Generation Nachhaltigkeit

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Generation Nachhaltigkeit | Konferenz 2010 | Programm | Abstracts | Stimulating Organizational Learning for Sustainability - Student Photovoltaic Projects in University Contexts

Stimulating Organizational Learning for Sustainability - Student Photovoltaic Projects in University Contexts

Freitag, 18.06.
14.15 - 16.15
Sektion: Sozial
Block: Bildung

Florian Lüdeke-Freund, Roman Trembacz, Timo Supply, Pascal Frank

Leuphana Universität Lüneburg



For two decades the Leuphana University of Lüneburg addresses socio‐ecological issues in research, education and administration. One lesson from past and current activities is that realizing ambitious sustainability projects within university contexts entails non‐trivial and sometimes fundamental organizational changes. Project examples are “Agenda 21 at the University of Lüneburg”(1999), “Sustainable University” (2004) and the mission statement of becoming a “Climate Neutral University” (2007). Creating an authentic “Climate Neutral University” gives rise to far reaching decision problems and asks for processes of multi‐level learning within the university. In this context this paper analyzes and tries to understand problems of and solutions for specific activities regarding the mission statement of climate protection; namely student photovoltaic projects (“UniSolar Lüneburg”). Perspectives from the field of organizational learning are considered as most promising theoretical approaches to analyze and understand such projects.


Basically, past, present and future sustainability projects are identified. An organizational learning perspective is applied to frame specific phases and mechanisms of organizational developments towards realizing the university’s mission statement. Empirical facets are discussed against the theoretical background of organizational learning. Finally, this frame is used to explore student activities dealing with photovoltaic projects.


From an organizational learning perspective, formalized and shared knowledge are necessary but insufficient preconditions for complex sustainability related projects in universities. If universities follow ambitious mission statements they have to continuously trigger individuals’ willingness and ability to learn, generate new kinds of knowledge and contribute to organizational problem solving. Student sustainability projects such as photovoltaic help stimulate organizational learning at different levels going far beyond students.


A conceptual perspective is developed for analyzing organizational learning in university contexts. Innovative student projects are introduced.


Organizational Learning, Climate Neutral University, Photovoltaic Project, UniSolar