Sustainability Futures – Navigating the Sustainability Transition

Climate change and other sustainability challenges will shape the future of our planet. This module prepares you to navigate the far-reaching implications of sustainability transitions, as organisations around the world search for ways to live within ecological boundaries while providing a fair and equitable foundation for all people to thrive.

Sustainability challenges such as climate change will require decades of consistent effort around the world to address successfully. They will shape careers, now and in the future. When faced with big challenges like climate change, it can be hard to know where to start. The Sustainability Futures module will introduce sustainability challenges but will mainly focus on how people from all industries and professions can respond. It uses a six-step transition management cycle to guide identification of practical actions that can help to conserve and restore nature and promote social justice and human well-being.

The module will be very ‘hands on’. We will use case studies on the Blue Mountains, energy transition in Western Australia and the circular economy in South Australia will demonstrate what sustainability means in practice for Australia. Over the three weeks, we will have four live sessions together and will work with several tools that you can take into your own work, including system diagramming and the Three Horizons foresighting method.

Module Themes:

In Week 1, we will explore the nature of the sustainability challenges humanity is facing, including climate change, biodiversity loss and global inequity. We will use the doughnut model of sustainability to explore the twin challenge of living within planetary boundaries while ensuring all people have a fair social foundation. We will introduce participants to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as the agreed international vision for achieving sustainability.

In Week 2, we will focus on how we can respond to the challenges covered in Week 1. We will explore how to navigate and accelerate sustainability transitions through six practices: system analysis; stakeholder engagement; foresighting; option development and selection; implementation; and monitoring and evaluation.

In Week 3, we will explore ways that future professionals, organisations, and sectors are likely to respond to sustainability challenges. We will use systems thinking and futures thinking tools to draw out implications and design responses.

Learning Outcomes: 

Upon completing this module, students should:

  • Understand the sustainability challenges that will shape future societies, sectors and careers
  • Build experience with a six-step method to manage sustainability transitions and specific thinking tools to use at each stage
  • Apply systems and futures thinking to identify responses that individuals, organisations and sectors can take to sustainability challenges

Who Should Enrol?

This module is suitable for all Higher Degree by Research students of all disciplines. Whilst all students can apply, priority enrolment will be given to students who have completed 3 or more Level 1 Frontiers modules.

Please note: Places are limited so we recommend registering interest as soon as possible.

2023 Delivery Dates:

Module Commencement Masterclasses Assessment Due Date
Quarter 3 Delivery Week commencing Monday 18 September Wednesday 20 September (16:00 – 17:15pm AEST)


Wednesday 27 September (16:00 – 17:15pm AEST)


Thursday 28 September (16:00 – 18:15pm AEST)


Wednesday 4 October (16:00 – 17:15pm AEST)

Friday 6 October (20:00pm AEST)