Programme Design

The Core Elements

The MSLS learning journey combines several elements to help you learn about, respond to and create change in complex systems.

Why focus on Complexity?

Nature itself, as a living system, is complex. Human society, a system nested within nature, is complex as well. As a result, most of the social and environmental challenges we face today are also complex—meaning they are highly ‘entangled’.

To create a resilient social fabric, including a robust global economy supported by a healthy environment, we need to learn what it means to work and lead effectively in complexity and build our capacity to engage others in navigating change towards sustainability, together.

A Systems Thinking Approach

To address complex challenges effectively, you will learn ‘whole-systems’ ways of thinking, planning and problem solving. This approach is the background to both of the main themes in the programme.

Core Theme 1: Strategic Sustainable Development

Strategic sustainable development means to create and execute economically viable programs for evolving products, systems, organisations, communities and everything else in a way that supports global society's transition towards sustainability. You will learn about the sustainability challenge and related opportunities, and how to use field-tested, time-proven and science-based methodologies to perform strategic sustainable development in any context, at any scale.

Core Theme 2: Leadership in Complexity

Leadership in complexity means to handle respectfully the complexity of our current world and effectively facilitate change in this context. You are invited to explore the meaning and implications of complexity for social change and your own leadership. You will learn and practise methodologies and develop skills for facilitating the change needed to build a vibrant, sustainable future together with others. On the path to becoming a change maker, you will learn to recognize and work with many ways of seeing the world.

Diversity and Cross-System Connection

As we study complex systems, we live and work in one together—your peer collaborators will be from dozens of countries and many professional fields, bringing a great diversity of knowledge, experience and perspectives together in one learning community. Powerful guest lecturers from fields of practise around the world bring additional depth. You will leave with a rich professional and personal network that spans the globe.

Together, we form a learning community made up of students, learning facilitators, researchers, global experts and practitioners from the field. The programme is also part of a broad learning network of similarly focused leadership programmes around the world.


Curriculum Content

Taken individually, each of these core elements of the MSLS programme would be powerful in its own right. But the transformational nature of the programme comes from the way we integrate these together.

The delivery of the programme follows a spiral learning approach, beginning with an overview of the two themes, followed by progressively deeper exploration, practice and reflection. As the year progresses, learning also becomes increasingly self-directed, with solid support from the staff—your learning facilitators.

The MSLS programme is designed to take you on a transformational learning journey to increase your leadership capacity. In addition to giving you practical strategic tools, you will be challenged to question, stretch and grow as an individual. A great deal of care is put into the design of the programme’s environment, in order to create the conditions that will best support and challenge you to engage with the learning experience.

The MSLS programme revolves around two integrated themes: Strategic Sustainable Development (SSD) - a science-based, strategic approach in planning towards sustainability, and Leadership in Complexity - practicing leadership to effectively create change towards sustainability.

The 10-month programme (late August to early June) is divided into four study periods of equal length. The first two study periods are focused on coursework, while the second two are more focused on thesis work (although some course work also occurs here). All courses are mandatory. The overall MSLS programme consists of a total of 60 ECTS credits. (partial credit can be given for Erasmus students)

The course structure over the 10 months is the following:

Image of Program content

In the course Strategic Sustainable Development (12.5 ECTS) we will focus on understanding more of society’s sustainability challenges as well as a solutions-oriented methodology for strategic sustainable development. We will explore the scientific foundations of the methodology as well as the relationship to other fields such as systems thinking, complex systems, economy, governance and strategic management: Finally, we analyze and reflect on some of the most cited concepts and methods in the field of sustainability.

In the Innovation for Sustainability course (5 ECTS) we will focus on how innovation can support society’s transition to sustainability. You will learn about innovation theory as well as methodology for product- and service innovation and how this can be integrated with strategic sustainable development. Additionally, we will focus on creativity and how we can spark creativity for innovation for sustainability.

In the course Research Methodology for Sustainability (5 ECTS) we will focus on research methods and approaches, specifically in relation to sustainability. The course helps prepare you for the thesis project in one of the next courses.

In the Strategic Planning for Sustainability course (7.5 ECTS) we will focus on theories and methods for strategic management of an organization, specifically as regards management for strategic sustainable development.

The course Leadership in Complexity (10 ECTS) runs throughout the whole programme. We will focus on theoretical foundations for leadership in complexity as well as developing abilities and skills in this regard.

The Master’s Thesis in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability (20 ECTS) is the culmination of the MSLS programme, allowing you to deepen you knowledge and understanding of the themes of the programme in application to an area of your interest. In line with the overall goals of the programme, the thesis is performed as a collaborative project.

Upon successful completion of the degree, a Master's of Science (One Year) in Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability will be granted.

Field trips:

Throughout the academic year, at least one field trip within Sweden and/or surrounding areas will take place. The purpose is for students to learn about applications of sustainable development with individuals, groups and/or organisations. It is also a great opportunity for students to increase their networks and contacts in different fields and areas of work. Students should budget 1500 - 2500 SEK per person for these activities. Field trips are mandatory.

Share Share