Psychology in the service of sustanability

Advanced Bachelor's / Master's degree course
Project A1-2


Although many options are available, individuals often choose not to act sustainably. Buidling on social and clinical psychological knowledge, this two-semester seminar qualifies and enables students to make changes of attitudes and behaviour happen. The combination of innovative teaching methods and a transdisciplinary setting have had a major share in the courses’ great success.

Nowadays, enough technological tools exist allowing for intelligent energy and water consumption, waste reduction, eco-friendly transportation and the like. However, the last ten years have witnessed that the mere availability of options doesn’t automatically mean that people choose to implement them. Knowledge on how to spark and catalyse respective behaviour changes on the micro-level is perhaps the most critical leverage for a sustainable future. This project developed a new teaching module focusing on exactly this question: how can sustainable behav-iour successfully be initiated, supported, and sustained?

Die Fotos wurden vom Projekt zur Verfügung gestellt.
RadioX (left), Quartier (right)
Long-standing research lines in psychology addressing critical steps towards behavioural change, including — but not limited to — the formation of attitudes, social norms, the role of incentives, social dilemmas, successful intervention strategies, self-regulation, or basic needs build the basis of the course. The collaboration between the social psychology and the clinical psychology and psychotherapy departments allows approaching the issue in an encompassing way.

The course uses innovative teaching methodologies – such as problem oriented learning and service learning – and borrows from intervention strategies in psychotherapy. It not only instructs students but also qualifies and enables them to initiate positive changes in practical project work they conduct on their own. While in the first semester knowledge is acquired by means of practical case studies, in the second semester the focus is on such transdisciplinary projects to apply and pass on the knowledge to citizens outside of the university.

“Psychology in the service of sustainability” has been very popular, attracting students from various fields and programmes. In addition to its multi-perspective approach and excellent innovative pedagogical concept, its development took great advantage of repeated delivering, evaluating and improving cycles.

Seminar "Psychologie im Dienste der Nachhaltigkeit"

Project leaders
  • Prof. Dr. Rainer Greifeneder
    Department of Psychology, Division of Social Psychology, University of Basel
  • Prof. Dr. Jens Gaab
    Department of Psychology, Division of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Basel
Addressed Sustainable Development Goal
Responsible Consumption and Production:
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
1.9.2013 - 31.8.2016

back to the list



Bleiben Sie informiert über die Aktivitäten des Programms.

Newsletter abonnieren

U Change
Haus der Akademien
Laupenstrasse 7
CH-3001 Bern

Tel. +41 (0)31 306 93 61