Between July 2016 and August 2017, the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna and the University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg lead the piloting of a number of courses or whole modules as proposed in the CASE master program. During this phase, the partners from the different regions of the CASE project tested and evaluated innovative courses that address topics and methods important to foster competencies for sustainability-driven entrepreneurship.

In the pilot phase, a strong focus was on testing different cooperation formats between higher education institutions and practice partners as well as innovative methods for transdisciplinary teaching and learning with a particular focus on sustainability-driven entrepreneurship. In total, the case partners piloted 21 courses, all containing a cooperation between students, university and practice partners.

The evaluation gathered data from students, teachers, and cooperation partners by way of focus groups, qualitative interviews or questionnaires. The data analysis investigated success factors of the methods and formats as well as the experiences and benefits gained by students and cooperation partners in terms of learning and other outcomes. During this process, nine different cooperation formats with a high potential to foster competencies for sustainability-driven entrepreneurship were identified and documented by the CASE partners.
Overview – Number of courses evaluated and respondents for each group
No. of courses evaluatedTotal respondentsStudent responses (focus groups & questionnaire)Teacher responses (qualitative interviews & questionnaire)Partner responses (qualitative interviews & questionnaire)
Click at each pilot region and find out more about the collaboration formats tested.

The region Vienna
Vienna is the capital and the cultural, economic, and political centre of Austria. The Vienna region also includes the states of Lower Austria and Burgenland. Vienna has a total population of about 1.8 million (October 2014; whole Vienna region 3.6 million) and is growing rapidly.
Vienna is characterized by a strong economy that draws its strengths from high productivity and a highly qualified work force in combination with low wage costs per unit of output. In 2011, the regional GDP reached 45,600 EUR per inhabitant. Most employees work in the tertiary sector (84.4%), while 15.1% work in the industrial sector and 0.5% in the agricultural sector. Vienna is known world-wide for its local welfare state, socio-economic homogenization, and a high quality of life, accompanied by a lack of socio-spatial polarization. Over the last 20 years, internationalization has changed the city. While manufacturing declined substantially, services in general and finance and real estate in particular increased their share in the local economy. Local economic policies have supported high-tech sectors and cluster formation (bio-tech, IT etc.). Within the City of Vienna, however, there has been increased socio-spatial polarization, due to increased rents and rising unemployment (11.6% in 2014). As for higher education, there are numerous institutions of higher education which offer a broad range of study options, with a total of 189,877 registered students in 2013/2014. In Vienna and Lower Austria, there are ten universities and six private universities. There are also nine universities of applied science, five university colleges of teacher education, the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, and the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST) in the region.
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The Pilots
In Vienna a set of innovative courses are developed, tested and evaluated.

Touch Down

VIDEO about the Touch Down Event of the Sustainability Challenge (in German).

Sustainability Challenge

One of them is a new edition of the “Sustainability Challenge“ being an inter- and transdisciplinary university course on sustainable development in cooperation with four Viennese universities. The initiative educates leaders of tomorrow through service learning projects and encourages students to develop their own business solution together with business partners.

Find out more about the Sustainability Challenge

Change-Management: Shaping a sustainable world by innovation, participation and leadership

In this course students had a look into key elements and concepts of change management in society and business. Guest lecturers from business, NGOs and other Universities created an atmosphere of exchange, discussion and learning. The students’ projects illustrated a variety of change processes – individual ones, focused on personality as well as public, participatory events like the “Courage in the City Walk”.

Find out more about the course Change-Management

Touch Down

ECN TryOut final event.


For six weeks, four student teams had the chance to work within a start-up. This special form of an internship with hands-on approach was designed and realised by the inter-university Entrepreneurship Centre Network (ECN). Experiencing life in a young company was a unique and inspiring moment for the students. A colorful variety of start-ups hosted the TryOut: Neuschnee, Wohnwagon, Topfreisen and DirectSens.


Students learn to implement instruments and methods that help in discovering, evaluating and realising technology-oriented, explorative business ideas. They have the possibility to bring in their own business ideas and are supported in each step by the course instructors and by external mentors, with the goal of transforming an initially rough idea into a convincing businessconcept. At the end of the term the students’ start-up-teams present their business ideas in front of potential investors and other experts. Interdisciplinary teams from three different Austrian universities allow – similar to real start-up situations – various perspectives, skills and competencies to shape the business idea and implementation. Read more about the Garage course

Service Learning in Seep Program

In this course students develop and implement a service learning project dealing with a particular sustainability challenge in the greater realm of a socio-ecological transformation. Students not only learn from the experience of the service alone, but by reflection on and creating meaning from the experience. Real-life experience in an transdisciplinary environment and students involvement in the regional community contribute to individual personality development, Communication and group skills, complexity awareness, problem analysis, critical thinking and cognitive development.

Find out more about service learning in the Seep program

Watch a video about successful Seep service learning project

The region Oldenburger Münsterland, Vechta
The Oldenburger Münsterland is centrally located in northwestern Germany in the metropolitan region Bremen/Oldenburg and consists of the two counties Vechta and Cloppenburg. It is a rural area with a low population density (ca. 150 persons/km2).
The Oldenburger Münsterland is an agricultural region and has the highest density of processing companies for poultry, pig, and cattle farms (intensive livestock farming) in Germany. In addition, the regional fruit and vegetable production is an important economic factor. Since the 1990s the Oldenburger Münsterland has developed into a boom region of Lower Saxony. The main lines of industry are food and luxury foodstuffs and plastic processing. Mechanical engineering and plant manufacturing in the sector of agriculture and construction are further key industries. Medium-sized businesses with a high performance flexibility and staff identification are the dominating company structure. About 290,000 people are now resident in the Oldenburger Münsterland with sharply increasing tendencies due to immigration of people with German roots from Eastern Europe and a steadily increasing birth rate. The unemployment rate is lower than the national average. Demographic change, shortage of specialists in rural areas, an inflow of guest and migrant workers, increasing youth unemployment are among the future challenges. The University of Vechta is the only public higher education institution in the Oldenburger Münsterland with 4,500 students and a limited range of courses (teacher education, social work, gerontology etc.). Furthermore, a small private Technical College for Economics and Technology is located in Vechta.
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The Pilots
In Vechta a set of innovative courses are developed, tested and evaluated.

Outside the University Box – Participatory research with people of the region

Excursion to Science Shop in Groningen © Gröneweg

The course addresses essential approaches and concepts of transdisciplinarity, Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) as well as participatory research (e.g. science shops, community-based research). Local actors present their current challenges and students are collaborating in teams to apply the theoretical knowledge and to solve the challenges. The cooperation involved three partners: the city administration, a local food entrepreneur (start-up company) and a municipal institution for elderly people and intense nursing.  

Sustainable Development in the Oldenburger Münsterland: solving problems with innovative projects

This course focused on new ideas and strategies about how our society can live and organize itself in the light of social and environmental challenges. Following the idea of entrepreneurship learning, the course strengthened the cooperation with local actors and gave students the chance to develop a project as a local entrepreneurial change maker to enhance sustainability in the region.

Profiling internship – Inclusion

Based on inclusive pedagogy, this course enabled students to appreciate disabled people’s concerns and understand the mechanisms and frameworks needed to translate the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into practice. After having completed an internship in an institution with disabled persons, students reflected on theoretical aspects of inclusion and its pedagogical implications and worked out how to design inclusive settings for future work places.

Outdoor activities

Sustainable Communities

Sustainable communities is a course that navigates the discourse between strong and weak sustainability and community responses to it. Through a series of block seminars, students worked on a project that investigates community sustainability responses and visited an established German ecovillage, Lebensgarten in Steyerberg, for immersive learning in how ecovillages can be living laboratories of sustainability.

Find out more about the Vechta pilot

The region South Tyrol, Bolzano
South Tyrol is one of the two autonomous provinces that make up the autonomous region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. The province has a total population of 511,750 inhabitants (2011). Its capital is the City of Bolzano.
The economy of South Tyrol is characterized by a variety of sectors, from agriculture to industry to services, especially tourism. The mostly small-sized and professionally diversified enterprises confer a great stability to South Tyrol’s economy and offer many jobs, especially in the periphery. 69% of employed persons in South Tyrol work in the tertiary sector, 23% in the secondary sector, while 8% are employed in the primary sector. The number of persons employed in agriculture has dropped, the number of employees working in the services sector has increased. Economic understanding, the integration of foreign residents, the social responsibility of enterprises, and the fight against illegal employment are the major socio-economic challenges. South Tyrol is also lagging with respect to further and vocational training. Increased co-operation between schools and the economy is necessary. There is the Free University of Bolzano with five faculties and a total of 750 professors, lecturers, and associates and 3,500 students. The disciplines are connected to economics, natural sciences, technology, computer science, design and the social and educational worlds. The faculties are part of international networks.
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The Pilots

Students learn to produce, distribute and consume food good for us and for the rest of the world

In South Tyrol a set of innovative courses are developed, tested and evaluated.

Analysis of cultural and communicative processes

The course deals with the scientific analysis of current cultural and communicative processes. Along with classical and modern sociological theories current social, cultural and communicative change processes of our society (migration, globalization/localization, individualization, pluralization of life forms, digitization, etc.) are discussed and critically reflected. Students visited NGOs and had the chance to experience theoretical approaches with the help of practical examples and with regard to their practical relevance.

More detailed german description of the course


Pilot courses are tested from the Master in Eco-social Design

Teamwork is an essential component of most professional activities. This course is an introduction to teamwork skills for future social agents that will help students to improve their own work performance. It covers why teams are important, the roles of individuals in a team, systems and processes for effective teamwork and communication, and methods for addressing team conflict. Throughout the course, experts with different working experience are invited in order to allow students to get a very concrete insight into everyday working routines.

More detailed italien description of the course

The region Västra Götaland, Gothenburg
Västra Götaland („West Sweden“) is a region in the western part of Sweden. In December 2013, the region had 1.6 million inhabitants (17% of the population of Sweden). The largest population is found in Gothenburg (550,000 inhabitants).
The GDP for the region is 377 000 SEK per person (about 40,000 EUR). 88% of employees in the region work in SMEs. The unemployment rate is 5.9% and decreasing. Västra Götaland with its vast rural areas has intensive farming and forestry as well as several middle sized cities and many large industries such as SKF, Volvo, oil refineries, and cellulose industries. The port of Gothenburg is the largest port in Scandinavia, with more than 11,000 vessels per year carrying about 30% of the Swedish foreign trade in value and ca. 36% of the marine tonnage. The region is the home of Sweden’s largest cluster of companies with logistics and transport skills. With roots stretching back to the days of heavy industry, the region has made a successful transition from an industrial heartland to a greener and cleaner waterfront region. An uneven distribution of GDP and unemployment creates socio-economic challenges. The region has five universities with a total of 60,000 students. The University of Gothenburg is the largest with more than 30,000 students. Chalmers University of Technology has 10,000 students. Sustainable development and environmental issues are prominent research areas and many educational programs also deal with environmental and sustainability issues.
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The Pilots
In Gothenburg a set of innovative courses is tested, evaluated and further developed.

Meeting Sustainable Entrepreneurs at Ekocentrum Gothenburg

Methods for Practical Entrepreneurship

Assessing and evaluating ideas is a core activity for entrepreneurs. In this course, students interact with external idea providers to train their ability to identify, evaluate and explore the potential of new ideas.  In addition, students are provided with knowledge, methods and tools for handling these processes.

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Students discussing their sustainability-driven project

Sustainable Development – A case study approach

In this course, students from different disciplinary backgrounds perform a case study of how society is planning for sustainable development in a concrete local context in the Gothenburg region. Various challenges and opportunities for sustainable development are analyzed and evaluated in interaction with authorities and other societal actors.

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Sustainable Management

Sustainable Management is an elective course at the Master’s Programs, enabling students to sharpen their analysis skills in sustainable business. An important part of the course is the Sustainability Screening Case, giving students the opportunity to perform an in-depth study of the sustainability practices and performance of a medium to large-sized local company by analyzing important attributes of existing and plausible sustainable strategies.

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The region South Moravian Region, Brno
The South Moravian Region is located in the southeastern part of the Czech Republic near the border of Austria and Slovakia. It has a population of 1,169,000 inhabitants. The capital Brno with approximately 370,000 inhabitants is an important economic, administrative, and judicial centre. The advantage of the region is its excellent transport accessibility and strategic location at the crossroads of trans-European road and railway distance routes.
The South Moravian Region has a large economic potential. It hosts an increasing number of businesses in computer technology, telecommunications, software development, and other hi-tech industries. The engineering industry, centered in Brno, has an important role in the economy. The electronics industry is also strong. There are four major breweries in the region. South Moravian agriculture and viniculture are also important parts of the economy. There is a strong tradition of growing fruit and vegetables. The northern regions are important centres of forestry and wood production. As regards socio-economic challenges specific to the region, neoliberal government policies have led to a widening gap between the rich and the poor, with young people and women the worst affected. The tax base erodes as corporations become more adept at tax evasion, while small and medium-sized firms are plagued by excessive government regulation. An issue specific to South Moravia as a warm and dry region is the larger impact of climate change and long-term bad land management. In Brno, there is a number of public and state universities – Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno, Masaryk University, Mendel University in Brno, University of Defence, University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, and the University of Technology.
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The Pilots
In Brno a set of environmental courses are tested, evaluated and developed.

Studying Local Rural Systems

Jiri Novotny, excursion to farm Manner © Ludek Certik

Studying Local Rural Systems

This course provides insights and methodological training in studying local communities through the use of anthropological and social ecological field methods, and interpret the results within the framework of sustainability and development studies.

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Management of Rural Space

Human activity is presented and analyzed in the landscape with particular attention paid to agricultural activities. Students develop a model confronting the present industrial agriculture with existing or proposed alternatives, mainly with organic agriculture systems.

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Read about the excursion during the Pilot course

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Successful Environmental Project

Environmental projects, particularly related to the sharing economy and a community approach, have gained in popularity in big cities such as Brno, Prague, and Vienna. This course reflects this increased interest, having as a main aim to present successful environmental companies or projects to students by way of field trips.

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Ethical and local Economy

The course is designed especially for students who have a deeper interest in practical socio-ecological economic alternatives and already have attended a basic undergraduate or graduate course on economics in the environmental studies program. The course uses interactive methods based on student activities, presentations of guest speakers who have practical experience with grassroots eco-social initiatives and projects, and a case study of a selected community economic project or a description of an own potential project.

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