Innovation challenges: developing sustainability competencies through experiential learning

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Other


We live in a world of social, environmental and economic crises. Catastrophic bushfires, a pandemic, and tensions over racial injustice -- among other challenges -- have shaken our societies in the past few years. Sustainable development offers a vision, pathway and framework to address these problems and build a more inclusive future. However, Seatter and Ceulemans (2017) note a common problem in teaching this vast field: “Students can be left without real insight, commitment or a sense of their position regarding meaning, beliefs and action related to sustainability” (p. 2). This chapter describes the development and iterative improvement of one postgraduate coursework unit at Monash University, Processes to Influence Change, which seeks to address this challenge head-on by offering a practical, action-oriented learning experience. Our unit takes learners on a collaborative journey through an overarching real-world case study. Along the way, we aim to overturn common biases held by sustainability learners, expand their view of what is possible in creatively influencing change, and sharpen industry-relevant skills in collaboration, innovation and acting in the face of uncertainty. Learners practice applying a transferable theoretical approach and using diverse skills to address complex real-world problems. This illustrative narrative will explain our development approach and reveal practical methods to create deep, applied, in-class experiences, and share the story of our production of a suite of SDG-linked tools which support learner ideation, innovation, and creativity for sustainable development problem-solving.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationKey Competencies
Subtitle of host publicationPractical Approaches to Teaching Sustainability
EditorsIra Feldman
Place of PublicationUSA
PublisherSustainability Curriculum Consortium and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9780578280813
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Sustainability learners
  • development approach
  • problem solving
  • learner competencies
  • innovation challenge
  • simulations
  • creativity

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