Department of Strategic Sustainable Development, TISU

Department of Strategic Sustainable Development, TISU

The Department of Strategic Sustainable Development is one of six departments at the Faculty of Engineering.

It focuses on leadership and innovation for sustainability. We educate, research, and collaborate with the aim of providing methodological support for organizations that want to work strategically with sustainability, and in doing so contributing to society’s transition towards sustainability. We attract research partners and students from all over the world and strongly contribute to BTH’s focus on IT and sustainability.

Below you can read about the exciting things we do in research, education and collaboration.


Head of Department: Sven Borén
Department Coordinator: Christina Lindqvist

Our full staff directory is available here.


Our research focuses on methodological support for companies, municipalities and other organizations that want to work strategically with sustainability; that is, organizations that want to contribute to society’s transition towards sustainability in a way that strengthens the organization.

Our research results are applied in industry and society world-wide and the research has been deemed excellent and internationally leading by many independent evaluators. For example, faculty of our department have received many prestigious awards, including the Blue Planet Prize (often referred to as the Sustainability Nobel Prize) and an independent external review of BTH research, including aspects such as publications, external funding, academic network and cooperation, networks in industry and society, international presence and visibility, and research environment, concluded in 2013 that:

 ”…BTH has gained an excellent international recognition for its support to strategic sustainable development … has an excellent, uniquely large, incomparable and extraordinary well-established national and international network … Overall, this is an excellent research group performing excellent results.”

Some years ago we also got the honor to lead the development of a Special Volume of the Journal of Cleaner Production with a focus on Leadership towards Sustainability, and when it was finalized in 2017 the editor-in-chief and founder of the journal, Professor Donald Huisingh, deemed this to be:

“…the most outstanding special volume ever published in the journal.”

Furthermore, in a recent external evaluation of one of our big research projects, conducted by Damvad Analytics, our researchers were found to be highly cited. Three articles were found to be among the top one percent most cited in the world within their category.

We study, for example, definitions of sustainability and how organizations can consider sustainability aspects when they develop strategic plans, identify user needs, formulate product and service criteria, generate ideas and concepts, evaluate concepts, develop business models, procure, and communicate.

The aim is to provide support for strategic sustainability thinking early in innovation processes. It is in the early phases that the opportunities are the greatest to create solutions that contribute to the sustainable development of society and strengthen the organization. In these phases it is important to be able to model, simulate, and take into account, for example, the technical, business, economic, and socio-ecological consequences of different solutions in a coordinated way. Based on this, the organization can find the best options from a strategic sustainability perspective and develop these further in later phases of the innovation process.

We continuously develop a core methodology for strategic sustainable development further, currently with a specific focus on its definition of social sustainability. We also continuously use this core methodology to inform the development of more specific methodology in a number of application areas. Examples of current application areas are sustainable product- and service development, sustainable transport- and energy system development, sustainable food system development, and sustainable municipal- and regional development.



We develop and participate in educational programs, courses and contract training that convey the new knowledge and new methodology that emerge in the department’s research and in other research world-wide that we are constantly keeping us updated on. All our researchers are active in our education. In this way, our students get into direct contact with the research front.

Our education has been recognized with many excellent reviews from both the scientific sphere and from industry and society. For example, our master’s program in Strategic Leadership for Sustainability (MSLS) has been highly recognized internationally. More than 700 students from 88 countries and all continents of the world have taken the program since its start in 2004. Some examples of reviews from students, employers and academics are as follows:

“The cultural, professional, and personal diversity of MSLS helped me see the world in new ways. The scientific rigor combined with the powerful tools and concepts of how to lead transformational change have enabled me to be a leader in creating a better future.”

-Spud Marshall, USA


“This year has been of more value to my professional and personal development than the four years I studied in my previous university.”

-Michael Wzdulski, Sweden


“The two MSLS alumni on our international sustainability consulting team are exceptional examples of what we and our clients look for. In this era of cascading challenges, we need to develop precisely the type of integrated systems thinkers targeted by BTH, people prepared to move into the front ranks of business, government and community leadership.”

-Martin Janowitz, Senior Vice President, Jacques Whitford Ltd.


“I wish we had a program similar to MSLS here at MIT.”

– Otto Scharmer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


We collaborate intensively with partners in industry and society. This is mainly done through our education and research. All our research projects are conducted in collaboration with external partners and our students do many projects and other collaborations with companies, municipalities, and other organizations during their education. Our partners include several world-leading companies and universities. We also conduct classical “outreach” through open lectures, seminars and workshops, and receive visits from the public, schools, politicians, ambassadors, and others who are attracted to and want to know more about our activities.

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