Conference Paper

Raising awareness on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through Lego Serious Play (LSP)

To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.


In September 2015, world leaders agreed on a new sustainable development agenda based on a set of global goals aimed at eradicating poverty, ensuring planet protection and guaranteeing prosperity for future generations (Stafford-Smith et al., 2017). Since then, the education sector has played a fundamental role, not only raising awareness among young people about the importance of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but also promoting innovative ideas around sustainability (Owens, 2017). SDGs implementation needs of business actors rethinking their understanding of economic growth, taking into consideration not only economic aspects but also social and ecological concerns (Crespo et al., 2017). Thus, the traditional paradigm based on continuous economic expansions needs to adopt a triple bottom line perspective (Slaper and Hall, 2011). In this context, it is remarkable to bring economic and business students closer to the importance of SDGs, involving them in the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. For this purpose, a LEGO Serious Play (LSP) workshop is held to envision a more sustainable tomorrow and collectively reflect on the main challenges of our society from the business perspective (Kristiansen and Rasmussen, 2014). LSP is an unconventional methodology based on brick-building and metaphoric storytelling. It involves kinesthetic learning given that participants are asked to build metaphoric structures with Lego bricks that respond to a challenge raised by the instructor. This hands-on methodology is often accompanied by facilitated reflection, becoming a language for emotional content and promoting discussion around complex issues (Peabody and Noyes, 2017). The workshop started with an introduction to LSP for students to familiarize themselves with its dynamics. Then, a challenge related to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was raised by the instructors who accompanied students through the process of strategic thinking. The last part of the workshop was devoted to sharing ideas and reflections among participants, both regarding the designed prototypes and the potential of LSP for developing new ideas. This last phase was developed firstly within the different work groups and, after, with the broader group so that participants could receive the feedback of their fellows before presenting the prototypes to all participants. To analyze the results of this innovative education project, we conducted a survey among participants about LSP methodology, workshop dynamics and skills acquisition using a Likert scale. The results show how LSP is especially suitable to foster ideation around SDGs since it raises awareness and understanding about how these goals might be integrated into daily business initiatives. It also allows participants to significantly improve their communication and problem-solving skills. This suggests LSP methodology is suitable in higher education contexts as it allows students to reflect on complex issues through an ideation process where kinesthetic learning plays a crucial role. LSP speeds up the process of finding sustainable solutions and allows unconscious ideas to take shape in 3D. It also helps students to foster self-confidence as well as network with other students, given its socializing nature. All in all, students develop key skills for their professional development.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Full-text available
Sustainable development is acquiring high attendance in higher education. In fact, one of the targets for the Sustainable Development Goals announced by the United Nations in September 2015 aims to ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, thorough education on sustainable development. The current study focuses on the evaluation of individual works based on the sustainable development suggested to students in a subject of the Master’s of Thermal Engineering at the University of Vigo. In addition, a sustainable holistic rubric is presented, which was used to analyze the ability of the students to incorporate sustainability principles in their work. The rubric was based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the associated targets of the United Nations, more specifically on the Goals 7, 8, 12, and 13. A total of 10 works were evaluated. As a general conclusion, it was found that the students generally do not consider or consider to a lower extent the economic criteria opposite to the environmental, technical, and social dimensions. The environmental sub-criterion were applied to a greater extent in the development of the works. However, the technical and social dimensions were included to a greater or lesser extent depending on the type of work developed.
Full-text available
On 25 September, 2015, world leaders met at the United Nations in New York, where they adopted the Sustainable Development Goals. These 17 goals and 169 targets set out an agenda for sustainable development for all nations that embraces economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental protection. Now, the agenda moves from agreeing the goals to implementing and ultimately achieving them. Across the goals, 42 targets focus on means of implementation, and the final goal, Goal 17, is entirely devoted to means of implementation. However, these implementation targets are largely silent about interlinkages and interdependencies among goals. This leaves open the possibility of perverse outcomes and unrealised synergies. We demonstrate that there must be greater attention on interlinkages in three areas: across sectors (e.g., finance, agriculture, energy, and transport), across societal actors (local authorities, government agencies, private sector, and civil society), and between and among low, medium and high income countries. Drawing on a global sustainability science and practice perspective, we provide seven recommendations to improve these interlinkages at both global and national levels, in relation to the UN’s categories of means of implementation: finance, technology, capacity building, trade, policy coherence, partnerships, and, finally, data, monitoring and accountability. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11625-016-0383-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Agenda 2030 for sustainable development focuses attention on lifelong learning opportunities for all. The new targets expand on their predecessors, the Millennial Development Goals, by both widening and deepening the scope of system-wide quality education systems. Whilst the Millennial Development Goals focused attention on universal primary attainment, the Sustainable Development Goals introduce tertiary education into the global development agenda. Higher education was an important consideration in the 2000 Dakar framework, but it was not included as a target. Instead, it appeared indirectly as a supportive pathway to other goals such as youth skills or quality teacher. Now, higher education plays a key role as a means to achieving Goal 4 on education: inclusive, equitable and quality education for all. This article evaluates the introduction of higher education into the development agenda and the introduction of the SDGs into the parallel but fragmented multilateral and university agendas. It concludes by specifying two factors that are essential if higher education is to play a revitalised role in the sustainable development framework: publicly-funded research and regional higher education partnerships.
Building a Better Business Using the Lego Serious Play Method
  • R Kristiansen
  • R Rasmussen
Kristiansen, R., & Rasmussen, R. (2014). Building a Better Business Using the Lego Serious Play Method. Hoboken: Wiley.