Stimulating Boundary Crossing Learning in a Multi-Stakeholder Learning Environment for Sustainable Development

C. Oonk*, J.T.M. Gulikers, P.J. den Brok, M. Mulder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Sustainable development requires multiple stakeholders to work and learn across practices, in other words, it requires boundary crossing competence. To prepare students for their future sustainability professions, higher education should facilitate the development of boundary crossing competence in its curricula. This study aims to confirm whether boundary crossing learning can be stimulated by workshop-based support in multi-stakeholder projects.
Design/methodology/approach: This quasi-experimental intervention study (N = 122) investigates the effect of a series of supporting workshops on students’ boundary crossing learning in multi-stakeholder projects. The workshops allowed students to adopt four learning mechanisms (identification, coordination, reflection and transformation) theorised to stimulate learning across boundaries between practices. Students followed zero, one, or two workshops. By analysing the student learning reports, the study examines the effect of the workshop intervention on students’ self-efficacy for stakeholder collaboration, the number of reported student-stakeholder collaborative activities and the reported boundary crossing learning mechanisms.
Findings: The results show that a series of two workshops increase the number of reported collaborative activities and activates the students’ boundary crossing learning in terms of reflection and transformation.
Research limitations/implications: These findings support the evidence-based design of multi-stakeholder learning environments for sustainable development and contribute to the body of knowledge regarding learning across practices.
Originality/value: Boundary crossing competence receives increasing attention as an asset for sustainable development. The added value of this study lies in its confirmation that the boundary crossing theory can be translated into directed educational support that can stimulate students’ boundary crossing learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-40
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2022


  • Boundary crossing
  • Higher education
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Multi-stakeholder learning environment
  • Sustainability
  • Transdisciplinary learning


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