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This study aims to assess the effectiveness of active teaching methodologies, namely, problem-oriented learning and the case method, to develop sustainability competencies. It also analyses the advantages and challenges for teachers when implementing the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in eight undergraduate and postgraduate degrees within the framework of a cross-departmental collaboration.


A mixed research methodology was used: a quantitative study to assess the levels of acquisition of sustainability and research competencies and the potential correlation between them, as well as a mixed study of the advantages and challenges for the teachers participating in the cross-departmental initiative. Curriculum content linked to the SDGs was worked on. Active teaching methodologies and a competency assessment rubric were used as curriculum implementation strategies in the eight courses involved.


Active teaching methodologies are suitable to implement the SDGs in university teaching and to develop both sustainability and research competencies. A synergic effect is observed between them. Coordinated work between teachers of different subjects in several degrees contributes to developing a culture of sustainability at the university.

Research limitations/implications

Although the collaboration between teachers from different disciplines was successful, this study did not promote interdisciplinary projects among students from different degrees. This promises to be highly valuable for future research.

Practical implications

Students can become present and future leaders in achieving the SDGs. This approach can be replicated in other educational institutions.

Social implications

This study bridges the gap between theoretical recommendations and the practical implementation of the SDGs in undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.


Coordinated work between teachers of different subjects in different degrees contributes to the development of a culture of sustainability at the university.


International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 25 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370


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