Behavior Change for a Sustainable Future

Academic Study Board for Information and Communication Studies

Teaching language: English
EKA: H820049402
Assessment: Second examiner: None
Grading: Pass/Fail
Offered in: Soenderborg
Offered in: Summer school (autumn)
Level: Bachelor

Course ID: H820049401
ECTS value: 5

Date of Approval: 30-03-2023

Duration: 1 semester

Version: Archive

Course ID


ECTS value


Course Title

Behavior Change for a Sustainable Future

Number of lessons

37 hours per week

Course Responsible

Name Email Department
Kerstin Fischer Institut for Design og Kommunikation (00)

Recommended prerequisites

It is recommended that the student has basic knowledge within the following subject areas:
  • having some experience in user studies would be helpful
  • some understanding of what motivates people will be useful

In addition, a reading list will be provided before the summer school. Depending on bachelor or master level, students have to prepare the course reading in advance.

Overall description learning objectives

The summer school provides students with an overview of the theoretical and methodological aspects of the field of behavior change, as well as with the opportunity to carry out hands-on experimental work on behavior change interventions. Students will learn about the psychological basis of various strategies of influence and behavior change, about cognitive biases and other obstacles to rational decision making, about the influence of mindset, about the role of understandable communication for decision making, as well as about the attitude-behavior gap and methods to mitigate that. They will get acquainted with examples of behavior change interventions, including persuasive robots, apps and other persuasive technologies. Students will then develop their own interventions and test them out over the course of the two weeks.

Learnings objectives - Knowledge

On completion of the course students should have knowledge on:

  • key theoretical positions, concepts and methods within the field of behavior change
  • strategies of influence, conditions for habit formation, examples of persuasive technologies and the interplay between understanding, beliefs, goals and behavior

Learning objectives - Skills

On completion of the course students should be able to

  • make informed choices between different behavior change methods for specific contexts
  • design effective behavior change interventions
  • carry out empirical studies to test the effectiveness of a specific intervention
  • report on their studies in an academic fashion

Learning objectives - Competences

On completion of the course students should

  • be able to create behavior change interventions
  • be able to carry out empirical studies independently to identify the effects of those interventions
  • be able to report on these studies by drawing on the relevant theories and behavior change strategies


Teaching includes an in-depth academic and research based introduction to behavior design with particular emphasis on central, relevant areas in the field of behavior changes concerning social and environmental sustainability.

Content of the current semester

This two-week summer school introduces students to:

  • theories of behavior and organizational change
  • initiating and communicating organizational change
  • methods for changing behavior, such as:
    o    nudging
    o    persuasive utterance design
    o    presuasion
    o    gamification
    o    strategic communication
    o    tiny habits
  • persuasive technology
  • the role of social media

The summer school combines theory and practice by enabling students to plan and carry out their own behavior design studies in order to induce more sustainable behavior. Thus, one focus will be on changing the behaviors of individuals and on testing the approaches.

The summer school also includes a hands-on training on how to initiate change with friends and co-workers.

The empirical approach taken will this empower students to implement real-life studies, as well as document and report these studies in scientific ways.

Forms of instruction and work

The following forms of instruction and work may be applied in the course:
Lectures, class discussion, group work, presentations, dialogue, discussions, exercises, reflection questions, quizzes, construction of concept maps, course-related questions, group presentations, flipped classroom, peer feedback and student teacher and university teacher feedback, case and problem-based learning, project counselling,  independent studies, active participation in self-organised study groups and collaborative examination preparation, preparation of assignments, and other study-related products.

Feedback is given in oral form in the course.

Teaching is organised in such a way as to support the humanities model for active learning and activating teaching, cf. section Didactic, pedagogical basis and contact to research environment in the curriculum. The teacher will inform students about how study activities are organised on commencement of teaching. 

The activities in the course are primarily aimed at achieving learning objectives and preparing students for the form of examination Participation, but may also consist of a broad range of individual and class activities. Specifically, students will address real life tasks, develop behavior change interventions to address them and carry out empirical studies to test the solutions developed for efficiency.

The teaching of the course activates the student in the following teaching spaces/learning spaces:
  • Teaching space where the university teacher has the responsibility for planning and is present
  • Study space where the university teacher has the responsibility for planning but is not present
  • Teaching space where the university teacher is present but the students have the responsibility for planning specific sub-activities
  • Study space where the students have the responsibility for planning, and the university teacher is not present


5 ECTS is equivalent to 140 working hours. The working hours are distributed between the activities described in the humanities model and listed under Forms of instruction and work as well as the exam including the preparation of this. The university teacher will provide an indicative distribution of the workload at the beginning of the course.

Participant limit


Teaching language



For bachelor students the required reading will be 70-100 pages
For master students the expected reading amounts to 100-250 pages.

Reading List:
Bogost, I. (2021). 2. Persuasive Games, A Decade Later. Persuasive Gaming in Context, 29.

Cummings, J. J., Tsay-Vogel, M., Cahill, T. J., & Zhang, L. (2022). Effects of immersive storytelling on affective, cognitive, and associative empathy: The mediating role of presence. new media & society, 24(9), 2003-2026.

Edgy Veggies Toolkit.

Fogg, B.J. (2005): Persuasive Technology. Morgan Kaufman, ch. 3.

Fogg, B. J. (2019): Fogg behavior model. URL: https://behaviormodel. org

Hankonen, N., & Hardeman, W. (2020). 21 Developing Behavior Change Interventions. The handbook of behavior change, 300.

Hansen, P. G., Schilling, M., & Malthesen, M. S. (2021). Nudging healthy and sustainable food choices: three randomized controlled field experiments using a vegetarian lunch-default as a normative signal. Journal of Public Health, 43(2), 392-397.

Hargreaves, T. (2011). Practice-ing behaviour change: Applying social practice theory to pro-environmental behaviour change. Journal of consumer culture, 11(1), 79-99.

Heen, S., & Stone, D. (2014). Find the coaching in criticism: The right ways to receive feedback. Harvard Business Review, 92(1/2), 108-111.

Houde, Stephanie & Hill, Charles (1997): What do Prototypes Prototype?, in Handbook of Human-Computer Interaction (2nd Ed.), M. Helander, T. Landauer, and P. Prabhu (eds.): Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, 1997. 

Klasnja, P., Consolvo, S., McDonald, D. W., Landay, J. A., & Pratt, W. (2009). Using mobile & personal sensing technologies to support health behavior change in everyday life: lessons learned. In AMIA Annual Symposium Proceedings (Vol. 2009, p. 338). American Medical Informatics Association.

Michie, S., Atkins, L., & West, R. (2014). The behaviour change wheel. A guide to designing interventions. 1st ed. Great Britain: Silverback Publishing, 1003-1010.

Thaler, R. H. (2018). Nudge, not sludge. Science, 361(6401), 431-431.

Tantia, P. (2019). Behavioral science for impact: The new science of designing for humans. In Perspectives on Impact (pp. 100-110). Routledge.

Examination regulations

Examination requirements


Examination requirements


During the semester


Final examination




Final examination


The exam consists of:
a. regular participation in classes
b. creation of three memory cards
c. an oral presentation of a case study

Regular participation means that the student must participate in no less that 80% of the offered classes. Registration of participation takes place via SDU's e-learning platform. 

During the summer school students will be asked to create three written or video summaries (memory cards) of different behavior change approaches.

The main activity of the course is the development of an intervention for a real-life case and its empirical testing. The results of the case study must be presented on the last day of the summer school to the case-owners.

Form of examination

Combined test


Second examiner: None




Student Identification Card - Date of birth



ECTS value


Additional information

Assessment criteria:
Considering the method of assessment and the current study level, specific emphasis will be put on the extent to which the student´s performance meets the learning objectives as well as to what extent the student masters the general competence objectives mentioned in the curriculum, section Aim of Programme, including any professional profile and specializations, particularly no. 2-7 that the course pays special attention to.

The Pass/Fail assessment reflects it the student properly understands the general and discipline specific competencies.

Several students may contribute to the exam: Yes, a maximum of 4 students may collaborate on an exam project.

Reexamination takes place in the same way as the ordinary examination. However, for the reexam, students who have failed the requirements for regular participation (part a) must hand in 1-2 standard pages with reflections of the achievement of the learning objectives. Moreover, the oral presentation of the case study (part c) will be replaced by a video presentation of the results of the case study.

Timetable for the course

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Further information

First lesson takes place: [Indsæt oplysning om dato og klokkeslæt]

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Teaching takes place for the last time in [autumn semester 20?? ]/[spring semester 20??]

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Please notice: There are limited seats in this course. Seats are assigned in order of registration.

Courses offered

Offer period Offer type Profile Education Semester

Programmes the course description is part of

Profile Education Semester Offer period