Challenge Lab – Learning by Engaging in Society’s Sustainability Transitions
Paper in proceeding, 2017

The United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals devotes goal 4 specifically to education, but sustainable development is altogether a large societal learning process. Education with its institutions therefore have a key role to play. The different aspects of this role are discussed within education for sustainable development (ESD) and several interesting examples of real-world ESD learning initiatives have been developed and realized. Yet, they are rarely evaluated in depth to understand why, how and what kind of learning that occurs. In this paper, Challenge Lab (C-Lab) is analysed, where students are provided support and space to engage with complex real-world sustainability challenges in society. The results indicate that C-Lab is in line with the ESD ambition, but is more explicit on: perspective awareness, experimentation, leadership and the unique role students can play in society’s transition. The results also indicate that C-Lab relates to education and learning concepts of expansion, dialogue, values, authenticity, scaffolding, reflection. The backcasting process used at C-Lab gives the expansion a direction toward sustainability, which is also the ambition of ESD.


John Holmberg

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Physical Resource Theory

Johan Larsson

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Physical Resource Theory

10th International Conference on Researching Work and Learning, 6-8 December 2017 Rhodes University, Grahamstown South Africa

Areas of Advance

Information and Communication Technology

Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (SO 2010-2017, EI 2018-)


Building Futures (2010-2018)



Life Science Engineering (2010-2018)

Materials Science

Subject Categories

Educational Sciences

Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Innovation and entrepreneurship

Learning and teaching

Pedagogical work

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