Course Overview

To meet the learning objectives, the course is divided into three (3) main phases (plus a familiarization phase) and includes a number of instructional techniques. One overarching philosophy guiding the course design is to maximize discussion and dialogue during limited face-to-face opportunities. In this sense, much of the "lecturing" or one-way flow of information will be done online between workshops.

Familiarizing with Technology involved in the Course

Since this course includes elements of online learning in addition to in-person workshops, participants should familiarize themselves with the technology that will be important in delivering course content. These include the It's Learning management system (, Adobe Connect Pro online collaboration software ( and the Step by Natural Step e-learning module ( The main purpose of this phase is to ensure that the participant is familiar with all technology and to rectify technological issues that may arise. For more information on the instructional approaches and technology used in the course please refer to Appendix 2 of the course outline document.

Phase 1: Introduction to Strategic Planning for Sustainability

This phase occurs during the first seven (7) weeks of the course, leading up to the first workshop. During Phase 1 the participant will be introduced to an internationally recognised Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development, commonly referred to as The Natural Step Framework after the NGO that promotes its development, application and open dissemination. The participant:

  • Completes the Sustainability Step by Natural Step e-learning module that introduces the student to the main concepts of strategic planning for sustainability using The Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development (FSSD).
  • Reads articles and watch videos that explore more deeply the concepts of the FSSD, and the sustainability challenges facing the chemical industry and industries that rely upon it.
  • Participates in online discussion forums and bi-weekly online seminars that deepen their understanding of the concepts in the FSSD and the challenges facing the chemical industry by allowing the participant to reflect on the concepts and pose questions to experts.

Phase 1 culminates and Phase 2 starts with a two-day workshop, which aims at deepening the participants understanding of the main concepts, and to practice the application of the Framework. At this point the first project will be introduced.


Phase 2: applying the framework for Strategic sustainable development

Phase 2 occurs during the next 10 weeks. The participants will work on a project that applies the Framework to perform a high-level analysis within their organization. This analysis consists of a review of the organization’s vision from a sustainability perspective, an analysis of current reality against this vision, a list of initiatives that can help close the gap between current reality and the vision and a preliminary prioritization of the initiatives to identify possible early investments. The purpose of this project is to deepen the participant's understanding of the Framework and to identify possible initiatives that will form the main focus of the second project in Phase 3. During the project in Phase 2 the participants will be supported by monthly online seminars with experts who can provide guidance and answer questions, in addition participants have access to an online discussion forum where they can post questions and ideas.

In addition to the project, the participant will also be preparing for the second workshop by reading materials related to organizational learning and change, and planning in complex systems. As in the first phase, the participant will deepen their understanding of these concepts through participation in an online forum and online seminars.

Phase 2 culminates in a two-day workshop where the participant shares the results of their project work, including reflections of the process of performing the analysis itself. During the workshop, the entire class will explore collaborative initiatives that will form the basis for the project work in Phase 3.

Phase 3: Collaborative Project Work

Phase 3 occurs during the final ten (10) weeks of the course. During Phase 3, the main focus will be a collaborative project between two or more participating organizations or individual participants to address a shared sustainability challenge facing the industry. As in the project in Phase 2, the participant will be supported by periodic online seminars with an advisor.

Phase 3 will culminate in a workshop where participants will have an opportunity to share their collaborative projects with their peers.

At the end of the course participants will be invited to stay connected to each other as a peer support network. Participants will also be invited discuss any needs for ongoing sustainability support in their work, as well as opportunities for joint collaboration between participants or the course convenors.

Share Share