Press release

Information Department, Blekinge Institute of Technology

Lennarth Förberg, Head of Information Department

Blekinge institute of technology announces new sustainability master's programme

The blekinge institute of technology, bth, karlskrona, sweden, announces a unique, new international master’s programme entitled “strategic leadership towards sustainability". the one-year programme starts september 2004.

"This new Master's programme is just what the Blekinge Institute of Technology needs to further improve its profile as a leader in information technology and sustainable development of society", noted Lars Haikola, Vice-Chancellor. "We are fully supportive of this innovative new programme."

Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt, internationally recognized for his contribution to the understanding of sustainability, founder of The Natural Step and Blue Planet Prize Laureate, is leading formation of the programme.

"This new master’s programme fulfils a critical societal need – to assist the development of a network of committed and capable young leaders with the structured comprehension necessary to lead society to a more attractive and sustainable future," he said.

Dr. Robèrt is accompanied by a highly qualified BTH team and an external network of leading pioneers and practitioners in sustainable development from business and academia, including Leif Johansson, CEO AB Volvo, Margot Wallström, EU Commissioner for the Environment, Göran Carstedt, leading member of Society for Organizational Learning and former President of IKEA North America, Manfred Max-Neef, National Economist and Christian Azar, Physicist and Member of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

A structured approach to mastering sustainability

Conceived by Dr. Robèrt and Dr. Göran Broman, professor and head of research at the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Blekinge Institute of Technology, the programme follows a fresh, progressive approach to the challenge of sustainable development. The entire programme is founded on the premise that leadership towards sustainability requires learning to select and structure information so that it is relevant for long term decision-making, planning and consensus building. Therefore, the programme curriculum will revolve around an intellectually strict framework that is designed for this purpose and built on a total systems perspective and scientifically relevant world-view.

The framework, known as The Natural Step Framework, is an internationally recognized framework used to guide strategy towards sustainability in a variety of settings. It allows a systematic approach to:

  • analysis of current practices
  • envisioning of solutions
  • finding strategic paths to a successful outcome (i.e. sustainable society) and
  • selecting and designing cohesive and complementary tools such as management systems, life cycle assessments and development of indicators for sustainable development.

In addition, this programme covers various approaches and technologies that will be needed for an attractive transition towards sustainability, including public policy and business strategies for sustainable development and best practice case studies from business, government and non-governmental organizations.

The learning process

The programme will be based on the Swedish nine-month academic year – starting early September, 2004 and divided into four study periods. The first two periods will be for course work focusing on a structured understanding of the fundamentals of sustainability and sustainable development, strategic management, organizational change, strategic leadership skills and electives. The programme focuses on intelligent approaches for structuring information and creating shared mental models through dialogue. By ‘walking the talk’ with progressive approaches to shared leadership, students will build energy and enthusiasm for an attractive and sustainable future. Students will also be encouraged to seek out and identify their own specific interests related to sustainability and, in study periods three and four, apply that interest in a project that will form the basis of their thesis. The first year will end June 5, 2005

Extensive group work and learning will be encouraged throughout the programme. The small, Campus Gräsvik setting, on the edge of the Baltic Sea, will allow for a focus on learning as well as relationship building between students from different parts of the world. The campus is located near the town centre of Karlskrona, a UNESCO World Heritage city on the southeast coast of Sweden. Students will develop enhanced leadership capabilities and the ability to inform and empower through:

  • a clear and structured approach to sustainability,
  • improved presentation, facilitation and coaching skills, and
  • improved awareness of personal and organizational learning.


Distinguished professors and instructors in sustainability will bring expertise and training from a variety of relevant fields including: resource and environmental management, public policy, engineering, energy systems, community planning, product development, economics, business and organizational change. Along with Karl-Henrik Robèrt, Dr. Göran Broman, provides overall direction for this new programme. A wide network of sustainability leaders will bring training from outside the university that is integral to the overall programme. A partial list includes:

Dr. Göran Carstedt

Leading Member of the Society for Organizational Learning, former President of IKEA North America

Leif Johansson

CEO, AB Volvo

Margot Wallström

European Union Commissioner for the Environment and Member of the Swedish Parliament

Dr. Manfred Max-Neef

Rector, Universidad Austral de Chile in Valdivia and a member of the Club of Rome

Jonas Oldmark

Secretary General, The Natural Step (Det Naturliga Steget), Sweden

Dr. Christian Azar

Professor, Chalmers University of Technology and member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Anders Wijkman

Former head of Swedish Red Cross, Member of European Union Parliament and a member of the Club of Rome

Who should apply?

Anyone who is interested in being part of the greatest challenge of our time - a transition towards an attractive, sustainable society, in any country, will be interested in this programme. Groups with a particular interest may include:

  • students of sustainability, recently graduated with bachelor degrees,
  • early and mid-career professionals with some connection to, or responsibility for, social or environmental responsibility
  • resource management professionals
  • executives wishing to familiarize themselves with the fundamentals of strategic leadership towards sustainability.
  • political leaders who want to provide progressive leadership for sustainability

The goal

The overall aim of the Master's programme is to help students become strategic thinkers and effective change agents able to enter the professional world with the skills and tools necessary to create a more sustainable world.

Specific goals are:

A. Have a thorough understanding of an intellectually strict, widely applicable framework for sustainable development (The Natural Step Framework);

B. Be able to apply the framework, in a range of situations, for an analysis of problems as well as creation of solutions;

C. Be able to select, design and apply a range of complimentary and cohesive tools and concepts as part of a strategic approach to sustainability;

D. Be able to demonstrate an in-depth, sophisticated application of the framework (With one thesis); and

E To develop enhanced leadership capabilities and the ability to inform and empower through an improved awareness of organizational and personal learning as well as improved presentation, facilitation and coaching skills.

By helping students to achieve these goals, the programme will make a substantial contribution to a growing network of professional practitioners in sustainable development.

Upon successful completion of the degree, a "Master's of Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability" will be granted.

For more information on the programme, contact David Waldron, Project Leader, at:

Blekinge Tekniska Högskola Phone: +46 (0)455 385522

371 43 Karlskrona, Sweden Fax: +46 (0)455 385507


Or visit the programme website at:


Blekinge Institute of Technology was founded in 1989. From the outset the focus has been twofold:

  • Applied IT
  • Development of business and society

The latter has since been specified as

  • Sustainable Development of Business and Society

Applied IT deals with all aspects of the use of modern tools in our daily life, at work and at home.

The Institute is pleased to be able to offer a unique combination: top quality education and research in creative, modern surroundings, together with an exceptionally attractive environment strategically located by the Baltic Sea.

The Institute cooperates closely with business, commerce and communities at the local, national and international levels. In this way, our profile is firmly anchored in the needs and practices of modern society. A cross-disciplinary approach has been fundamental to the success, to date, of the institute.

Karlskrona - something for everyone

The City of Karlskrona, in Blekinge county, which has been on UNESCO' s World Heritage list since 1998, is a living history book with well preserved locations from the town's naval history, a modern IT town and one of the Baltic's meeting places. The population of Karlskrona is currently 61,000.

An international outlook and three centuries of solid technical knowledge are the driving forces behind Karlskrona's progress. Exciting experiences are offered alongside the warmest hospitality, and from the moment you arrive there are enjoyable discoveries to be made.

For more information on Karlskrona, go to:

Endorsement of the natural step framework

This masters program is the first in the world to be based, in a comprehensive way, on The Natural Step framework. The Natural Step Framework has been widely endorsed.

"The Natural Step provides an elegant framework, a compass, to guide us on the road ahead and is a powerful tool for all seeking a new mental model to move their business into a sustainable future"

-Maurice Strong, Secretary General, 1992 UN Earth Summit

"The whole world has dreamt about a sold definition of sustainability that would allow systematic step-by-step planning. When the definition arrived, delivered by The Natural Step, it was remarkable how simple it was. Why hadn't anybody thought about it before?"

-Paul Hawken, co-author of Natural Capitalism

"The work of Karl-Henrik Robèrt and his colleagues through The Natural Step process in Sweden is one of the leading examples in the world today of society-wide learning. Learning based on systems thinking and continued dialogue is not only transforming Sweden's approach to sustainable industrial development but holds great promise for many of the most intractable societal issues of our time."

-Dr. Peter Senge, Society for Organizational Learning, MIT

"The Natural Step is already a major player in the movement by corporations and other organizations to m.'1ke "sustainability" their ultimate brand. ... It's a lucid description of how we - homo we hope sapiens - can adjust our minds and our consequent behaviour to make the human adventure work for everyone."

-Harland Cleveland, President Emeritus,

World Academy of Art and Science

"As a guiding star, a compass, for our environmental work, we have adopted the (Natural Step) four System Conditions for a sustainable society. Everyone who has attended IKEA's environmental training has learned of the importance of these conditions. Each of us in our various roles must now seek to put these into practice, within the framework of IKEA's business idea."

-Anders Moberg, former President, IKEA,

today Vice President, Home Depot

"The Natural Step is a clear voice in the commotion"

-Leif Johansson, CEO, AB Volvo

"Interface is committed to shifting from linear industrial processes to cyclical ones. To do this, we use a compass to guide us, and a set of tools to help us. They are both the result of The Natural Step. Interface will use the four fundamental principles of sustainability described by The Natural Step as a guide to reduce its impact and footprint upon the planet.

We believe that institutions that continuously violate these principles will suffer economically."

-Ray Anderson, Chair and Founder, Interface Inc.

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