Educational Research

Curriculum Reform for Sustainability in Higher Education

The Global Classroom project is a teaching and research project, funded by Stiftung Mercator. It included two cohorts of students as well as 18 instructors Leuphana University and Arizona State University. Mainly the search is conducted by Dr. Guido Caniglia, Beatrice John, and Leonie Bellina.

The goals of the research in this project are a transferable model curriculum, a variety of resources for implementing such a “Global Classroom Curriculum” and support the innovation process for new settings in many different teaching contexts. It also seeks to contribute interdisciplinarily to areas of sustainability in higher education, learning studies, competency research, and learning technologies. The qualitative research accompanied the teaching from the beginning. Since June 2015, the research team is analyzing data from formative and summative assessments, evaluation tests, and group interviews in order to get a better understanding of how to innovate and redesign curricula for sustainability in higher education.


Research focus areas

In three research areas innovation and redesign of curricula are being addressed:

  • The Curriculum Development evolves around the learning areas and practical planning of these areas.

  • The Teachinglearning environment deals with the operationalization of settings and formats aligned with the curriculum in global and local settings, facilitated by digital learning.

  • The environment encompasses the experiencebased learning that highlights the relation between local and virtual environment.

Curriculum Reform and Development

In order to be able to address global sustainability challenges in their manifestations in different local contexts, students have to: (1) critically and creatively understand those challenges and their solutions; (2) be able to take action to move towards solutions; and (3) cultivate an inclusive and positive mindset that enables them to overcome difficulties and collaborate across cultural, social, and disciplinary differences.

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Raster: Text Teaching and Learning

Innovations in Teaching and Learning Environment

Digital learning, virtual settings, online collaboration play an important role for intercultural and interdisciplinary settings in sustainability education. In the Global Classroom, we conceptualized a teaching and learning environment that utilizes the virtuality in a meaningful way, efficiently transmitting the curriculum and respective competencies.

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Transfer of the Global Classroom

From the Global Classroom experiment, Leuphana University and Arizona State University created a new, dualdegree Masters Program: Global Sustainability Science, which started with the fall semester 2015.

The main goal of the Global Classroom was to develop a model curriculum that could be transferred to other programs and educational contexts, and adapted to different scales. Instructors and administrators can apply the Global Classroom curriculum to:

  • different types of programs (from undergraduate to master and PhD programs);
  • different topics in sustainability (e.g. urban sustainability, conservation, energy);
  • study programs that wish to add a sustainability perspective into their curricula (from civil engineering to public health)
  • more generally programs dealing with realworld problems (from international development to public health).
  • The curriculum can also be applied on different scales, from a single class to an entire program:

Different products support you in creating this type of educational experience:

  • A Resource Book for Curriculum Development: A practice-oriented, step-by-step, how-to guide to curriculum development from envisioning to designing, and implementing new curricula
  • An online repository with class activities and assignments for a Global Classroom curriculum
  • Academic publications: on the curriculum concept, on the Experiencebased Learning Framework, on collaborative competencies for sustainability professionals, on research in international educational settings, and on institutional change
  • Training modules for teachers, instructors and administrators who want to design new curricula


Global Classroom
Universitätsallee 1, 21335 Lüneburg

For consultancy

Dr. Guido Caniglia:
Beatrice John:
Leonie Bellina: