Global Challenges I: The SDGs relevance for the Social Sciences

Study Board of Market and Management Anthropology, Economics, Mathematics-Economics, Environmental and Resource Management

Teaching language: English
EKA: B560061102
Censorship: Second examiner: None
Grading: 7-point grading scale
Offered in: Odense
Offered in: Summer school (spring)
Level: Master

Course ID: B560061101
ECTS value: 5

Date of Approval: 11-05-2021

Duration: Intensive course

Course ID


Course Title

Global Challenges I: The SDGs relevance for the Social Sciences

Teaching language


ECTS value


Responsible study board

Study Board of Market and Management Anthropology, Economics, Mathematics-Economics, Environmental and Resource Management

Date of Approval


Course Responsible

Name Email Department
Martin Klatt Center for Grænseregionsforskning

Offered in




Offered in

Summer school (spring)


Intensive course

Recommended prerequisites

Interest in sustainability transformations and SDG implementation. 

Aim and purpose

The purpose of this course is to make students understand the emergence and development of the academic discussion regarding the “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs), as manifested by the UN’s 2030 agenda for peace and prosperity for the people and the planet, and their connectedness with study programs within the Social Sciences. The students will acquire competences regarding the various fields of SDG-related theoretical and conceptual discussion within social science, and of selected current issues within the field. 


Appropriate theoretical frameworks from the various areas within social science will be used for enabling the understanding of the development, assessment, prioritization and implementation of the SDGs. Moreover, an overview of current scholarly discussions will be provided. The discussed theoretical frameworks may include, but are not limited to :
  • A social transition management perspective, e.g.multi-level perspective, strategic niche management, etc.
  • An economic perspective, e.g. welfare analysis, dynamic efficiency, externalities, social costs, public goods, project evaluation, etc.
  • A business perspective, e.g. corporate social responsibility, global business cooperation, sustainable modes of production and sustainable marketing
  • A history of thought and economic history perspective, e.g. origins of sustainability discourse, historical environmental and resource crises, economic history of climate change, energy transitions, etc.
  • A global governance perspective: how are global goals negotiated, defined and implemented?

Learning goals

The students will acquire a comprehensive knowledge about the SDGs, their historical, political, and societal background and the processes and challenges connected with their implementation. They will relate this knowledge to relevant scientific and societal discourses within their discipline. This will improve the student’s understanding of the SDGs and their societal relevance from an interdisciplinary social science perspective. Students should understand the consequences, challenges and opportunities afforded by the interconnectedness of the SDGs.

Description of outcome - Knowledge

By the end of this course, the students will have gained appropriate knowledge about the central contents and lines of argumentation within the current social science discussion on SDG. 
The students will:

  • Know the current discussions taking place in the field.
  • Be familiar with the 17 UN SDGs and social scientific discourses affecting their history, development, implementation, and impacts.

Description of outcome - Skills

By the end of the course, the students will have acquired skills that enable them to

  • Understand interconnected challenges, tradeoffs and synergies, inter- and intra-generational ethical and equity considerations in the development, implementation and impact of the SDGs.
  • Identify current challenges within the area of the SDG and the current scientific discussion. 
  • Translate current problems into proper research questions and in drafting a research design for working on these questions.
  • Critically analyze agendas, discussions and tools for working with sustainable development goals.  

Description of outcome - Competences

By the end of the course, the students will have gained competences in developing solid, scientifically based arguments to constructively contribute to SDG-relevant discussions and issues by using and applying the acquired knowledge and skills as mentioned above. The students will have competences to participate in the societal as well as the scientific discussion. Literature
The literature used in class will be presented in the syllabus. Readings will be available through the its-learning platform at least six weeks before the start of the course. 


Possible resources include:

Bridges, T and D Eubank (2020) Leading Sustainably: The path to Sustainable Business and how the SDGs changed everything. Routledge. ISBN-13: 978-0367428365

Wilson, C. (2020). Designing the Purposeful World: The Sustainable Development Goals as a Blueprint for Humanity. Greenleaf publishing. 
ISBN-13: 978-0815381327

Teaching Method

The course is a theoretical introduction to the SDGs, their background, challenges and their relation(s) to theoretical debates within the social sciences. The setting of the course is a one-week summer course with a mixed methods approach of lectures, cases, group work and presentations. Here, the students will get to know historical and economic underpinnings of the SDGs, their ethical considerations , their breadth , challenges of multi-criteria evaluation as well as the legal and political considerations in implementing the SDGs. The following issues will be addressed:

  • SDGs within the framework of global governance – a Global Sustainable Development Policy
  • Social-scientific approaches to understanding and achieving the SDGs.
  • Ethical considerations involving efforts to attain the SDGs
  • Breadth of the SDGs and challenges of multi-criteria evaluation
  • Legal and political considerations in implementing the SDGs


Scheduled classes:

Five days in August.


20 contact hours in a one week in-person course

35 hours preparation

15 hours group work and presentations at the course

65 hours exam paper

135 hours in total

Examination regulations





Exam: September
Reexam: September





Form of examination

Take-home assignment


Second examiner: None


7-point grading scale


Student Identification Card - Exam number




Four weeks. 


The extent of the report is 8-10 standard pages at most without table of content, reference list and appendix. A standard page is 2400 keystrokes inclusive space. A table or figure is 400 keystrokes. The number of keystrokes shall appear at the frontpage.

Examination aids

All examination aids are permitted.

Assignment handin

Electronic hand-in via Digital Exam.

ECTS value


Additional information

Individually written report after completion of the summer course. The report should develop a research question within the framework of the SDGs, relating to at least two SDGs. The research question should be answered applying accepted social science methodology and theory. An interdisciplinary as well as monodisciplinary approach is acceptable.

The topic of the report for the ordinary exam must not be used in the re-exam.



Courses offered

Offer period Offer type Profile Education Semester

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