The Role of Students in the Co-creation of Transformational Knowledge and Sustainability Experiments: Experiences from Sweden, Japan and the USA

Part of the World Sustainability Series book series (WSUSE)


Accompanying realisations that engagement of multiple societal sectors (academia, industry, government, citizenry) and disciplines is required for formulating effective responses to complex sustainability challenges, calls for new forms of knowledge production are increasing in magnitude, both inside and outside the university. In parallel, experiences from the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development have highlighted that collaborations with societal stakeholders and experiential approaches are desirable for effective sustainability education. This article examines activities at three institutions—Lund University, Oberlin College and the University of Tokyo—to identify potential models for integrating students into the co-creation of transformational knowledge and sustainability experiments with faculty and multiple stakeholders. We examine the types of outputs that can ensue differing participation models, whilst also considering their impact on university and stakeholder efforts to advance societal sustainability. We argue that transformational sustainability partnerships integrating students can foster the alignment of the three university missions of education, research and community engagement with place-specific needs and sustainability challenges. Accordingly, efforts to promote experiential forms of sustainability education with societal stakeholders should refrain from focusing uniquely on education and encourage synergistic linking of all university missions.


Sustainability education University partnerships Students Sustainability co-creation Stakeholder collaboration Transformational knowledge 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of International Development, Community and EnvironmentClark UniversityWorcesterUSA
  2. 2.Graduate School of Frontier SciencesUniversity of TokyoKashiwanoha, ChibaJapan
  3. 3.Environmental Studies ProgramOberlin CollegeOberlinUSA
  4. 4.International Institute for Industrial Environmental EconomicsLund UniversityLundSweden
  5. 5.Department of Urban EngineeringUniversity of TokyoTokyoJapan
  6. 6.Graduate School of Public PolicyUniversity of TokyoTokyoJapan
  7. 7.Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public PolicyUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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