This project (2020-1-SE01-KA203-077872) has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


The Cosy project was presented in a number of events in order to report about the activities carried out and the results achieved.

The importance of sustainable thinking and sustainable development for education

Date: 28-08-2023
Location: Kaunas, Lithuania

The multiplier event – conference “The importance of sustainable thinking and sustainable development for education” gathered academical auditorium as most of the participants were from schools and VET centres.
The event brought together educators, researchers, and experts from diverse fields to explore innovative approaches to teaching complex systems thinking in higher education for the purpose of advancing sustainable development goals. The conference aimed to bridge the gap between theory and practice, equipping teachers with effective pedagogical methods to nurture a new generation of thinkers capable of addressing complex global challenges.

Enhancing Higher Education on Complex Systems Thinking for Sustainable Development

Date: 25-08-2023
Location: Kaunas, Lithuania

Two conferences organized within the project “Cosy Thinking” served as a dynamic events where more than 72 professionals from various sectors, such as Information Technology (IT) companies, higher education institutions, as well teachers and administration personnel from secondary education schools and VET centres gathered to explore the topics and intersections of sustainable development, complex systems, green skills, sustainable development competencies and IT solutions.
Participants, including IT company representatives and educators, found common solutions to collaborate on research projects together in the nearest future, to cooperate in curriculum development, and training programs, fostering a multidisciplinary approach to sustainable development education. Teachers from secondary education and VET sectors improved their theoretical skills and also found practical tools developed in the project and to be used for students to improve their skills and to have additional readings.

The Complexity of Sustainability

Date: 20-07-2023
Location: Thurles, Ireland

The CoSy Thinking project multiplier event took place in TUS Thurles Campus, Ireland, on the 20th July 2023. Irene Biancani and Yvonne Doyle organized the event in the main conference room of the campus, from 10am to 1.30pm. The participants in the event were mainly teachers, public organization officers, lecturers, students, and general public, who were invited by TUS to debate about sustainability, its importance in today’s world, and the relation with system thinking and why it matters to understand sustainable development. In total, the participants in the event were 43.
After a brief introduction and presentation of the CoSY Thinking project by Irene Biancani, the project manager, Clifford Guest from TUS gave an interesting lesson on sustainability and system thinking, referring to the topics of his course in the BSc - Environmental Science at TUS. During the coffee break, participants were invited to sign the participation form. Yvonne Doyle, Admin and Event Manager at TUS, continued the event with a workshop on participatory system mapping. The topic of discussion was the fashion industry. She explained what a participatory systema mapping is and then she invited the participants to split into 5 groups to discuss the given topic. Participants discovered and realized how a close sector of the market like clothes and fashion has, in reality, huge impacts on the overall system and environment. They were asked to present their findings to the other groups. Then, Irene Biancani concluded the event thanking the participants and teachers for their efforts and work.
In conclusion, the event was well developed, and participants were really involved in the debate. There was the opportunity for them to discuss and exchange opinions and ideas on sustainability and complexity, during the coffee break too. The feedback received from the event was overall positive.

The Complexity of a Sustainable Future

Date: 04-07-2023
Location: Perugia, Italy

Two distinct Universities are in Perugia (Italy): one is the “Università per gli Studi di Perugia” (with its legal headquarters in Piazza dell’Università 1, 06123 Perugia), wherein all the members of the UNIPG team participating to the CoSy Thinking project, work, and the other is the “Università per Stranieri di Perugia” (UNISTRAPG, with its legal headquarters in Piazza Fortebraccio 4, 06123 Perugia). We decided to organize the Multiplier Event at the “Università per Stranieri di Perugia” because the “Università per Stranieri di Perugia” has already set up an interdisciplinary undergraduate course on sustainability. Furthermore, UNISTRAPG hosts many foreign students. Therefore, UNISTRAPG offers a fertile environment to discuss the results of the CoSY Thinking project.

The Multiplier event took place in the “Aula Magna” of UNISTRAPG on the afternoon of the 4th of July, 2023. It was advertised on the website of the host institution at the following link: futuro-sostenibile. All the members of the UNIPG team spread the news and invited school teachers, policymakers of the public and private sectors. More than 40 people participated in the event. The majority of the participants belonged to the host institution, i.e., UNISTRAPG. Then, there were professors and students belonging to other universities and schools. Moreover, members of the industrial world and policymakers in charge of educational strategies were also present. Finally, all the members of the UNIPG team attended and actively participated in the multiplier event.

The Multiplier event began with a talk delivered by Prof. Guido Caldarelli of the “Università Ca’ Foscari” of Venice. Prof. Caldarelli is a theoretical physicist and an eminent scientist of Complex Systems. He also was president of the European Complex Systems Society. His research is focused on network science, and it is interdisciplinary. He is trying to model the behaviour of human societies, the world economy, and social networks. In his talk, Prof. Caldarelli highlighted the importance of network science to understand Complex Systems and outlined the most important concepts and methods to learn its basics. Then, Pier Luigi Gentili, leader of the UNIPG team and Professor of Physical Chemistry, presented the results of the CoSy Thinking project. First, he made an introduction to the global challenges that humanity is spurred to face. These global challenges involve Complex Systems, such as human beings and their societies, the world economy, urban areas, natural ecosystems, and the climate. Then, he showed the results achieved in the CoSy Thinking project by visiting all the main pages of the project’s website (, which are the “Inventory of Complex Systems”, the “Toolkit”, and the “Joint Curriculum”. Finally, he presented in more detail, the most relevant concepts and teaching methodologies to teach “Complex Systems Thinking” for promoting a sustainable future.

After the two introductory talks, a Round Table entitled “Generalist Teaching in Higher Education to Promote a Sustainable Development: Challenges and Perspectives. The contribution of the CoSy Thinking project” took place in the same “Aula Magna”. The chairpersons were Prof. David Grohmann (a member of the UNIPG team participating in the CoSy Thinking project and who is an environmental engineer) and Prof. Chiara Biscarini (belonging to UNISTRAPG and engineer). Prof. Piero Dominici (sociologist and philosopher), Maria Elena Menconi (environmental engineer), and Claudio Santi (organic chemist), all members of the UNIPG team participating in the CoSy Thinking project, along with Prof. Antonio Allegra (philosopher) and Cristina Gaggioli (pedagogue) of the host institution (UNISTRAPG) expressed their opinions. The members of the CoSy Thinking project explained the structure of the Master’s Degree in Complex Systems Thinking for Sustainability. They advocated the contents of the different courses and the teaching

methodologies which were proposed in the brand-new international curriculum. They also told the difficulties encountered in organizing the new course. The difficulties derive from the many disciplines involved. An interdisciplinary course can be successful only if an authentic dialogue among specialists of different disciplines is established. Another difficulty derived from the involvement of five universities belonging to just as many European countries. Nevertheless, a fascinating and promising course has been built. The members of the host UNISTRAPG told their experience about an interdisciplinary bachelor course on Sustainability they offer in their institution. The title of their course is “International Studies for Sustainability and Social Security”. The structure of the course can be found at the following link: The international and transdisciplinary perspective of their course allows students to know and understand the challenges of sustainability at an international, national and local level through the deepening of its environmental, social, economic and political aspects.

The professor of international law, Maura Marchegiani (responsible for the interdisciplinary bachelor course on sustainability at UNISTRAPG), and the microbiologist, Prof. Gianluigi Cardinali (member of the UNIPG team participating in the CoSy Thinking project) drew the conclusions of the multiplier event. We are all aware that, for a sustainable future, it is urgent to prepare the new generations to tackle global challenges. Facing global challenges means dealing with Complex Systems. Therefore, the theories and methodologies required to understand and describe Complex Systems must be taught to young generations. Relevant theories are (1) network science, (2) Out-of-equilibrium thermodynamics, and (3) non-linear dynamics. However, it is very instructive to tell our students the limits science encounters in understanding and predicting certain emergent properties of Complex Systems. Finally, the promising methodologies for facing the so-called Epistemological Complexity must be communicated. They are (a) interdisciplinarity in both research and teaching; (b) teaching focused on problem-solving to fight the typical pathologies of our students, which are amnesia, fantasia, and inertia; (c) handling Big Data because Complex Systems are usually dynamic and must be constantly monitored; (d) computer simulations as alternative ways for doing experiments on Complex Systems: (e) natural computing that draws inspiration from nature to propose new algorithms, new materials and architectures to compute, and new methodologies and models to understand Complex Systems.

Since the investigation into Complex Systems certainly requires new methodologies and models, some inspiration can come from the arts. Therefore, it was a pleasure to listen to the pianist Stefano Ragni who performed and commented on some songs having the beauty of natural ecosystems as their core subject. Finally, the multiplier event ended with a coffee break including a buffet. During this break, there was the possibility to further discuss the main topic of the event, know each other better, and confirm the reciprocal will of starting a productive collaboration between the two universities, UNPG and UNITRAPG, on the subject of “Complex Systems Thinking” for Sustainability.

Complex systems thinking for the promotion of sustainable development in higher education: Theory and Practice

Date: 30-06-2023
Location: Athens, Greece

The multiplier event was organized in the form of an interactive seminar in which the participants were given the possibility to set up questions, freely discuss issues and at the same time be introduced in a more practical manner in the field of complex systems thinking for sustainable development. A total of 18 people participated in the event. Fifteen of them were researchers with teaching duties affiliated with the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (UoA), while three were policy makers (with teaching degrees and long teaching experience in both secondary and tertiary education) affiliated with the Greek Ministry of Education.
After the initial introduction to the scope and contents of the COSY Project, the results of the first intellectual output (IO1) related with the Inventory of Complex Systems were presented. The official portal of the project was used as a basis for the presentations and participants were encouraged to search through by using the computers which were in front of them. Specific examples of publications from most thematic areas were analysed and discussed. Participants expressed strong interest on themes related with physical-environmental sciences, artificial intelligence and landscape planning but also were impressed to realize that complex systems thinking applies to a very wide range of disciplines also related with sociology, political science, etc. The presentations of the interviews from different employers as well the collection of best practices provided with valuable “food for thought” regarding the practical application and need of complex systems thinking as an indispensable ability for meeting the demands of today’s job market where issues related with sustainability are constantly arising.
The presentation of the results of the second intellectual output (IO2) related with the toolkit gave the opportunity for extensive interaction between the presenters and the participants as well as between the participants. The interactive tools (for example C-roads and Safe Chemical Design) and video lectures attracted especially the attention of the participants who thought that this material would be very useful for their own teaching activities but also for a wide range of courses. The same applies for several software applications which are reviewed in the COSY official portal, and which were presented to the participants, as for example those which are based on NetLogo. Finally, in this part of the seminar, the participants also had the chance to practice their own systems thinking skills via the use of the assessment tools, following encouragement by the presenter. They concluded that the existence of both correct and partially correct answers for each question contributes significantly to the promotion of complex systems thinking.
Following a short coffee break which took place at the cafeteria of the University of Athens, the second part of the seminar was devoted to the presentation and discussion of the third intellectual output (IO3), the Joint Curriculum. Some already existent curricula and courses uploaded on the COSY portal were presented in order to introduce participants to the main results of IO3 which is the syllabus of the Master’s program in Complex Systems Thinking for Sustainability. Participants pinpointed elements which provoked additional discussion as for example curricula and courses related with the field of bioeconomy. The design principles of the syllabus were discussed via the presentation of the courses of all semesters. Besides the course contents, special emphasis and discussion took place regarding the section of the learning outcomes of the courses. The section referring to the relevance of each course with complex systems thinking also provoked interaction within the group. The courses related with both STEM and Social Science and Humanities subjects attracted the interest of the participants.
The main conclusions reached are the following: Knowledge, skills and abilities related with complex systems thinking are indispensable in all citizens, and especially the younger ones, to meet the challenges of modern societies. These challenges are mainly related with the issue of sustainability and sustainable development. The theoretical underpinnings of complex systems as well as practical applications need to be introduced into the teaching praxis of all educational levels with an emphasis however on tertiary education. The first two intellectual outputs of the COSY project provide a series of multiple sources for promoting complex systems thinking (both theory and practice) especially in

How can we understand sustainability with the help of systems thinking?

Date: 08-06-2023
Location: Södertörn University, Huddinge, Sweden

- 15 participants: 6 professors, lecturers, PhD students and 9 experts and cosy project partners
- Experts in natural sciences, technology, environmental studies and social sciences presented courses of the joint curriculum for master education about Complex Systems Thinking for Sustainability.
- Workshop in groups working with methods for systems mapping. The subject for the workshop was food waste were sustainability matters and mapping of various factors and relations that have an impact on the current situation and look for opportunities for change
- Mingle with snacks
- Presentation of the results of the workshop by each group and discussions.
- Workshop facilitator Martin Jonsson, Södertörn University, Sweden with all participants
Results achieved:
- Presentation of the courses in different fields of the curriculum for a master program about complex systems thinking for sustainability to university teachers. Discussion about why we need to create learning experiences on complex systems thinking and what students and lifelong learners need to learn about complex systems thinking for sustainability. The discussion also included how students can learn complex systems thinking for sustainability.
- In the workshop the participants were testing a method for systems thinking, Participatory Systems Mapping, which is a participatory modelling methodology in which a group of stakeholders collaboratively develop a simple causal map of an issue. The presentation of the results of the workshop by each group and discussions were inspiring and highly appreciated by the participants.
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