SLU news

Sustainability Transformation and the Role of Higher Education Institutions

Published: 13 June 2023

The interest and actual practice of Living Labs in connection to campus development and roles of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in sustainability transformations is rising internationally; from communities of practice & best practice sharing initiatives to various conferences and actual initiatives on site. The Community of Practice concerning Living Lab work with its particular sub-group focussing on Campus as a Living Lab was present at the last International Sustainable Campus Network Conference (ISCN) in Mexico.

On June 6 2023, Michael Bossert, Concordia University, represented the researchers’ team, with Annika Herth, TU Delft and Nina Vogel, SLU Alnarp, and co-organized an interactive session on ‘Universities as Living Labs: Sustainability Transformation and Community Resilience’ . In collaboration with scholars from Stanford University and University of Cape Town he asked participants to join three conversations on a) Preparation/ Starting a Campus as a Living Lab, b) Maintaining/monitoring a Campus as a Living Lab, and c) Scaling up beyond the campus. Dialogues between universities and sharing sessions together with the actual cases comprise important insights to offer critically relevant perspectives on conceptual development to support HEI’s in their endeavours.

Universities can play an important role in providing a knowledge base for learning, representing platforms for visioning and local experimental sites and allowing understanding of mechanisms to impact wider societal change. Thus, the researchers’ team discusses two different modes of initiating and performing Campus Living Labs in ‘A tool to support universities’ transformation from living labs on campus to the campus as a living lab,’ which will be presented at the “Transatlantic Symposium on Sustainable Development: North American and European Perspectives on Sustainability in Higher Education” in autumn this year.

For further information on the International Community of Practice concerning Living Labs contact Nina Vogel,


Critical Living Lab approach

Living labs refer to real-world, real-time, society-science interfaces that represent arenas for learning and knowledge co-creation. A critical living lab approach mobilizes these science-society collaborations as means to experiment with novel processes, actor-constellations and practices otherwise often impossible to set up in typical urban settings. The value of a critical living lab approach lies the opportunities it creates for real change, by revealing and critiquing underlying operational mechanisms, thereby challenging the status quo. Learn more about this at SLU Urban Futures.


Nina Vogel, Programme Director of SLU Urban Futures and Researcher at SLU affiliated to the Governance and Management theme group at the Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management, SLU Alnarp

Phone: +46 727 044 064