Using Authentic Learning to help students address sustainability within organisations

By Dr Daniel Hempel and Dr Emily Chandler with Dr Sandeep Mysore Seshadrinath

Project FoodSave

To make learning more authentic and motivating for his INFS2603 Business Analysis students, Dr Sandeep Mysore Seshadrinath wanted to create a final assignment focused on the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs). Covering everything from climate change to poverty and economic growth, the SDGs form the UN’s roadmap to a better future by 2030. Working with Dr Daniel Hempel from the Educational Delivery Solutions (EDS) team, Sandeep delved into UNSW’s SDG Toolkit, a suite of flexible and cross-disciplinary learning resources produced by UNSW Sustainability in collaboration with EDS and academics from various faculties. Together, Sandeep and Daniel developed a business pitch competition for the INSF2603 students that made use of the SDG Toolkit, as well as the agile approach and design thinking taught in the course. 

Participants had to design and pitch a solution to help an Australian organisation better address the SDGs. Students chose an SDG and an organisation that appealed to the global problems they found most pressing. This element of choice was crucial for a truly authentic assessment. Students uploaded 5-minute video pitches to streaming services like YouTube or Microsoft Stream. These pitches described organisational problems and argued how their solution advanced their SDG. Sandeep made expectations clear, “The pitch is an opportunity ... to showcase your solution creatively. It should sell the value of your creation.” 

Students reacted with excitement when Sandeep announced the competition. Sandeep reflects, “Smiley emojis were posted when I announced it on Microsoft Teams, even though I posted late in the term." Thirty students took part in the competition. Industry professionals Will Syddall from UNSW Sustainability and Nayeem Mahmud from the International Institute of Business Analysis judged the entries. The winning team proposed FoodSave, an app targeting food waste. It connects people who do not have enough to eat with small-to-medium business who have food that would otherwise go to waste. This ties into SDG 2 'Zero Hunger', and 12 ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’. 

The runners-up came up with an app to help Unilever manage waste diversion and improve decision making. This solution addressed SDG 11 ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’ and 12 ‘Responsible Consumption and Production.' UNSW Sustainability awarded prizes to the winning teams, who could take pride in making inroads into industry. 


If you would like to run a pitch competition, implement the SDG Toolkit in your own course or explore other educational design solutions, please use the EDS consultation form to contact Educational Delivery Solutions for a one-to-one consultation or small group training session.  


Dr Sandeep Mysore Seshadrinath

Dr Sandeep Mysore Seshadrinath is a Senior Lecturer in Information Systems and Technology Management at UNSW Business School. His research interests lie in the social study of information systems with a special focus on digitally enabled social transformations. 


Dr Daniel Hempel

Dr Daniel Hempel is an Education Solutions Developer in Educational Delivery Solutions, PVCESE. He holds a PhD in Arts and Media and is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He leads design and development of UNSW’s Sustainable Development Goals Toolkit. 


Dr Emily Chandler

Dr Emily Chandler is an Education Solutions Developer in Educational Delivery Solutions, PVCESE. She holds a PhD in Media, Film and Theatre and is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She is passionate about accessibility and equity.