Sustainicum Collection

Consus The aim of the project is to establish a regional science-society network for sustainability innovations in Albania and Kosovo in order to strengthen the connection and collaboration of institutions in the field of higher education, research and practice.

Resource facts

  • 5 to 10 students
  • Up to 3 lecture units
  • Internet connection necessary
  • English, German

Resource Description

Additional attachments

Six Thinking Hats(Resource ID: 8)

This method is best used to solve complex problems as it aims at looking at problems from different perspectives. Participants learn how to embrace problems in an unconventional way which will lead to innovative solutions. The students will consciously adopt different styles of thinking in a sequence. There are six different “thinking hats”: a white one (neutral, gathering information), a red one (intuitive, emotional), a green one (creative, fresh ideas), a black one (conservative, critical), a yellow one (optimistic, logical) and a blue one (meta thinking). During the discussion, the different ways of thinking can either be rotated or they can also be assigned to one person for the entire process (this will be described further).

The method starts from a concrete situation which will be discussed and ideally solved during a meeting. In the course of the meeting, the students will act according to the thinking style that has been assigned to them and by the end of it, there should be some concrete outcomes. 

Preparation: Each group will get a problem to solve, for example business students should decide whether the university cafeteria should have fair trade coffee as the only choice in their offer. The group decides who should be the facilitator of the meeting of the Austrian Students Restaurant Association.

Discussion: By means of example, a meeting would typically have the following components:

  • White Hat: gathers information about different prices, the current sales figures of traditional and fair trade coffee and so on.
  • Green Hat: looks out for different approaches – for example one could opt for a mixed version of both fair trade and traditional coffee, frequent customer programmes or to launch the initiative at a different point in time.
  • Yellow Hat: looks at it with a positive attitude and thinks of how to mainstream the fair trade product line.
  • Black Hat: points out possible dangers of introducing fair trade coffee which might entail losses in sales or that people doubt the company’s commitment since fair trade is only being introduced for coffee.
  • Red Hat: emotional take on things: “has a good feeling on introducing it in spring”.
  • Blue Hat: looks out for follow-up activities and seeks to embed the fair trade policy into a broader, more strategic approach.

If there is more than one group, a feedback session will be useful in order to compare the outcomes of the meeting.

Didactical description of the method

Before starting the group discussion, the facilitator should elaborate on the different thinking styles and elicit reactions by the hats to given situations. A comprehensive description of the thinking styles has been attached to the document. 

The different thinking styles should be assigned by drawing lots in order to prevent that somebody would opt for his/her hat of choice. Students get 15 min to prepare the role and read through the situation which has to be provided also. There can be several parallel groups.

The facilitator communicates the time frame for the discussion (e.g. 45 min), during the meeting the groups are responsible for their time management.

A final feedback session will give the opportunity to exchange the solutions and to also talk over how the students have dealt emotionally with their role.

Necessary Documents/Materials

A comprehensive description of the different thinking styles has been attached. The facilitator should provide a short summary of the situation which should be discussed in the meeting.

Type of teaching method
  • Discussion / debate
Related Teaching Resources
No specific previous knowledge / related resources required
Topics of sustainability
The discussion topic should concern the students either personally (fair trade coffee in the students cafeteria) or be of general interest (a new main station / airport).
Another approach would be to ask students “how could you live in a more sustainable way?”. Starting from there discussions on car sharing for university employees or free markets for private services (private tutoring for piano lessons) could come up.
Strengths of the method
- Students learn to consciously switch mind sets.
- By going through the discussion process, students will develop strategies how to successfully deal with different mind sets.
Sources and Links

This method has been invented by Edward de Bono, further information can be found on: http://www.debonogroup.com/six_thinking_hats.php

Funded by
Funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research within the framework of the call "Projekt MINT-Massenfächer" (2011/12)

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MMag. Nadine Shovakar


Shovakar Nadine
This teaching resource is allocated to following University:
KFUG - Karl-Franzens-University Graz


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Type of teaching method

  • Discussion / debate