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Summer School for Sustainability

Summer School for Sustainability

The Summer School for Sustainability is a chance to take action on sustainability and deepen your understanding of global challenges and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Join an international cohort of like-minded people for five inspirational weeks and get the chance to visit the beautiful city of Gothenburg.

The Summer School offers a programme of courses and activities to create synergy around sustainable solutions and encourage interdisciplinary collaboration.

The courses are open for students from our partner universities and for those who are eligible to apply for courses through the Swedish national system You find information about how and when to apply as an exchange student from our partner universities below.

You will be able to get accepted for one 7,5 credits (ECTS) course.

Information about application for 2024 will be posted here in late autumn 2023.

Students on the stairs. Summer School of Sustainability 2022
Photo: John Molander


Summer School for Sustainability is set in Gothenburg, a vibrant summer city on the west coast, and housed in one of our modern teaching complexes right in the city centre. Just a few paces away from the classroom you’ll find restaurants and pubs, shops, parks and entertainment. The Summer School building offers spacious and technologically equipped classrooms as well as areas for reading, group work and a self-catered café area with microwaves. Surrounding forest areas and the ocean is just a bike ride or tram ride away.


The courses offered are suitable for all levels and will focus on the issues relating to the Sustainable Development Goals. You will be taught by our experienced course leaders through an interactive, academic programme consisting of weekly lectures and seminars on contemporary sustainability issues to develop and inspire you. Through group work, assignments and field trips, you and your classmates will be able to hone your knowledge of sustainability challenges within your own academic discipline as well as gain the skills necessary to contribute to Agenda 2030.

All courses are at bachelor's level and taught in English.

You will receive a Transcript of Records when the course is completed.

The courses offered summer 2024 are:

Faculty of Science

This course will give a general introduction to biodiversity, its patterns and processes, and the reasons for its decline in recent history.

This will include:

  • how biodiversity is defined at different levels (molecular, species, ecosystem)
  • an introduction to common West Coast species
  • how biodiversity is coupled to our everyday lives (ecosystem services/ natures contributions to people)
  • an introduction to living and preserved collections and their value in research and society

It will further explore the threats to biodiversity, and how we understand these threats through eg. red listing and IUCN assessments.

The course will be given in connection with Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre partners and focus on both theoretical and practical work around both in situ and ex situ conservation efforts with examples from their organisations.


The course is linked to Global Goal number 14 (Life below water) and 15 (Life on land).

Faculty of Social Sciences: School of Public Administration

The challenges associated with migration and integration remain some of the most pressing facing European societies. The ongoing full-scale war in Ukraine has now resulted in the displacement of nearly fifteen million people. The legacy of the 2015 refugee “crisis” is still sharply visible in public discussions over how immigrant integration ought to be achieved, and continued concerns over the need for both skilled and unskilled labor from outside the European Union shape both policy and debates. 

Against this backdrop, the course provides students with an introduction to key cases of both migration and integration in Europe and details how the associated challenges and possibilities are problematized by migration scholars.  

In addition to seminars with migration scholars from the University of Gothenburg, course sessions will include presentations, discussions and workshops with a diverse group of international public servants, civil society staff, artists and researchers. The course is broadly interdisciplinary, and students will have the opportunity to explore how arts-based methods can inform their understanding of social science scholarship focusing on migration and integration.   The course meets for 6-8 hours per week and concludes with a course conference in which students present one part of their final exam project.  


The course supervisor and main instructor is Gregg Bucken-Knapp, Professor in the School of Public Administration at the University of Gothenburg. Prerequisites for this course: None, except for the general requirements regarding application. 

This course is linked to Global Goal number

  • 8.8 (Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment)
  • 10.7 (Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.)
  • 11 (Sustainable cities and communities)
  • 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions)

IT Faculty

The purpose of this course is to prepare students as self-aware, responsible agents of change in the world, such that you are able to apply critical thinking and a long-term systemic perspective to the plethora of development opportunities provided by digitization

We discuss sustainability and sustainable development concepts in class and relate them to climate change, world economics, systems thinking, and technological development. This builds the foundation for critically assessing the potential and risks of digitalization in a changing world - i.e. when new ideas come around, you will be able to judge them well. To make this very applicable in your future, we give you the option to conceptualize and develop prototypical IT systems that support sustainable development.
The emphasis is more on personal wellbeing and how that ties in with sustainability and current societal lifestyle than on the design and implementation of IT services.

The course is carried out via: 

  • Development of and reflection on a personal sustainability practice and what it means to live in a sustainable community. That means we try practices like yoga, meditation, walks in nature and reflect on the effects - yup, we have a well-qualified professor for that in IT, see below; 
  • Flipped classroom for introducing concepts. You will be watching a short documentary or reading a research article as preparation and then we discuss them in class and reflect on how to use these concepts in our work. 
  • A team project will be carried out in small teams over the extent of the course to apply all the new concepts (so you are comfortable at integrating your new sustainability knowledge into technology development), including requirements engineering and design. You can optionally work on prototyping an IT service or product to explore sustainable development.


The course responsible and main teacher is Associate Professor Birgit Penzenstadler, who has been researching the connection between technology and sustainability for a decade, and for the last three years integrated her yoga teacher practice into research to increase the wellbeing and resilience of developers and engineers. 

There may be further guest teachers 6-8 hr facetime per week.


This course is linked to Global Goals (health & wellbeing), 9 (innovation) and 11 (sustainable communities).

Faculty of Humanities

The pursuit of sustainability is both motivated and guided by concern for justice.  On one side, the pursuit of global sustainability is motivated by the recognition that it is unjust to live in a way that deprives others of the chance to flourish.   On the other side, the pursuit is guided by our answers to fundamental questions of justice.  What opportunities for flourishing does justice demand that we leave for others?  What burdens does justice permit us to impose on ourselves in order to preserve these opportunities?

This course will ask how conceptions of justice developed in different literary, philosophical and religious traditions might help to motivate and guide our pursuit of sustainability.  The course will have two points of concentration.  As a first matter, it will examine contemporary conceptions of justice, and ask how far they are suited to cultivating sustainability.  What do our dominant understandings of justice assume about humanity and the non-human world?  Do these assumptions help or hinder the pursuit of sustainability?

As a second matter, the course will examine how contemporary conceptions of justice might be enriched through wider literary, philosophical and religious depictions.  The course will probe the assumptions that inform the wide-ranging accounts of justice that appear in differing texts and traditions, with particular attention paid to assumptions that create space for ideas like generosity and self-sacrifice to appear as part of a picture of justice.

Prerequisites for this course: None, except for the general requirements regarding application.

The Global Goals of Agenda 2030: All seventeen global goals associated with Agenda 2030 are in some way connected to a conception of justice.  The topics covered in this course have a particular connection with goals 1-4 (the elimination of poverty and hunger; the provision of health and education for all); goals 5 and 10 (the promotion of gender equality and reduction of inequality); and goal 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions).

Faculty of Education

The course addresses how aspects of sustainable development can be taught in formal and informal educational settings to encourage greater awareness of sustainability issues. Multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives on the complex concept of sustainable development will be discussed from an educational perspective, in which teaching and learning will be problematised and informed by educational research from different perspectives. The course aims to increase student's ability to reflect on and centrally position, both as individuals and in subject groups, issues of sustainable development across all forms of education.

The course is oriented around three thematic strands:

  • Human activities and their impact on society and the environment
  • Social participation and the politics of engagement
  • Personal and curriculum values in relation to life on earth

The experiences and cultural backgrounds of the participants will be an integral part of all three strands.

Prerequisites for this course: None, except for the general requirements regarding application.

This course is linked to Global Goal number: 4 (Quality education), 3 (Good health and well-being), 10 (Reduced inequalities), 12 (Responsible consumption and production) and 13 (Climate action).

Students - selfie
Photo: Edwin Reed

Social and extra-curricular activities

The summer school is a fantastic opportunity to meet people from all over the world. Alongside your courses, you will be offered to take part in an extensive programme with guest lectures, interdisciplinary seminars, site visits, and practical workshops. Our social programme will include a welcome and farewell ceremony as well as day trips and social activities, allowing you to experience Swedish culture and sustainability initiatives. Aside from organised trips, a self-guide to Gothenburg will let you explore all that the city and surroundings have to offer in your own pace. Gothenburg is a great city to be a student and you will find a broad variety of eco-stores, vegan cafés and second hand shops to explore. The natural surroundings of the city can be easily reached by bike or tram, and offer great opportunities for hiking, paddling and other outdoor activities. And don't forget to try all Swedes favourite summer activity: swimming in the lakes and ocean.

General requirements

To be eligible to apply, you must be enrolled as a student on bachelor's or master's level at one of our partner universities and have successfully completed at least one semester at one of our partner universities at the time of application and during the Summer School. A CEFR B2 English proficiency level is expected, though no formal test is required.

Direct applicants are welcome to apply via the national application process. Please note: tuition fees apply if you are not a citizen of the EU and EEA, or a Swedish residence permit holder.

How to apply

To be able to apply you must be nominated from your home university. Contact the international coordinator at your home university to check if your university has signed a formal exchange agreement with the University of Gothenburg. If so, the coordinator will be able to nominate you during the nomination period. Please note that a nomination does not mean automatic enrollment.

Once the application deadline has passed, there will be a selection process and the students will be notified of the result. Selection is based on the number of nominations from each partner, total amount of ECTS, and academic backgrounds. We aim to achieve a balanced mix of students in each course.

Information about the application for 2024 will be posted here in late autumn 2023.

Tuition fee

The courses are free of charge for all students from our partner universities and for non-paying students from Swedish universities.

Please note that if you are a direct applicant coming to us from overseas or a fee-paying student already in Sweden, you will be obliged to pay tuition fee for the Summer School courses. Read more about tuition fees.


Self-catered accommodation is guaranteed in one of our centrally located student housing complexes. The housing area is within biking distance of the city centre and close to supermarkets, tram- and bus stops, and recreation areas.

Duvet, pillow and basic kitchen equipment is included in the rent, which is around 350 euros for the whole period. More information about housing will be sent to students when the application period for the summer school has closed.

Arrival and pick-up service

Details on arrival and pick-up service will be posted during the spring.

Students in the nature
Photo: Clara Lundberg
Logo Summer School for Sustainability

University of Gothenburg is at the forefront of sustainability work in teaching and research, and Gothenburg has been appointed the most sustainable city in the world for six years in a row by the Global Destination Sustainability Index.

Summer 2023 on Instagram

See what the students of summer 2023 experienced.

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Hear our students on the day of arrival

In the films below you can see interviews with three of the Summer School Students, during their first day in Gothenburg.

Video (2:58)
Abigail Kimmel from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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Pilar Sanchez-Teran
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Beata Biskupicova, Kolding Design School, Denmark