SveaSus: Sustainable World Heritage Learning Through a Phenomenon-based Approach
World Heritage is a platform for the development of new approaches to demonstrate the relevance of heritage for sustainability.

The influence of human activity on all dimensions of sustainability becomes obvious when World Heritage sites become learning environments. Therefore, World Heritage sites act as bridges to learning. Integrating sustainability into World Heritage processes encompasses capacity building across a wide range of fields.

With sustainability as the focus, phenomenon-based learning as an approach and World Heritage as both goal and learning environment, Sustainable World Heritage Learning through a Phenomenon-based Approach (SveaSus) is a unique teaching and learning experiment at the Faculty of Education at the University of Helsinki. Through the phenomena ecologic, economic, social and cultural sustainability issues related to place, and to different temporalities are in focus for learning and educational development.

Project aim

The overall aim of the SveaSus project is to contribute to sustainable societal transformation by means of inter- and transdisciplinary research and education. In this way, SveaSus aims to strengthen student teachers', in-service-teachers' and teacher educators’ understanding of sustainability issues and encourage joint action towards a more sustainable future.   

The project co-creates knowledge through research, experiments, living labs and best practices for educational policy, the private sector and society, especially teacher education and schools. The project team members, who are themselves teacher educators, answer to the call to take action in order to manage the complex and urgent sustainability dilemmas in the Anthropocene epoch with climate change being a serious threat.  

Poster about SveaSus
Project activities

The learning activities of SveaSus aim to: 

  • Introduce sustainability-related themes into teacher education drawing from the fields of climate justice, climate racism, intersectionality and global education.  

  • Further explore the process of establishing a safer space, in which the group members’ relationships and ties grow and in which community values are jointly shaped. The study of group work will take place in real-life learning environments (mainly on Suomenlinna island) as well as online. 

  • Open up opportunities for students to co-teach with lecturers, artists and performers and, thus to cross boundaries by trying out alternative ways of participatory learning.  

  • Innovate teacher education by introducing embodied learning and art-based methods in sustainability education.

  • Strengthen the multilingual/cultural basis of the project. The linguistic repertoire of SveaSus formed a pluralistic plateau with participants — students, lecturers, researchers, artists and performers fluent in more than two or three languages since spring 2021. 

Research team

Project leader: Lili- Ann Wolff
Research assistant Emma Heikkilä

Martina Aaltonen
Kirsi Aarbakke
Hannah Kaihovirta
Pia Mikander
Marjo Savijärvi
Birgit Schaffar-Kronqvist
Anna Slotte
Marianna Vivitsou
Kirsi Wallinheimo

Visiting Scholar from Université du Québec en Outaouais: 
Marco Barroca-Paccard (marco.barroca-paccard[a]

The SveaSus research team members are included in the research group Diversity, Multilingualism and Social Justice at the Faculty of Educational Sciences. Click here for more information on the researchers.

Data Protection Notice

The Data Protection Notice is only available in Swedish.
Please contact the project leader Lili-Ann Wolff  for more information in English. 

Recent publications

Heikkilä, E. (2022). Sustainability through a Phenomenon-based learning approach - A study of student reflections. Helsingfors: Helsingfors Universitet (Master's Thesis). 

Vivitsou, M. (2020). Digital storytelling in teaching and research. teoksessa A. Tatnall (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Education & Information Technologies. Cham: Springer.   

Wolff, L-A. (2022). Biodiversity education. In S. Idowu, R. Schmidpeter, N. Capaldi, L. Zu, M. del Baldo, & R. Abreu (Eds.), Encyclopedia of sustainability management. Cham: Springer Nature. 

Wolff, L-A. (2022). Phenomenon-based learning. I S. Idowu, R. Schmidpeter, N. Capaldi, L. Zu, M. Del Baldo, & R. Abreu (Red.), Encyclopedia of sustainable management. Cham: Springer Nature. 

Wolff, L-A. (2022, in press). Ethics of sustainability education. In S. Idowu, R. Schmidpeter, N. Capaldi, L. Zu, M. del Baldo, & R. Abreu (Eds.), Encyclopedia of sustainability management. Cham: Springer Nature.  

Wolff, L-A. (2022). Transdisciplinary learning. In S. Idowu, R. Schmidpeter, N. Capaldi, L. Zu, M. del Baldo, & R. Abreu (Eds.), Encyclopedia of sustainability management. Cham: Springer Nature. 

Wolff, L-A. (2022). Transformative learning. I S. Idowu, R. Schmidpeter, N. Capaldi, L. Zu , M. Del Baldo, & R. Abreu (Red.), Encyclopedia of sustainable management. Cham: Springer Nature. 

Wolff, L-A. & Ehrström, P. (2020). Social sustainability and transformation in higher educational settings: A utopia or possibility? Sustainability, 12(10), 4176.

Wolff, L-A., Kaihovirta, H., Schaffar-Kronqvist, B., Savijärvi, M., Wallinheimo, K., Mikander, P., & Slotte, A. (2019). Ilmiöoppiminen yhteistyönä Suomenlinnassa. In M. Metsärinne, T. Heino, R. Korhonen, & M. Esko (Eds.), Maailmanperintö ja kulttuurikasvatus (pp. 148-159). Rauman Normaalikoulu Teacher Training School. (eng. Phenomenon-based learning as collaboration in Suomenlinna. World Heritage and cultural education)

Wolff, L-A., Savijärvi, M., Wallinheimo, K., Schaffar, B., Slotte, A., Mikander, P., & Kaihovirta, H. (2019). Learning together and value reflection in teacher education. Suomen ainedidaktisen tutkimusseuran julkaisuja. Ainedidaktisia tutkimuksia, 16, 116-143. (fin. Yhdessä oppimista ja arvopohdintaa opettajankoulutuksessa; swe. Lärande tillsammans och värdetänkande i lärarutbildningen) 

Wolff, L-A., Vivitsou, M. & Aarbakke, K. (2022). SveaSus: Sustainable World Heritage learning through a phenomenon-based approach. In Grenni, P., & Gašparović, S. (Eds.). PHOENIX Cost Action ca19123 - Protection, resilience, rehabilitation of damaged environment: Proceedings of the 2022 Rome Meeting - Rome, 19-22 January 2022 ( p. 90-92). Rome: Water Research institute, National Research Council of Italy (IRSA-CNR).

Presentations in relation to the project

19.04.2022, Forum Filiorum seminarium, University in Stavanger, Arbeid med bærekraftig utvikling i barnehagen og barnehagelærerutdanningen. Skarstein, T. & Wolff, L-A.

2022, Ainedidaktinen symposiumi, Online Conference, Phenomenon-based learning and sustainability, Wolff, L-A. & Schaffar-Kronqvist, B.  

2022, PHOENIX Main Conference - Rome 2022 (EU Cost action), Conference, Rome, Italy, SveaSus-Sustainable World Heritage Learning through a Phenomenon-based Approach (poster), Wolff, L-A., Vivitsou, M, & Aarbakke, K.  

2021, Ainedidaktiikan symposiumi 2021, Conference online, Hållbarhetpedagogik som politik, undervisning och forskning: Från kompetens till fenomen (sustainability education as politics, teaching and research: from competence to phenomenon), Wolff, L-A.  

2021, Finnish Conference for Educational Research, Conference, Jyväskylä, Learning about phenomena related to sustainability in SveaSus – The students’ perspectives, Vivitsou, M., Heikkilä, E. M. S. & Wolff, L-A.  

2021, Fourth Joint Staff Training Event Developing Primary Teacher Education Research, Seminar, Helsinki, SveaSus: Sustainable worldheritage learning through a phenomenon based approach, Wolff, L-A. & Vivitsou, M. 

2021, Kasvatustieteen päivät 2021, Jyväskylän yliopisto, Conference, Osallistamisen keinoja virtuaalisessa improtyöpajassa, Kaihovirta, H. & Savijärvi, M.  

2021, Lasten ja nuorten ehdoilla?/På barnens och de ungas ansvar? (The children's and young people's responsibility?), The Faculty of Education’s alumni event, Helsinki, Hållbarhet, utbildning och Covid-19 situationen (Sustainability, education and the Covid-19 situation), Wolff, L-A. (SveaSus also mentioned briefly) 

2021, Nordisk konferanse om bærekraft i utdanning, Conference, Oslo, Norway, Phenomenon-based learning in Suomenlinna: Sustainability and Word Heritage (Fenomenbaserat lärande på Sveaborg: Hållbarhet och världsarv), Wolff, L-A. & Schaffar-Kronqvist, B. 

2021, Nordisk konferanse om bærekraft i utdanning, Conference, Oslo, Norway, Konstbaserade metoder i hållbarhetspedagogik på Sveaborg - Ett sätt att främja lärarnas helhetliga lärande, Aarbakke, K. 

2019, Ainedidaktiikan symposiumi 2019, Seminar, Helsinki, Ilmiöopetus Suomenlinnassa: Kokemuksia opettajakoulutuksen kokeiluhankkeesta (Phenomenon based learning on Suomenlinna: Experiences from a pilot project in teacher education), Wolff, L-A., Wallinheimo, K. M. & Savijärvi, M.  

2019, Hell-seminaret for lærerutdannere, Seminar, Trondheim, Norway, Keynote about sustainability in Finnsish teacher education. Wolff, L-A.  

2019, Seminar on sustainability in teacher education, Seminar, Helsinki, Phenomenon based world heritage learning with sustainability in focus, Kaihovirta, H. & Wolff, L-A.  

2019, Sustainable World Heritage Education, Seminar, Helsinki, Phenomenon based learning on Suomenlinna, Wolff, L-A., Savijärvi, M. & Wallinheimo, K.  

2018, Campusseminarium, Seminar, Helsinki, Campus seminar on interdisciplinary collaboration and bilingualism. Titel of presentation: Phenomen based learning on Sveaborg: Project for student teachers (Fenomenbaserat lärande på Sveaborg: Projekt för blivande klasslärare), Wolff, L-A. & Schaffar-Kronqvist, B. 

Collaborators and partners

SveaSus broadens the scope of project activities, approaches and methods through collaboration with a multidisciplinary support group, research partner projects, organizations and associations, and partner schools in Finland and abroad. 

Support group:

Since March 2021, the SveaSus team has been collaboratesing with the following artistic partners:

  • Andrew Morrish, MA (education) an international facilitator, mentor and advocate of improvisation, performance, dance education, dance therapy and dance research. 
  • Veli Lehtovaara, MA (choreography), PhD student at the University of the Arts Helsinki, choreographer and dance performer.

The project has received funding from the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland and the Helsinki Institute of Sustainable Science (HELSUS) at the University of Helsinki. 

Contact information

Project leader, Associate professor Lili-Ann Wolff, 
Research assistant, Emma Heikkilä, 
Postdoctoral researcher, Marianna Vivitsou,  


For more news and updates, visit the SveaSus blog.