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CoSy Thinking – Enhancing higher education on COmplex SYstems THINKING for sustainable development

Duration: 36 months (Sept 2020 – August 2023)
TUS Project Budget: €91.420,00
Total Project Budget: €447,750,00

What is COSY Thinking?


The 2030 Agenda states 17 sustainable development goals which are integrated, indivisible and balance the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development (UN, 2015). Such integration of the goals and the three dimensions requires a systemic approach (Stafford-Smith et al., 2017). Sustainability issues show the characteristics of complex systems, as they are part of the continuously changing, self-organising, interdependent and adaptive systems in our world.

Essential for a complex system is that the response of a combination of factors cannot be inferred from the response of each individual factor (van Mil et al., 2014). The COSY project focuses its intervention on providing undergraduate students with opportunities to learn about complex systems, as well as providing short courses to lifelong learners active in agencies engaged in the 2030 Agenda. This will, in turn, benefit the organizations employing these students, and hopefully, improve the contributions to the 2030 Agenda and the sustainable development goals.

Objectives of COSY

  • To strengthen the collaboration among academic institutions, starting from the project partners and provide them with a clearer picture of the range of opportunities between the universal and the particular, regardless if the differences lie in academic subjects and settings or in national and local cultural situations.
  • To achieve an in-depth investigation of current practices of complex systems thinking in the partner countries and institutions within their respective academic subjects, and identify similarities and differences that might be related to the national and local contexts.
  • To provide academic lecturers and managerial staff with knowledge, skills and tools for adapting their educational activities with a specific focus on sustainable development by integrating complex systemic thinking (in curricula, courses, lectures, exercises and seminars, and in modes of examination)
  • To provide undergraduate students with competences on complex systems thinking as a basis for sustainability action and make them employable in organizations interested to meet the sustainable development goals.
Contact Details

Yvonne Doyle


TUS Activities
  • An Inventory on complex systems implementation in academic training (IO1) that will raise awareness academic decision-makers and lecturers on the importance of planning and implementing complex systems teaching through an interdisciplinary approach and motivate them to implement degrees, curricula and courses on the matter to improve the employability of undergraduate students.
  • A Toolkit for implementing an interdisciplinary approach to sustainable development teaching (IO2) providing Higher education lecturers with methods and operative teaching sources to be used in their lessons to teach Sustainable Development related issues according to interdisciplinary approaches.
  • A Joint Curriculum in Sustainable Development (IO3) engaging Higher education decision-makers, experts and lecturers in defining a shared complex systems and system thinking based interdisciplinary learning path and related curriculum in Sustainable Development and build on them to reach agreements on Double and Joint Degrees.
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