and optimization process uses methods of modern quality management for products, because after all statistics are nothing else than that: products.

Session 5. Cognitive pitfalls in the face of complexity  

Part 1 – Cognitive pitfalls in the face of complexity

Philipp Sonnleitner, University of Luxembourg

When facing problems of sustainability, people inevitably have to deal with a certain amount of complexity. Such problems are often dynamic and in-transparent, encompassing a large number of interconnected elements and various stakeholders following several, partly contradictory goals. However, a large body of research shows that even in simple problem situations human decision-making behavior is flawed by systematic thinking errors, inconsistencies, anchoring- or framing effects, and unconscious preferences, which lead to suboptimal decisions.

When dealing with complex problems like the sustainable water supply of a region, these thinking errors become aggravated by the human tendency to focus on narrow sub-problems and the inability to recognize dynamics within a system or to understand exponential growth. A first step to avoiding such thinking errors on the micro- as well as the macro level is being aware of the brain systems which underlie decision making, their way of functioning, and the resulting possible cognitive pitfalls. This lecture therefore focuses on the human cognitive architecture and the ability to deal with complexity in order to raise awareness of cognitive limitations and how to overcome them.

The lecture will be complemented by a preceding hands-on exercise in which participants can engage with a so-called serious, computer-based game they choose from a list of freely available programs. Their experiences during this process will be the starting point of a joint discussion of the role of emotions, limited capacity of the brain, and possible solutions and strategies to overcoming limitations of the human cognitive architecture in order to make sound, rational and–hopefully–sustainable decisions.

Part 2 – Systems thinking and cognition in complex human-environment systems: Considering feedbacks between what we think and see, and how act and do in designing for sustainability

Dr Ariane König, University of Luxembourg

The University of Luxemburg is currently adapting and further developing the collaborative conceptual systems mapping (CCM) method developed by Proust and Newell (2006) in two transdisciplinary research projects. The purpose is to develop the CCM method for its ability to create problem-oriented dialogue and shared priorities for action among a diverse set of stakeholders in spite of differences in interests, expertise, values and worldviews.

The two projects where the CCM method is being further developed are embedded in two different fields of practice – one project is concerned with future-oriented systems thinking in Luxembourg schools, the second project that is conducted in collaboration with two river partnerships is concerned with sustainable engagement with water and land. The lecture will first briefly outline the development of the CCM method and its theoretical underpinnings within the systems literature. Subsequently, some of the key lessons learned from applying the CCM method in different workshops in Luxemburg over the past 12 months will be shared. The main focus will include a critical reflection on the CCM method and its potential for creating problem-oriented dialogue across differences in order to identify leverage points for transformative learning. Of specific interest is whether the CCM method, which draws on practice- and place-based learning and experience, has the potential to direct dialogue and influence between the personal, social, technological and biological spheres in social-ecological-technological systems.

Implications for sustainability transformations include suggestions for adapting the CCM method to better enable stakeholders to dialogue, to create collaborative and place-based knowledge and to fuel transformative change in Luxemburg’s schools as well as water and land use nexus.

Session 6. Transforming foot systems for sustainability

Part 1 – Systemic analysis of the sustainability transition in Luxembourg’s foodscape. Methodological and the oretical framework.

Rachel Reckinger, Diane Kapgen, Helena Korjonen

Contemporary food systems in developed countries have proven to be largely unsustainable: apart from providing food security and food safety to their national populations, they entail considerable negative environmental and health externalities, fail to address rural poverty throughout the world and create and foster power imbalances in food chains, and social injustice on different levels (De Schutter, 2017). Given these facts, researching the transition processes towards a more sustainable food system and culture from a systemic approach by focusing on the involved actors from the four interdependent spheres of governance, production, diffusion and consumption as well as their potential optimisation is primordial.

This lecture discusses how such an approach allows for understanding the opportunities and challenges of processes of a sustainable food transition by sharing preliminary findings from a systemic analysis of Luxembourg’s transnational food system. We show how the food system can be envisioned as a dynamic multi-scalar and multi-sited foodscape by drawing from visual tools like infographics, and how these tools can contribute to increase the capacity to grasp and work with food system complexity.

We present the methodology and the theory allowing us to analyse the current state of the system (including interrelationships, pressure points, gaps, blockades and opportunities), and to elaborate potential pathways for optimization of different leverage points within the system.

Part 2 – PUBLIC LECTURE – How can agro-ecological transitions increase the resilience of rural areas?

Nicolas Dendoncker, Unviersity of Namur

Agroecology has been proposed as a promising concept to foster the resilience and sustainability of agroecosystems and rural territories. Agroecological practices are based on using and optimizing biodiversity and ecosystem services at the landscape, farm, and parcel scales. While solutions, in spite of being context dependant, are generally known, many lock-ins prevent the emergence of these innovative forms of farming.

In this presentation, we will highlight, summarize and categorize these lock- ins. We will then give examples of transition initiatives in Belgium and France, mixing research and action, that have been proposed to overcome (some of) these lock-ins. In particular, we will detail the initiative of TERA (Tous Ensemble vers un Revenu d’Autonomie –, which proposes a systemic way of reenvisaging rural ecosystems, encouraging cooperation for sustainability. Finally, we will reflect on what we believe are necessary next steps for action-research to meet the challenges posed by pressing socio-environmental issues.

Part 3 – PUBLIC LECTURE – Experimenting with Complexity: transdisciplinary comparative co-production in Mistra Urban Futures

David Simon, Royal Holloway, University of London, and Director of Mistra Urban Futures 2014-19

Uniquely among international urban sustainability research centres, Mistra Urban Futures was built around formal partnerships among different urban institutions in various sectors in each of the cities around the world where it worked.

Moreover, a key part of its distinctiveness was methodological innovation with diverse forms of transdisciplinary co-production (TD CP) – taken to include co-design and co-creation. Initially this research was undertaken independently by

each city team but from 2016, the agenda evolved in two highly innovative dimensions, namely undertaking cross-city comparative urban research using TD CP and working across scales from the local to the global and vice versa. Hence evolving global sustainability agendas informed its work, while its comparative urban research directly engaged with and fed into the formulation and refinement of those agendas, especially the SDGs and New Urban Agenda. The lecture reflects on these experiences and the Centre’s key lessons and legacies.

Session 7. Transforming the economic system

Part 1 – Innovation in water management: what does the future hold?

Jeannot Schroeder & Paul Schosseler from the firm PositiveImpaKt

The circular economy is a buzz-word often used in the hope that this new way of organizing the economy holds the key to making our production and consumption more sustainable. This lecture will explore future potential challenges in reconciling economic growth and development plans with regional limitations to water supply in view of the potential the circular economy holds. Three different scenarios that shape different approaches to ‘going circular’ with different design logics for innovations and different roles for hybrid systems with humans, AI and infrastructures will help to better understand the interplay of the social, technological and environmental spheres in our dynamic and complex social-ecological-technological systems.

Session 8. Energy systems and futures

Part 1 – Energy consumption and generation – can we make a difference?

Philipp Dale, University of Luxembourg

Can we live in energy balance? Do you know how much energy you use personally every day? Do you know how many photovoltaic modules or fractions of a windturbine’s time is required to cover that use renewably? Does Luxembourg have the resources to go 100% renewable given its current population? It is easy to say we want renewable energy to power our lives, but have we checked if it is physically possible. We will answer these questions during the talk. In order to do so, we will discuss the concepts of energy and power, generation and consumption. To facilitate this discussion and to make it more fun, we need data…and I invite you to carry out an energy audit of your own life. I would be very happy if you would send me this data several days before the talk, and I would present it anonymously next to my own during the talk.

Please could you send to as much of the following information as possible:

  • Your electricity use in a given time and how many people this might involve
  • Your oil/gas use for heating in a given time and how many people this might involve
  • The kilometers that you drive or the amount of money that you spend on fuel per unit of time. Other transport, planes, trains, including holidays as well as the distance travelled
  • Your eating choices
  • Whether you have pets?
  • Anything else you can think of in a quantifiable way?

Part 2 – PUBLIC LECTURE – How can organisations use scenarios to deal with sustainability?

Ciaran McGinley, NormannPartners & Oxford Scenarios Programme

As the 17 UN Sustainability Goals demonstrate, sustainability is a vast and complex subject. But how do institutions and corporations deal with these challenges? Is the reaction one of “can do” or is it more one of impotence? Do they look at sustainability as a series of risks, or opportunities? And how do they deal with the interdependencies that are all pervasive in the world of sustainability? What role can scenario analysis play? This lecture, inspired from the world of practice, takes a glimpse at organisational behaviours that drive the way in which we deal with the multiple challenges posed by sustainability.

Session 9. Saturday workshop

Part 1 – Future-oriented systems thinking to understand challenges at the water-food-energy-nexus

This workshop provides the opportunity of a hands on practice of exploring sustainability challenges at the food water energy nexus collaboratively in a future-oriented manner using a set of scenarios for how we engage with water and food in the year 2045. There will be the possibility of developing a concrete project proposal.

Session 10. A visit to Centre HOLLENFELLS AND PEER GROUP PRESENTATIONS & DINNER Futures for education and peer group presentation

Michel Grevis, Head of Center SNJ Hollenfels, Luxembourg

Part 1 – Presentations for peer-groups on key insights drawn in their unit in the context of the course

Presentation on the future of education as conceived in the Luxembourg SCHOOL FUTURES Project. Presentation by the peer group.

Wrap-up discussion – All in the learning community

Part 2 – Education in Sustainability in Luxembourg at Centre Hollenfells – Mechel Grevis, the “Châtelain”, Head of SNJ Hollenfels.

Concluding debate on main conclusions to be included in conclusion section of the community course report.

Part 3 – Dinner in the castle


Ilan Chabay, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), Potsdam Germany

Designing for sustainable futures under uncertain and constantly changing conditions requires the democratic, informed participation of all ages and sectors of society – from business executives to restaurant workers, from academic researchers to government ministers. Simply providing information and expert opinions has been clearly shown to be ineffective in building needed capacity for decision making and commitment to change.

However, games in electronic and physical forms can engage people of all ages and sectors of society in important individual and group experiences relevant to their sustainable futures. A growing number of innovative games explore the core ideas needed to make sense and take informed actions in the complex social-ecological systems in which we all live. I will outline the essential characteristics of games used for this purpose in different cultures and contexts and illustrate them with a few examples, including the low-tech Frozen Bubble Box, the augmented reality Kreyon City LEGO game, and the Expedition N energy demand game.

Auxiliary course 1 (4 ECTS) : ‘Global Environmental Change in the Anthropocene’

From :   October to December
Lecturer :
Course description :

This course provides an overview on global environmental change.  The course considers humankind as an integral part of the biosphere, and the industrial metabolism and land-use changes as a main drivers of global change in the 21st century.  It provides a basic understanding on system dynamics in complex social-ecological systems, as well as focusing on more sectoral issues looking at oceans and rivers and land-use change.   Recurring themes across all sessions include challenges to making evidence-based policies and the role of science.  The course provides a platform for critical discussion of relevant overarching EU policies.

Learning outcomes :
On completion of the module a student should be expected to be able to:

  • Understand the relation between human activities and natural processes determining the quality of the environment (incl. the political and management dimension).
  • Apply concepts of risk, vulnerability, adaptation and mitigation in analyzing policies relating to global environmental change.
  • Understand merits and limitations, and potential of abuse  of scientific observation and assessment and representation methods and associated uncertainties
  • Make judgments on the quality of science underlying evidence-based policies.
  • Apply the concept of ecosystem services for taking environmental change into account in spatial planning policies.
  • Evaluate EU and Luxembourg spatial planning and environmental policy recommendations.

Auxiliary course 2  (4 ECTS) :   ‘Sustainability reporting based on the Global Reporting Initiative’

From :   October  to   December
Lecturer : Viktoria Valdimarsdottir
Course description :
This course provides knowledge and skills to develop and assess Sustainability Reports for public and private sector organizations.   Since 2014 the European Directive on Non financial reporting mandates all organizations above 500 employees to be accountable for social and environmental impacts as well as for their financial performance.  The  sustainability Reporting presents an internationally accepted reporting framework to assess and evaluate such impacts.  This course provides basic insights on reporting practices and procedures in enterprises in different sectors in Luxembourg.


Course introduction and other specific courses will be given by Course Director Dr Ariane König, in collaboration with experts. (Lien vers le “CV” de Ariane Koening sur la page Sustainability )

Lecturers are usually drawn from the following organizations:

Banque Caisse d’Epargne de l’Etat, Eurostat, European Investment Fund, Harvard, the Impactory, Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), Ministère du Développement durable et des Infrastructures, Massachussetts Institute of

Technology, Novatlantis (Sustainability at the ETH Domain), STATEC, the Universities of Liège, Namur, Oxford, Trier and Luxembourg.

Peer group project  (4 ECTS)

Peer groups are an experimental field for bridging the gap between academic literature and theory encountered in the course and practical problems of salience to Luxembourg (uncertain, unique, situated, and conflictual).  Peer groups also allow to practice engaging in social learning process in small and very diverse group.

The peer group projects will run over the entire year (winter and summer semester) in order to allow to gain a deeper understanding of a complex problem and possibly to produce deliverables of interest to third parties. Prior experience suggests one semester is too short to achieve these goals.  However, it is possible to engage in a peer group project only for one semester and gain 4 ECTS, provided an auxiliary course is taken instead of a second semester in a peer group project.

Overarching objectives for all peer groups are to develop recommendations as a group on a particular topic leading to concrete actions and more general strategies for transition to a more sustainable society.

Know more about peer group projects and evaluation >(page Peer group projects)
Peer group choice > (pdf to download)


Course introduction and other specific courses will be given by Course Director Dr Ariane König, in collaboration with experts. (Lien vers le “CV” de Ariane Koening sur la page Sustainability )

Lecturers are usually drawn from the following organizations: Banque Caisse d’Epargne de l’Etat, Eurostat, European Investment Fund, Harvard, the Impactory, Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), Ministère du Développement durable et des Infrastructures, Massachussetts Institute ofTechnology, Novatlantis (Sustainability at the ETH Domain), STATEC, the Universities of Liège, Namur,Oxford, Trier and Luxembourg.

Workload and Evaluation

As the Certificate is a part time study programme, you can choose to distribute your workload over more than one year.  In case, you are concerned about the workload of completing the Certificate with core courses and peer group work in parallel in one year,

you may choose to follow core courses in the first year, and sign up to peer group work and/or auxiliary courses in the second year.



final report

Admission and enrolment

The main prerequisites are fluency in the English language and a strong motivation to engage professionally and or personally to foster societal transformation for sustainability. The selection criteria are specified in the guide for applicants.

Candidates are selected upon submission of a letter of motivation of about one page and CV. They can then enroll online following instructions on our University application website.