The difficulty with sustainability arises from its abstract nature and the fact that these problems have long term horizons. However, the seeds for sustainable development lie already in the lives of millions of people, if we just think that two important facets of sustainable development are:
urban transportation sustainability (measures and solutions able to tackle mobility challenges that lead to uncontrolled growth of vehicles and downgrading of quality of life) and
societal metabolism (models that facilitate the description of flows of material and energy within cities and provide a framework to study the interaction between human and natural systems).
Furthermore, sustainable development is among the grand challenges of the next decades. To come closer to achieving that state, the EU is committed to mainstream the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the European policy framework and current Commission priorities. Moreover, special attention is paid to the means for the achievement of the SDGs, their universal application to all countries and the simultaneous address of the economic, environmental and societal dimensions of sustainability. Thus, there is the need of not only raising awareness, but acquiring a sustainability literacy, in the sense of a functional education process that will provide the necessary skills and motives to cope and contribute with the challenges of sustainable development.
The difficulty with sustainability arises from its abstract nature and the fact that these problems have long term horizons. However, the seeds for sustainable development lie already in the lives of millions of people, if we just think that two important facets of sustainable development are urban transportation sustainability (measures and solutions able to tackle mobility challenges that lead to uncontrolled growth of vehicles and downgrading of quality of life) and societal metabolism (models that facilitate the description of flows of material and energy within cities and provide a framework to study the interaction between human and natural systems).
Already in these aspects lies the implication of a need to fully comprehend the long-term horizon of sustainability problems and its backward relation with the present (how the choice of a transportation means affects the future status of an urban system), as well as the need to translate complex notions into concrete ones (what is the impact of citizens’ consumption habits versus the implications to the local environment).
What is the purpose of SUSTAIN?
It is essential to provide an innovative pedagogy to students of higher education that will be the policy makers of tomorrow. In particular, their education should be exploring sustainability and the complexity among its different dimensions; moreover, it should provide the necessary means for the students to experience processes of complex decision making, sharpen, their clarity of thought, enhance their communication abilities and help them develop critical thinking as well as key competences to address the complexities of sustainable development. This type of education needs to become a process that moves towards being transformed into a more experiential and student-centered way of learning: thus helping students to constantly assess the environment, operating and adapting to it through processes of revision from their frames of reference and provide the appropriate materials to comprehend systemic complexity.
The objective of the SUSTAIN project is to commence and promote sustainable literacy among students of higher education (and young people in general) through an innovative and student-centered education. To achieve this objective, we have designed, developed and implemented a course to be taught in students of higher education; a course hybrid in nature, as it combines game-based learning with an analytical style of education. In detail:
Sustainable mobility interventions
Which goals does the SUSTAIN project target?
By Combining game-based learning with an analytical style of education, SUSTAIN created:
- an illustrative Simulation Environment that makes the definitions of various sustainability aspects more concrete and allows students to experiment in a consequence-free environment, with scenario examples.
- a Board Game, that allows students learning about urbansustainability in a socially relaxed interactive learning environment.
- a Management Course, dealing with various topics like transportation sustainability,societal metabolism, etc. as well aswith decision making under thosecontexts, at the same time formalizing the mathematics neededto makerobust decisions. The course was heavily based on theBoardGame and its scenarios.
The project is making an impact in three main areas:
– At the EU level, the project provides added value in the efforts of the EC to disseminate the principles of sustainability, while at the same time educatingthe future generation of policy makers to be better equipped to promote and achieve the SDGs. Furthermore, the project takes on the effort of attaining an enhanced education by using and incorporatingthe principles of game-based learning and IC Technologies.
– For the partners of the project, the impact takes the form of a strengthened cooperation and networking of different organizations among different European countries and with different scopes and experiences. At the same time, it strengthens the role of the participating partners in their respective areas, as the project brings cutting-edge research closer to students and citizens.
– Finally, for the students that participate in the project, the new course provides a more student-centered education that informs them on important EU and global issues, and at the same time helps them develop the key competences to deal with complex situations that they will have to face in the near future. The project brings them in touch with the work performed by the partners and connect them with other facets of the European culture.
- Output 1–E-book on societal metabolism. It describes the main definitions of societal metabolism and the formal theoretical models, their advantages and disadvantages and how the theoretical notions of flows of energy and material can be translated to elements of everyday life.You can download the files of the Intellectual Output 1 here:
- Output 2 – E-book on transportation sustainability. It contains basic notions and principles of sustainable urban mobility while covering topics as EU actions on supporting urban mobility, the modern approach on mobility planning and the value of participatory mobility planning. It aims to introduce and familiarize young people with sustainable mobility, show them the challenges, educate them on sustainable urban mobility planning and motivate them to become active agents of change.
You can download the files of the Intellectual Output 2 here:
- Output 3 – E-book on decision making in the context of sustainability. It provides the formal mathematics and foundations of decision making, especially in the context of sustainability, in order for students to understand how the theoretical mathematics of decision making are translated into actual decisions. Linear programming, DEA, PROMETHEE and AHP have been explained in detail.
You can download the files of the Intellectual Output 3 here:
- Output 4 – E-book on Simulation Models. It allows for experimentation in a consequence-free environment. The simulation models can be used to identify scenario examples on how we can (e.g.) achieve sustainable urban transportation and a balanced societal metabolism, while taking into account the formal decision-making process.
You can download the files of the Intellectual Output 4 here:
- Output 5 – E-book on the game design. The simulation models of O4 have then ultimately been transformed into game elements, mechanics and potential playing scenarios.
You can download the files of the Intellectual Output 5 here:
- Output 6 – The Board Game. (SUSTAIN Game’s instructions, SUSTAIN Game’s scenarios, SUSTAIN Game’s solutions) The final tangible output of the SUSTAIN project is the board game, along with the rule book on how to play it.
You can download the files of the Intellectual Output 6 here:
- We have also built a simulator to help you to explore how Urban Sustainability may be effectively managed.
But what about the board game?
A card-driven boardgame with five so-far realistic scenarios; a free and fully downloadable game at (link). Players are engaged in tough real life situations where the development and ultimate fate of their city is in their hands. The flourishment or downfall of their community depends solely on their decisions – each will be held accountable for their actions! The game rules are informative and easy enough – yet the realism and replayability of the game are high.How will the players unfold their strategy? Are they going to cooperate smoothly or compete in order to achieve diachronicsustainability?
Finally, the project is carried out transnationally because teaching students such an important issue requires the expertise of organizations that may be difficult to find concentrated in one country and secondly, it promotes to students the idea of cooperation for the achievement of a sustainable goal.
Τhe six partners that work together to achieve the above goals are:
- University of Macedonia (Greece)
- System Dynamics Italian Chapter (Italy)
- Centre for Research and Technology Hellas Certh (Greece)
- Centre for System Solutions (Poland)
- Ergo Ludo Editions (Italy)
- Asociatia “Societatea pentru Consum Responsabil” (Romania)
Every file is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.