Introduction to personal sustainability science – Using research for personal development and a striving planet


About this course

Research related to sustainability usually focuses on external (especially biophysical) manifestations of unsustainability, and it overemphasizes solutions through socio-economic structures, governance dynamics, and technology change. Individuals and their subjective experience related to (un-)sustainability, such as their emotions, their drivers for and barriers to act sustainably, or their personal well-being, remain often neglected in this field of research. In contrast to this scientific focus, being confronted with and relating to (un-)sustainability is a highly personal process, being associated with strong emotional reactions (e.g., anxiety, guilt, but also hope etc.) and having an important impact on individuals’ well-being and willingness to engage with sustainability more generally. To date, learning to deal with these “inner worlds” is not part of formal educational programs related to sustainability.
In this course, students are introduced to personal sustainability science, i.e. the systematic inquiry of one’s subjective experience related to sustainability. Students learn how to apply first-personal research methods to systematically access, deepen, understand, deal with, and potentially alter their inner states and processes related to (un-)sustainability. The overall goal of this course is to build intrapersonal sustainability competence among students, that is, the ability to deal with inner states and processes in a conscious, self-determined way. Sustainability-related research as introduced in the course thus becomes a transformative practice that supports students in unfolding their agency for contributing to a striving planet.

Learning outcomes

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:

  • Theoretically explain the methodological and normative foundation of personal sustainability science.
  • Describe (based on personal experience) challenges of and inner capacities for personal change toward sustainability.
  • Independently apply basic first-personal research methods for data collection and data analysis.
  • Better observe, stay with, accept, or intentionally alter inner states and processes and cultivate a stronger sense of self-determination with regard to these states and processes.
  • Identify and activate intrapersonal competencies needed to live a life in line with one's intrinsic values and future vision.
  • Work with specific techniques and practices to independently continue and deepen the learning experiences obtained throughout the course.

Required prior knowledge

Assumed Knowledge:
No prior knowledge is required to participate in this seminar.

Link to more information

  • Credits
    ECTS 6
  • Level
  • Contact coordinator
  • Selection course
If anything remains unclear, please check the FAQ of Wageningen University.


  • Start date

    10 March 2025

    • Ends
      2 May 2025
    • Term *
      Period 5
    • Location
    • Instruction language
    • Register between
      1 Jun, 00:00 - 9 Feb 2025
These offerings are valid for students of Utrecht University