Research at CSTM

Research at CSTM, in its core, focuses on sustainable development, specifically with respect to protecting and improving the quality and proper use of the bio-physical environment, as condition for sustaining (a good) life. The academic community, governments, businesses, and broader society recognise the importance of sustainable development for the future health and welfare of the planet and its inhabitants. To deal with the challenges of sustainable development, past research has often focused on separate approaches towards business responsibilities and initiatives, government policies, instruments and implementation networks, cultural and value orientations, and technological inventions and advances. But if the scientific study into dealing with the challenge of sustainability since the early 1990s has made anything clear, it is that all these changes are in need of each other. The unavoidable challenge of sustainable development can only be addressed by the productive co-evolution of different approaches.

CSTM conducts research upon the governance, institutional and managerial dynamics of appraisal and improvement of the ecological, social and technical resources in society, their interplay and co-evolution. Within this complexity, our research programme 'Innovation and Governance for Sustainable Development' is structured by four core themes, in which three disciplinary lenses are applied. These four core themes are: 1) Energy transition, 2) Water and climate, 3) Sustainable production and consumption, and 4) Regional sustainable development. The themes are closely related to different Sustainable Development Goals, with significant interplay between each other. CSTM’s trans- and interdisciplinary research is shaped by three disciplinary lenses: 1) Policy studies & transition, 2) Law & regulation, and 3) Geographic economics.

CSTM research framework, consisting of the sustainable development goals, surrounded by three boxes: 1) policy studies & transition, 2) law & regulation, 3) geographic economies.

Research themes


Research on education

In addition to the research lines outlined above, CSTM also strives to innovate in the field of sustainability education. The following are recent examples of research projects with a focus our education programmes at the University of Twente.

  • Transformation towards Challenge-based Learning

    Transforming a Problem-based learning course into a Challenge-based learning course: UT M-EEM “Challenge-based Sustainability Case projects”

    The Master programme in Energy and Environmental Management (M-EEM) has already had a group-work-based course in each specialisation track in quartile 3 for many years. Traditionally, this has been a problem-based course, i.e. teachers provided research problems including external partners/clients. In the recent past, the courses have already opened up to a more challenge-based structure, especially in the Case Project Water Management, with specific a ‘scoping phase’ at the beginning of the course for students to develop and formulate their own research problems.

    From this academic year on, all three courses are supposed to become challenge-based, adopting tailored Engage-Investigate-Act phases. While the precise temporal segmentation of the available learning time is left to each course coordinator, both the summative and formative assessment have been aligned to include mid-term reports, e.g. proposals (formative), final reports (formative/summative), and a combination of self- and peer-assessment applied at three moments during the quartile (beginning, middle, end). The latter is mainly meant for formative assessment, but we also want to experiment with it to see whether and how it can be used to inform two of the criteria in the final assessment rubric (“personal development” and “group participation”).

    The questions we are interested in are:

    • How can aspects of challenge-based learning be strengthened in the context of three parallel group work courses in the Master programme Energy and Environmental Management?
    • In what way can challenge-based learning be adequately supported by a novel form of formative assessment throughout the quartile?


  • Towards an Interactive Sustainability Minor

    With this project we aim to apply innovations on interactivity and active learning in the areas of video-production and Challenge Based Learning to enhance the 30 EC preparatory minor of the M-EEM titled Towards Managing Sustainability in a Technological Context in order to improve the education in the minor and make it more attractive for prospective students. The idea is to extend the use of the interactive content to the M-EEM itself and thus contribute to innovative education and the professionalization of all M-EEM teachers. In this project we aim to make a start with what could become a multimedia database of key concepts, methods and theories that are characteristic of the M-EEM and can be applied in both the minor and the main M-EEM programme, though with different uses. In time and with a fair amount of videos/concepts this content can also be made available for other programmes.