Embedding Sustainability meaningfully

The Teaching and Learning Institute organises a seminar series where National Teaching Fellows and University Teaching Fellows from the University of Huddersfield share their expertise and experience.

Dr Carlo Fabricatore

Dr Carlo Fabricatore

In this session on 19th May, Dr Carlo Fabricatore talked about his work with embedding sustainability in the curriculum. Carlo was awarded a University Teaching Fellowship in 2015. His specialist teaching areas are game design and development, interaction design, software engineering, and management. His research interests are centred on the impacts of play and games on learning and human development in social communities and enterprises.

Making sustainability meaningful by active engagement of students

Carlo’s approach is based on the concept of wicked problems focussing on contextualising selected assignments so that students learn through actively engaging in sustainability-relevant, meaningful scenarios, rather than passively learning about sustainability through taught sessions. Wicked’ is used in this context to define complex problems which, among other traits, admit no definitive solution, nor can be described in a comprehensive way. Thus, they require continuous engagement, analysis and adaptation to cope with them, understanding them as much as possible to manage shifting equilibria rather than trying (pointlessly) to ‘control’ them.

Carlo started by saying that sustainability is not an add-on, it is everywhere thus addressing a constant voice concern from academics, namely that engaging with sustainability means adding content to their modules and courses.

Sustainability is multidimensional and consists of the interplay between environment, economic growth and social development – all interconnected. This is what makes it such a challenge but Carlo believes that students can benefit and develop from being challenged.

The role of the educator

Carlo also spent some time talking about the role of the educator and offered the interesting perspective that the educator was there to facilitate user experience, arguing that there is benefit in viewing learning as an experience and the educator as designing the learning experience/learning environment. During the talk, Carlo acknowledged that we work within structures, systems and processes that can be constraining to some activities but that you could view some constraint as enabling (but that some or too many could be disabling).


Fabricatore, C. and López, X. (2015) ‘Higher education in a complex world: nurturing “chaordic” influencers’. In: Sixth Advanced International Colloquium on Building the Scientific Mind (BtSM2015), 2015, 17-21 August, São Raimundo Nonato & Serra da Capivara, Piauí, Brazil , pp. 1-11 http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/28003/

Fabricatore, Carlo and López, Ximena (2014). Complexity-based learning and teaching: a case study in higher education. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 51 (6). pp. 618-630. ISSN 1470-3297. http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/22433/

Fabricatore, C. and López, X. (2013) ‘Fostering Creativity Through Educational Video Game Development Projects: A Study of Contextual and Task Characteristics’ Creativity Research Journal, 25 (4), pp. 418-425. ISSN 1040-0419 http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/22435/

For more publications, see Carlo Fabricatore’s staff profile and Researchgate profile:



Posted by Kathrine Jensen (@kshjensen), Research Assistant, Teaching and Learning Institute. The Teaching and Learning Institute coordinates, evaluates and disseminates inspiring and innovative teaching and learning. Follow TALI on Twitter


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