In 2005, the UN General Assembly declared 2005-2014 the decade of education for sustainable development. In early 2006, the Swedish Higher Education Act was amended to the effect that all Swedish universities were to promote sustainable development within their operations. That same year Chalmers started up a three year development project, “Education for sustainable development - ESD”, according a decision made by the Chalmers President.
The project, headed by Professor John Holmberg, was linked to the UNESCO professorship for teaching sustainable development, to which he was appointed to that same year. The objective was to create a permanent organisation for systematic promotion of teaching sustainable development at Chalmers. That sustainable development is an important issue at Chalmers has not only been made visible by the ESD project, but above all by very clear commitment from management at Chalmers. The dynamic vision of “Chalmers for a sustainable future” has brought legitimacy to the project and set the bar high. The three-year project has contributed to teaching of sustainable development occupying a prominent position in both education and research at Chalmers.
The ESD project included integrating sustainable development in all Chalmers educational programmes by means of various activities, to ensure that sustainable development would not be addressed in a separate, compulsory course. Activities focused on altering the more permanent structures at Chalmers; partly the people in the system and partly the system itself, rather than merely striving to make students more aware and knowledgeable.
One conviction held within the project was, that if changes were to take place at Chalmers, skills, attitudes, and the system itself would need to be in tune with the new vision. It was important to promote the motivation of teachers and programme managers if the process was to take off. To initiate the learning process for teachers and programme directors, it was decided to invest in coached discussions and workshops.