• Ref. Code: WS04

  • Chair: Karolien Van Riel and Rob De With

  • Duration: 2h

  • Organization: AP Hogeschool Antwerpen

The MINDS project aims to change young people’s attitudes towards sustainability using Virtual Reality (VR) for immersive storytelling, marking a significant shift in sustainability education. By making these complex issues more relatable and engaging, VR can help foster a deeper understanding and urgency for environmental matters. This workshop shares experiences from the project’s pilot, focusing on narrative techniques in sustainability education, addressing educational challenges, and enhancing skills in creating compelling environmental narratives. To ensure that the project’s outcomes are tailored to the needs and expectations of educators, we invite you to share your thoughts and challenges in sustainability education.

In recent years, the importance of sustainability has gained significant attention across sectors. To transition towards a more sustainable economy and society, a shift in mindset across all generations is imperative. Virtual Reality offers an unprecedented opportunity for immersive storytelling, which has recently become more accessible to consumers. This project will harness VR’s potential to create deeply engaging and transformative experiences that emphasize the urgency and importance of sustainability. The MINDS project aims to revolutionize the approach to sustainability education by leveraging the power of immersive storytelling, particularly through Virtual Reality (VR). The goal is to shift the mindset of young generations towards a more sustainable future through engaging and innovative learning methods.
This workshop is designed to share insights and experiences from the pilot that preceded the MINDS project, with a focus on harnessing the power of narrative in sustainability education. The session will emphasize persuasive storytelling techniques and explore participants’ needs for educational tools and the challenges they face in sustainable education. This workshop, offers a valuable opportunity for participants to delve into the art of storytelling, share experiences, and collaborate on innovative approaches to sustainability education.

Workshop Benefits:

  • Enhanced understanding in virtual reality as a powerful tool for sustainability education.
  • Practical experience in creating persuasive narratives for environmental awareness.
  • Opportunity to discuss and address challenges in sustainability education.
  • Networking with peers and professionals in related fields.


Part 1:

  • Introduction and Project Overview (30 minutes)
  • Welcome and introduction to the session.
  • An engaging presentation on the “Sustainable Minds” project, emphasizing its objectives, especially the development of persuasive storytelling guidelines.
  • Illustrating the impact of storytelling in sustainability education through case studies and examples.

Part 2:

  • Interactive Storytelling Exercise (30 minutes)
  • A guided interactive exercise where participants collaboratively create a short narrative focused on a sustainability theme.
  • This exercise is designed to demonstrate the principles of engaging and persuasive storytelling.

Part 3:

  • Group Discussion and Challenge Identification (30 minutes)
  • Participants break into small groups to discuss the role of storytelling in sustainability education in their respective contexts.
  • Each group identifies challenges they face in implementing sustainable education and proposes ideas for educational tools or solutions.
  • Emphasis on collaborative problem-solving and innovation.

Part 4:

  • Sharing Insights and Gathering Feedback (20 minutes)
  • Groups share their narratives and discuss the challenges and solutions they identified.
  • Facilitators collect feedback on the potential needs for a toolbox in sustainable education and address any identified challenges.
  • Open discussion to foster collective learning and exchange of ideas.

Part 5:

  • Conclusion and Future Steps (10 minutes)
  • Summarizing key insights and takeaways from the session.
  • Discussing potential next steps and opportunities for applying the learned storytelling techniques in various educational settings.
  • Closing remarks and an invitation to continue the dialogue beyond the workshop.

Karolien Van Riel
Karolien Van Riel is an expert in the field of sustainability, boasting an impressive background that merges academic prowess with professional expertise. Holding a degree in Business Engineering from the University of Antwerp, she has been a sustainability expert at AP Hogeschool since 2016. Since 2012, Karolien has been a part of AP Hogeschool, initially serving as the head of Applied Computer Science studies, later transitioning to a teaching role, and since 2023, she has taken up the mantle of research coordinator. Her academic contributions are noteworthy, with several books to her name, encompassing areas such as project management, economics, and sustainable business management.

Karolien currently chairs the sustainability working group of Businet, an international network of higher education institutions, reflecting her deep commitment to sustainability. Her professional and personal life is driven by a passion for sustainable and circular principles, with a primary goal of using her applied research to foster the circular transition in Flanders.

Rob De With
As the co-founder of the Global Goals Community and owner of ATWORKSOLUTIONS, Rob is deeply involved in integrating sustainable development into both educational and business settings. As an advisor and innovator in sustainable development, he champions the advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), striving to address global challenges such as poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation with the aim of achieving these goals by 2030.

At ATWORKSOLUTIONS, they focus on personal leadership and career development, utilizing methodologies from Myers & Briggs and Jung, combined with talent development strategies within a proven coaching framework. The training modules are designed to enhance the capabilities of both individuals and teams, aligning with strategic human resource objectives.

In collaboration with UNITAR Cifal-Flanders and the GlobalGoals.community, Rob leads the PCA2030 trajectory in the Netherlands. This initiative is aimed at empowering companies and organizations to make impactful transitions towards sustainability, ensuring that they are future-proof at every level of operation, including the individual employee level.