Name and position of the participant and other supporting staff if relevant

Gabriella Kiss, PhD

Associate Professor

Name of the course and discipline, level and year of study and any useful background info.


Decision Techniques on Sustainability Issues

BA in International business, 1st year students, Sustainability module first elective course

Name of community partner and/or any other supporting partners (public or private sector)

Fridays For Future Hungary

Greenpeace Hungary

CERL project title(s)


20 days cselendzs – The beginner’s guide to going vegetarian

Fast fashion and it’s environmental impact

Veggies – excessive meat consumption

Tangible info – e.g. module descriptor, learning outcomes, assignments, assessment criteria, …


This course is an alternative to Decision Techniques (elective course), applied to specific decisions of sustainability issues. The course is recommended for students, who want to respond to the sustainability challenges of everyday life through an experiential problem-solving process.

 Learning outcome:

 Students will

  1. know the steps and tools of the problem-solving process; methods and techniques of decision preparation; methods of evaluation of decisions,
  2. be able to understand and solve complex problems considering several aspects including social and ecological perspectives, 
  3. have experience planning and implementing a sustainability project,
  4. be able to work independently and responsibly,
  5. experience the means of implementing a short group project; the mechanisms of group operation; individual and group feedback, reflection techniques, develop their problem-solving, communication and facilitation skills, and critical thinking of sustainability.

Learning activity

At the seminar, students form groups of 5-6 people and work together continuously throughout the semester. Topicwise the course is centered around sustainability – the groups will have to be formed around a theme relevant to the concept of sustainability. During the semester the groups go through a problem-solving process by first formulating the issue to a well-defined problem, then applying various decision-making techniques to design the action plan, and finally to carry-out the action and reflect on the insights, experiences gained. Each group uses the same techniques, but they apply them specifically to their own selected issues. The groups are required to write group diaries following the development of their project as they apply the various decision-making techniques. These diaries/reports help the members of the group gain an understanding of how they got to the point where they stand, and also reflect on the group dynamics taken place during the collective work.   

The course intends to familiarize students with professional attitudes and methods, which are applied by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the field of sustainability. Accordingly, CSOs are contacted and involved to share their knowledge and skills regarding how they approach and tackle various sustainability issues. Also, CSOs are invited to propose problems which can be approached by students – CSOs are mentoring student groups through their problem-solving and action creating steps. Finally, when the groups share their experiences and insights, the members of the CSOs are there to constructively give feedback regarding the work and results of the group.


 The process is evaluated continuously during the semester with assessment for learning.

 The assessment and the feedback of the teacher is based on the diaries/reports. The 8 reports include the results of the implementation of decision techniques of the problem-solving process, the reflection about these activities, desk research and group reflection (uploaded to Moodle 8×5 points).

 The result of the problem-solving process (solution, action) is evaluated at the end of the semester (15 points).

 There are 6 decision-techniques, and each technique will have a facilitator – each group member will be responsible for facilitating the respected technique for her/his team. The facilitators will have to be prepared to guide the group applying the given technique for their issue/problem (10 points).

 Groups are required to interview at least two knowledge-holders from the respected field (possibly CSO members) (2×5 points)

 In the phase of information gathering every student is required to watch a sustainability related documentary movie. They have to write a short reflection on the film, which is evaluated (10 points)

 Contribution, activity on seminars is evaluated by self-evaluation at the last seminar and additionally an individual reflection paper (1-2 pages) is prepared by every student after the course (in 1 week). (15 points)

 We provide detailed information on the tasks expected during the semester at the first seminar, the written work on-the-go feedback and facilitation through group consultation. The preparation for facilitation requires watching videos and ppts and appearing at consultations one time during the semester.

 The end-of-semester practical mark consists of several elements, these requirements must be completed in the period of diligence. The grade obtained is affected by the active participation in seminars, partial results of the midterm problem – solving process, action taken and reports reflecting on the group working process, as well as group facilitation.

How was it taught:

1.      number of students

2.      student groupwork or individual,

3.      how they worked with the partner,

4.      how the project proceeded,

5.      any reflection done with students,

6.      evaluation or formal assessment of their learning,

7.      Could or should we follow up with students?

8.      tech used

9.      Anything else interesting?

10.   For how long have you been teaching this course, and since when there is a community partner involved?

 1.      15 students

2.      They worked together in group on a topic they’ve chosen.

3.      The students worked with a member of the community partners

4.      The students learned about several decision-making techniques and adapted their learning to the topics they’ve chosen within the field sustainability issues, guided through the process by their community partner from FFF and Greenpeace. Throughout the semester the groups interacted several times with each other and their community partner member, to deepen their understanding of the topic, and to develop an action plan based on the decisions they’ve made.

5.      The student groups prepared a final presentation reflecting on their learnings from their implemented action plan, as well as individual reflection assignments about their personal learnings. Students also reflected on each other’s work during the presentations of their actions. The students and the community partners all filled the feedback form after the action plans were implemented and the learnings presented. Students wrote an individual reflection paper after the course about their experiences. They filled a follow-up questionnaire about the course.

6.      The partner was present when the students presented their group work at the closing of the course, and reflected live on the results. The groups got a formal evaluation and grade for their work from the educator, based on their groupwork and individual contribution:

Group score (differentiable within a group)                       [Total 65]

Mid-term group assignments and reflection diary:                         40 points (8X5)

Result of group problem solving (action and reflection):                15 points (10+5)

2 interviews with stakeholder/CSO member                                     10 points (2×5)

Individual Score                                                                                         [Total 35]

Seminar group facilitation (technique demonstration)                   10 points

Reflection on sustainability issue based on film,                                             10 points

Contribution, activity on seminars, individual reflection paper      15 points

 7.      It will be interesting a follow-up questionnaire after a year….

8.      Teams, Miro

9.      This was a fully online course at the time of pandemic. Students were really engaged in groupwork and interactivity in that situation.

10.   This is a new course in this format (english, elective, 1st year), but I have been experiencing in in a different format for 4 years. The focus of the course (sustainability) is newly involved in the title and the learning activities.

What did you CHANGE about your programme/course in relation to CERL during CIRCLET?  


1. I wanted to involve the partners into the feedback rounds of the action presentations as equal partners and for this they had to understand and use the technique I proposed.

2. The partner and the student group had to meet twice, and students had to write their experiences of these meetings.

3. New syllabus

CHALLENGES and how you overcame them?


The language of the course is English, and this could have been a problem for the partner. Considering this I chose the partners to be internationally embedded organizations, supposing this way speaking English wouldn’t be a problem. I discussed this with them at the beginning of the course, too. They could handle it, there was not a problem for them.

 What did your STUDENTS LEARN or how will they benefit?


 “For me working with an external partner made the course more valuable, especially because they were really helpful. I’m taking this positive experience with me to my future studies.

I think my students got a different perspective in sustainability. They learn about activism and climate challenges more deeply. In sustainability issues civil society has a key role and activism is more and more widespread in the age of 20s (ages of my students), and they get to know these activists and could have conversations with them.

What do you think the BENEFIT was TO THE PARTNER?

Do You have any feedback from the partner?


The partner’s response in the science shop feedback form:

“It was a pleasure to work with the students in this course, I hope there will be a chance again in the future. If the students stay so open to new things, they can achieve a lot of wonderful things!”

 Our students are an important basis for these organisations. Through these projects, they can have a connection with this important audience and could reach them with their messages in the field of sustainability.

HOW could/will you IMPROVE YOUR CERL teaching practice next time?

OFFLINE course – personal meetings instead of online

3 TANGIBLE PIECES OF ADVICE you would give to someone starting a CERL project with students?


1.      Detailed preparation,

2.      discussion with the partner, to understand the course

3.      Plan your time for COMMUNICATION, communication and communication

Any good, QUOTABLE FEEDBACK you received from students, partners, colleagues, family, etc.?

“All in all, I liked every minute of this course, and I did not regret to choose this as my elective. Going vegetarian during a course in the university will be a lifelong memory for me.”

“It was very interesting to talk to the partners from Fridays For Future, I think I could learn a lot from them as well. They gave us a deeper insight into the topic, and they highlighted aspects of sustainable meat consumption, which we did not even think about before talking to them, so the discussions with them were definitely beneficial.”

“To summarize, I can say that this was quite a life-changing course. I look at a lot of things differently, I am more conscious about what and how can we do for sustainability.”

“The cooperation with the partners in my opinion provided the course with a more serious background. Also, the partners were able to introduce us to the topics deeply. Moreover, whenever I was mentioning this project to my friends, it made it look more prestigious, that we were working with the partners, in our case Greenpeace.

To sum up, I am glad that I choose to take this course, as I was not only learning a lot about sustainability and how to make decisions, but also it had a huge effect on the way I live my life.”