Teaching Sustainable Business Models— A Modeling-Driven Approach


  • Maren Stadtlaender University of Hildesheim
  • Thorsten Schoormann University of Hildesheim
  • Ralf Knackstedt University of Hildesheim




Purpose. This study reports on a master-level university course that teaches sustainability by conveying factual and methodological knowledge in terms of business model development.

Design/methodology/approach. We designed the course based on several years of experience and knowledge obtained from previous iterations. For evaluating the course’s usefulness, we used standardized questionnaires and a focus group.

Findings. We complement the body of courses on business models by presenting a master-leveled course design seeking to enhance students’ awareness for acting sustainably utilizing a business model development perspective, and a set of lessons learned and recommendations to be employed by, for example, course designers.

Research limitations/implications. By focusing on business model development, we gathered promising results indicating an increased awareness to act sustainably. Thereby we open further research avenues that, for instance, may investigate the effect of specific tools on students’ awareness or behavior, explore the applicability of existing tools within a university context, or develop new tools for supporting students in gaining an understanding of sustainability via business model development.

Practical implications. Course designers and lecturers in particular can apply the presented design and draw on the experiences and recommendations we obtained from performing our course to create or refine existing/new university courses.

Originality/value. We provide valuable insight on how to design business model courses that empower students to contribute to sustainable development by describing a suitable structure, assignments, and content.

Keywords. Business Model Development, Business Model Modeling, Software Support, Sustainability, Information Systems Education

Article Classification. Case study






Special Issue: Teaching Business Models