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Education of sustainable development goals through students’ active engagement: A transformative learning experience

Dario Cottafava (PhD Programme in Innovation for the Circular Economy, University of Torino, Department of Economics and Statistics “Cognetti de Martiis”, Torino, Italy)
Gabriela Cavaglià (UNESCO Chair, University of Torino UNESCO Chair, Torino, Italy)
Laura Corazza (Department of Management, University of Torino, Torino, Italy)

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal

ISSN: 2040-8021

Article publication date: 10 June 2019

Issue publication date: 9 July 2019




The purpose of this paper is to discuss and present new teaching techniques to advance the concept and the practice of education for sustainable development (SD). Due to the recently introduced 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and owing their interlinkages and targets, an evolution of the traditional teaching techniques is needed.


With the use of a single revelatory case study, this paper presents an example of education for SD goals activity carried out at the University of Torino, focussed on merging SD with the active engagement of students.


The empowerment of students happens through a transformative learning experience grounded in the acquisition of managerial soft skills useful in co-creating and co-designing projects to contribute towards SDGs effectively.

Practical implications

The ultimate goal is to support students to become active citizens in their communities (e.g. starting within the University).

Social implications

Students learnt about SDGs and the complexities of sustainability, and, at the same time, they learnt valuable tools to contribute to their transformation to develop projects for the benefit of local territories and organizations.


The paper showcases how transformative learning could be applied to SDGs. Awarded as one of the best practices regarding SD by the Italian Network of Universities for Sustainable Development, the case involves students in a transdisciplinary, creative and open learning environment.



Cottafava, D., Cavaglià, G. and Corazza, L. (2019), "Education of sustainable development goals through students’ active engagement: A transformative learning experience", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 521-544.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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