Study Semester "Principles of Sustainable Business"

Titelfoto Studiengangsseite Study Semester “Principles of Sustainable Business”

Take on the challenge and shape our future – your actions matter!

As one of the projects of the UN-Decade “Education for Sustainable Development”, our Study Semester implements the maxims of the global sustainability movement. This means teaching about the complex economic, ecological and social origins of today’s megatrends such as climate change, demography, resource management and intergenerational justice.

We believe that knowledge has to be filled with life. These challenges need real-life solutions; accordingly we want to educate game-changers who are able to

  • Think ahead and address the megatrends
  • Interconnect their respective fields by working in international teams and profiting from each other’s diverse knowledge
  • Act autonomously and approach problems with fresh ideas
  • Have a say and take part in society’s decisions

Your excellent conditions

  • All modules taught in English
  • Fully credited with 30 ECTS points per semester
  • Small courses
  • Stay for 1 or 2 semesters
  • Live on-campus in Birkenfeld, Germany
  • No tuition fees

Application deadlines

Summer semester (March to July): 1 November

Winter semester (September to January): 1 May

It’s your turn: Explore Sustainability in Germany!

Are you studying business, ecology or environmental science and want to acquire key qualifications in sustainable management? Take part in a one or two semester intensive course and learn how companies gain valuable advantages in the international market and prosper by implementing sustainable business solutions.

Gain hands-on experience of successful sustainable projects and experience how to adapt to today’s main challenge of integrating business success and sustainability. Meet the experts on successful environmental management at the Environmental Campus Birkenfeld. You can find out about Germany, its regulatory and business approach to today’s environmental challenges. Last but not least, you visit fascinating business and cultural sites.

Modules Summer Semester

Module 1: Sustainable Climate and Technology

Guide to the future: The effects of climate change are being felt all over the planet. Germany’s answer is is state-sponsored climate protection measure at municipal level, tackling climate change through implementation of a wide range of measures and new technologies while contributing to regional value creation. Let’s see what we can learn from the fascinating construction principles and processes of nature that bionics shows us.

Module 2: Geoengineering

A response to climate change: Geoengineering may result in undesirable side effects for crucial parts of the earth system and humankind. A  lot of techniques are under discussion to alter the climate. This module introduces some of the concepts such as CCS, solar radiation management, ocean fertilization and others. Ethical aspects of such technologies are discussed as well as the legal and political framework.

Module 3: Land Use and Material Flow Management

Land is the basis: Land is the beginning and the end of any life cycle, the base for industrialization and food. Classical economists had a broad perception of land, which included all that we today call “nature”. As we cannot increase land itself we are forced to make the best and most efficient use of it. As a sensible way of integrating nature and technologies, material flow management points the way to an intelligent, resource-efficient utilization of material and energy flows.

Module 4: Fundamentals of Entrepreneurial Management

Good ideas need entrepreneurs: This module aims to raise fundamental elements of managerial competences needed in the field of entrepreneurship. Lessons will cover topics such as financing of ventures and funding alternatives, corporate financial modeling as well as areas such as marketing and cost accounting. We strive to improve the chances of entrepreneurial success for our students and their ideas for a more sustainable future.

Module 5: Consumer Culture and Strategic Marketing

Do good and talk about it: We will question the continuing validity of the traditional equation: human progress = economic growth, and discuss the impact on corporate social responsibility generally of consumers’ developing sense of responsibility towards our environment. Step by step we will illustrate how companies have to employ strategic marketing management in order to understand markets and optimize the relations between companies and customers.

Module 6: German and International Business Culture

Successful business is both global and local: As an introduction into German business culture and society, this course teaches about the 2000-year tradition of natural protection, why "quite good" means "excellent" and why management needs permission to let you work overtime. We will further look at intercultural perspectives and gain insights into neighboring cultures. This lays the groundwork for your visits to businesses and sites in the region where Germany, France and Luxemburg meet and where global and local business practices are forged.

Modules Winter Semester

Module 1: Circular Economy

A critical tool for sustainable development: The circular economy boosts the EU's competitiveness by protecting businesses against scarcity of resources and volatile prices, helping to create new business opportunities and innovative, more efficient ways of producing and consuming. Be part of weeklong activities and site visits to showcase, demonstrate and share knowledge on the latest advancements.

Module 2: Industrial Ecology and Life Cycle Assessment

Nature knows best: Industrial Ecology Management is based on a thorough understanding of ecological principles and systems. This module focuses on innovative Industrial Ecology applications like eco-industrial networks, resilience management and recycling concepts for critical materials. Lessons will cover the application of a Life Cycle Assessment Software Tool where students will learn how to calculate Product Carbon Footprints.

Module 3: Cases in Sustainability and Management

Theory is just half story – get in the game: We believe that practical application needs to be an integral part of education. In this module, you will have the opportunity to explore the practical aspects of the various facets of sustainable entrepreneurship in small teams for an intense learning experience. This module might be organized as an excursion in close cooperation with partner institutions and/or companies.

Module 4: Ecological Economics and Policies

The framework for future politics: Discuss the concept of external effects and different means of internalization with regard to the background of their impact on property rights. Explore the world of carbon and resource management as well as energy transition, all key issues which today’s decision makers have to handle daily.

Module 5: Sustainable Technology

The greatest challenge of our time:Globally, we will face more and more questions regarding sustainability in the field of environmental engineering. Rising costs for resources and energy, a limited range of fossil energy sources, and the climate change are only three main issues which have to be solved by mankind within the mid-term future. We will explore the different fields of environmental technology and discuss actual topics in research for a sustainable world.

Module 6: German and International Business Culture

Successful business is both global and local: As an introduction into German business culture and society, this course teaches about the 2000-year tradition of natural protection, why "quite good" means "excellent" and why management needs permission to let you work overtime. We will further look at intercultural perspectives and gain insights into neighboring cultures. This lays the groundwork for your visits to businesses and sites in the region where Germany, France and Luxemburg meet and where global and local business practices are forged.

Meet the Team

Study Coordination:

Julia Mertens

Julia is the Study Coordinator of the Study Semester. She studied Environmental Business Administration at the Environment Campus and was an assistant in the Faculty Environmental Business/Environmental Law for 6 years. She now focuses on establishing further international programs in Birkenfeld. She will be happy to help you with application procedures, visa matters, house hunting or any other questions concerning formalities and content. Whenever you feel like wanting to know more about the Study Semester, please do not hesitate to contact her.

Faculty Members:

Silvia Carvalho

Born in Africa, and brought up in New York, Sílvia graduated with honors from the O.L.P.H. Business School in New York and proceeded with her university literary studies at the Universidade Clássica of Lisbon. Later, she acquired a doctorate degree in American Literary Studies at the University of Saarland, Germany, where she offered several seminars on American literature, visual arts and culture. She is presently a lecturer of English for Special Purposes at the Environmental Campus Birkenfeld. Due to her multi-cultural background and a life-long experience within various cultures, Sílvia’s main academic interests focus on intercultural exchanges and on researching towards an enlightened understanding of business across borders.

Peter Fischer-Stabel

Peter holds a professorship for Geomatics Technology at our university. He studied Geography, Computer Science and Hydrology. After working in the German Environmental Specimen Banking Program (Federal Environmental Protection Agency), he joined the European Space Agency in Rome, addressing issues of geo-spatial data integration. He chairs the Institute for Software Systems (ISS). Ongoing research activities focus on environmental management & information systems and ecological effects of the implementation of renewable energies. He is also a Ranger in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Bliesgau.

Susanne Hartard

Susanne is Professor of Industrial Ecology. She studied Agrobusiness and Ecological Environmental Safety Management at the University of Kassel. Her 20-year professional career includes environmental advisory activities in sustainable waste management and recycling projects and work on national material flow management concepts. She worked as a researcher at the Universities of Kassel, Weimar and Darmstadt. In the Study Semester she is teaching Life Cycle Assessment, a well-established method for the environmental assessment of products and processes.

Christina Juen

Christina studied British and American Linguistics and Literature, Educational Science, Spanish and German Linguistics and Literature at Saarland University and at the University of Valencia, Spain. Before she started to work as a lecturer for English at the Environmental Campus, she lived in Munich and taught German as a Foreign Language. In the Study Semester she helps students improve their German. Her course is not only designed to teach language skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking German), but also aims at providing participants with an understanding of German customs and culture. Her personal research interests are computer-mediated communication and intercultural communication.

Christian Kammlott

Christian is Professor for Finance at the Environment Campus. He studied Business Administration at Mannheim and Witten-Herdecke Unversities. His professional career included 10 years as a consultant and investment banker and as an independent entrepreneur. Aspects of financing new businesses and technologies are his predominant research interests; it seems more than appropriate that Christian covers Fundamentals of Entrepreneurial Management.

Dirk Loehr

Dirk is Professor of Taxation and Ecological Economics at the Campus and Associate Professor at Ruhr-University in Bochum, Germany. He also works part-time as a tax advisor. He is a member of the real estate assessment board of the district of Birkenfeld and lectures at a private academy for real estate assessors. His professional career included 7 years as financial manager in an international hotel chain and the Deutsche Bahn Group. He has published widely on taxation, land use issues and environmental economics.

Stefan Stoll

Stefan is Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Protection at the Environmental Campus. His research focus is on aquatic ecology and environmental management. Stefan closely cooperates with the nearby National Park Hunsrück-Hochwald, which he uses as a field laboratory in many of his projects. He is a board member of the German Long-Term Ecological Research Society, which is part of the world-wide effort to synthesize and harmonize environmental data for research and decision-making. Stefan also holds an Associate Professorship at the University of Duisburg-Essen.

Henrik te Heesen

Henrik is Professor of Renewable Energies. He studied Physics in Aachen and Bochum. After working as an executive assistant to the CEO he was head of the O&M department of a midsize company in the photovoltaic sector. Henrik joined the Campus in 2013 and is responsible for the degree program “Renewable Energies”. Thus, it is clear, that Henrik will work with you on contemporary issues of the solar energy business.

Martina Witt-Jauch

Martina is Lecturer in English in the Department of Languages at the Environmental Campus. She studied English and American Culture, Modern Social History, and German Studies at Mannheim University, then earned her doctorate degree in Comparative Literature from Purdue University, Indiana, USA. Apart from teaching in these fields in the United States, Lower Saxony, and Trier University of Applied Sciences for 8 years, she is also completing her professorial qualification at Goettingen University. She will explore German Business, History and Culture in her Study Semester course. Her personal research interests include the Anglo-American legal system, intercultural communication, and literary representations of political monstrosities.


Study Conditions, Accommodation and Fees

Participants in the program will live and study on our modern campus with over 2,500 other students of environmental business, law, sustainable science, information and media technology. All student apartments are reasonably priced. They come fully equipped and provide high-speed internet access as well as being connected to our university intranet.

The university does not charge a tuition fee for the Study Semester. Students will have to pay a 500 Euros administration fee per semester that also covers excursion costs and a general admissions fee of approx. 200 Euros per semester that also allows free rail travel in the region.

Students will enjoy the benefits of our “buddy concept”, with German students providing individual help in getting orientated and integrated in campus life.

How to apply as a guest student coming from a partner university

How to apply

The next two Study Semester "Principles of Sustainable Business" will take place from March to July 2020 (summer semester)andfrom September 2020 to January 2021 (winter semester). Applications should be submitted by

  • 1  November for the summer semester
  • 1 May for the winter semester

Please note that the application forms have to be signed personally by applicants and by the responsible university referees. They have to be sent back via e-mail to and via regular mail to the following address:

Umwelt-Campus Birkenfeld
Ms. Julia Mertens / Ms. Katharina Laros
PO Box 1380
55761 Birkenfeld

In addition to the application form, the following documents must be included with each application:

  1. Statement of Motivation
  2. Letter of Reference
  3. Most Recent Grade Transcript
  4. Certificate of English Language Proficiency or an equivalent
    • TOEFL (internet-based: 79 / computer-based: 213 / paper-based: 550)
    • IELTS (band 6)
    • TOEIC (Listening & Reading 750 points + Writing & Speaking 300 points)

All forms have to be filled out on computer (not handwritten). Please send all applications forms together with the other documents as one single PDF document. Handwritten forms or an incomplete application will not be accepted.


How to apply as a "free mover"

How to apply

Our Study Semester program addresses enrolled (Bachelor) students from partner universities all around the world. However, in exceptional cases foreign students may carry out a semester or a whole academic year at our university, even though they are not applying as part of a student exchange but voluntarily. This can be the case if applicants have already completed a Bachelor or Master study or have not yet started studying at all.

When applying as a free mover students will not be treated as guest students, but as regular students. Hence, they have to meet the academic admission requirements for studying at German universities. A higher education entrance qualification has to be proven.

Which application documents do I have to hand in?

In addition to the application form, the following documents must be included with each application:

  1. High school/college and university leaving certificates officially translated into German or English
  2. A detailed resumé with your complete academic and professional career (incl. annual details)
  3. Statement of Motivation
  4. Certificate of English Language Proficiency or an equivalent
    • TOEFL (internet-based: 79 / computer-based: 213 / paper-based: 550)
    • IELTS (band 6)
    • TOEIC (Listening & Reading 750 points + Writing & Speaking 300 points)
  5. Payment document/receipt of the transfer of 50 Euros

Each document has to be sent as a PDF file named accordingly.

The revision of documents by our Students Office in order to check your higher education entrance qualification costs 50 Euros and has to be transferred no later than 1 May for the winter semester and 1 November for the summer semester (date of receipt). Please note that foreign remittances can take up to 1 or 2 weeks.

Please transfer the amount to the following account:

Recipient: Landeshochschulkasse Mainz

Name of bank: Deutsche Bundesbank Filiale Mainz

Account number: 550 01511

Bank Sort Code: 550 000 00

IBAN: DE25 5500 0000 0055001511


Reason for payment: 6671-1566-BIR 11113/02 "Surname, First name, Date of birth"

Please do not forget to mention the reason for payment, otherwise we cannot locate the payment and your application will not be processed.

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Julia Mertens
Julia Mertens
Beschäftigte FB Umweltwirtschaft/-recht - FR Umweltwirtschaft


+49 6782 17-1206


Birkenfeld | Gebäude 9913 | Raum 4

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