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.

In 2017, a group of teacher educators at the Faculty of Education at the University of Helsinki initiated the Sustainable World Heritage Learning through a Phenomenon-based Approach (SveaSus) project with its base on the World Heritage Site Suomenlinna. All dimensions of sustainability become obvious when World Heritage sites are purposefully used for 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 inspiration and learning environment, SveaSus is a unique teaching and learning experiment. Through the phenomena ecologic, economic, social and cultural sustainability issues related to place, and to various 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 pre-service-teachers', in-service-teachers', other (future) educational professionals' 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, public and private sector. In focus are teacher education and schools. The project team members and partners, 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 philosophy of education (esp. phenomenology and Bildung theories)  
  • 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 students' group work take place in real-life learning environments (mainly on Suomenlinna island) as well as online (during Covid-19 restrictions)
  • offer 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 place-based learning, embodied learning and art-based methods in sustainability education
  • strengthen the multilingual/cultural basis of the project (since spring 2021 the linguistic repertoire of SveaSus has formed a pluralistic plateau with participants — students, lecturers, researchers, artists and performers fluent in more than two or three languages). 
Final Seminar and the Art Exhibition

On Monday September the 25th, 2023 the final seminar of the research and development project Sustainable World Heritage Learning through a Phenomenon-based Approach (SveaSus) was arranged. 
The project members thank all of the presenters and participants who made the seminar successful!

During the same week the project also arranged an exhibition on the Faculty of Educational Sciences campus with art works made by students on the 2023 SveaSus course. 

Research team

Project leader (2017-2024): Lili- Ann Wolff
Doctoral researcher (2023-2024) and project assistant (2021-2022): Emma Heikkilä
Project assistant (2020-2021): Wilhelm Blomberg 

Martina Aaltonen (2021-2023)
Kirsi Aarbakke (2021-2024)
Hannah Kaihovirta (2017-2023)
Pia Mikander (2017-2023)
Marjo Savijärvi (2017-2023)
Birgit Schaffar-Kronqvist (2017-2024)
Anna Slotte (2017-2024)
Marianna Vivitsou (2021-2023)
Kirsi Wallinheimo (2017-2024)

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. 



A trilingual anthology "Hållbarhetspedagogik, fenomenbaserat lärande och världsarv | Sustainability education, phenomenon-based learning, and world heritage | Kestävän kehityksen kasvatus, ilmiöpohjainen oppiminen ja maailmanperintö" edited by Lili-Ann Wolff, Anna Slotte and Kirsi Wallinheimo. The book will contain 16 chapters on the experiences of the SveaSus project. The chapters include both popular and academic items. HELDA Open Books. 

Articles and Book Chapters

Wolff, L-A., Heikkilä, E., Wallinheimo, K., & Blomberg, W. (will be published 7.4.2024). When a phenomenon-based university course went online: Students’ experiences and reflections after sauna bathing. In S. Puiu, & S. O. Idowu (Eds.), Online education in COVID-19 and beyond (CSR, Sustainability, Ethics & Governance). Springer.

Schaffar, B., & Wolff, L-A. (2024). Phenomenon-based Learning in Finland: A Critical Overview of its Historical and Philosophical Roots. Cogent Education, 11(1), Article 2309733. 

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). 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., Laherto, A., Cheah, S., Vivitsou, M., & Autio, M. (2022). Transformation toward sustainability in Finnish teacher education policy: Promises and shortcomings. Frontiers in education7, [856237].

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). PDF available here

More articles are in progress.

Presentations in relation to the project

2023, ECER2023, Conference, Glasgow, United Kingdom, Sustainability as a transformative learning aim: Challenges and potentials, Wolff, L-A. & Heikkilä, E.

2023, NOFA9 Symposium: Sustainable World Heritage Learning through a Phenomenon-based Approach, Conference, Vaasa, Finland, Wolff, L-A. (Speaker: Chair), Heikkilä, E. (Speaker: Presenter) & Vivitsou, M. (Speaker: Chair)

  • Sustainable World Heritage learning through a phenomenon-based approach, Wolff, L-A. & Schaffar-Kronkvist, B.
  • The role of emotions on sustainability matters in teacher education, Heikkilä, E.
  • Epistemic matters in video storytelling for social sustainability - The narrative of collaboration as struggle, Vivitsou, M.

2023, Conversation Research Days, University of Turku: Tervetuloa myös suomeksi. Kaksikielisen opetuspuheen muotoutuminen monikielisellä opintojaksolla. Savijärvi, M., Juvonen, R. & Kuosa, A-M. 

2022, FERA Connference, University of Oulu, Monikielisen opettamisen käytänteitä opettajankoulutuksessa. Savijärvi, M. & Kuosa, A-M.

2022, Green transitions workshop: Utdanning for bærekraftig utvikling i lærerutdanningene, Workshop, University of Stavanger, Norway, 

  • Resources for participation in virtual improvisations workshops, Savijärvi, M. & Kaihovirta, H. 

  • Collaborative struggles and boundary work with audio-visual methods for learning social sustainability, Vivitsou, M.

  • Phenomenon-based learning on Suomenlinna: Sustainability and World Heritage, Wolff, L-A.  

2022, Lærerseminar om bærekraft i skolen, Seminar, University of Stavanger, Norway, SVEASUS! Hvordan lager man relevant, tverrfaglig bærekraftsutdanning for lærerstudenter?, Wolff, L-A. & Heikkilä, E. 

2022, Sustainability Science Days Conference 2022, Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS) and Aalto University, Metaphors of sustainability and transformation in the Covid-19 era in the context of hybrid online university pedagogy – the case of SveaSus, safe spaces & group work. Vivitsou, M. & Wolff, L-A. 

2022, Forum Filiorum seminarium, University in Stavanger, Arbeid med bærekraftig utvikling i barnehagen og barnehagelærerutdanningen. Skarstein, T. & Wolff, L-A.

2022, WiP Seminar on Intersubjectivity in Interaction, Helsinki, Finland, Verbal and embodied participation in video-based improv workshops, Savijärvi, M. & Kaihovirta, H.  

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. 

Support group:

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), doctoral researcher at the University of the Arts Helsinki, choreographer and dance performer.
  • Paul Moerman, University Lecturer and teacher educator, doctoral researcher at the University of Jyväskylä, dancer, actor and literary translator
  • Wilhelm Blomberg (2022-2024), BA (education), environmental activist, artist, educational student 

Biodiversity experts: 

  • Riitta Nykänen, Environmental Educator 
  • Marco Barroca-Paccard, Accociate Professor in La Haute école pédagogique du canton de Vaud

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, 
Doctoral researcher, Emma Heikkilä, 


For more news and updates, visit the SveaSus blog.