There’s a new way for students to get locked into their studies at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) with the opening of an ‘escape room’– a serious game focused on thinking about sustainable development. It was conceived and constructed to complement students’ understanding of RSM’s mission to be a force for positive change in the world, which is underpinned by the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The RSM Escape Room demonstrates the magnitude and complexity of the SDGs with an hour-long challenge in a locked room for teams of up to four people.

The RSM Escape Room presents a series of intellectual challenges about sustainable development, specifically focused on SDG 12, sustainable consumption and production. Participants must discover and solve clues and puzzles in order to find their way out of the rooms.

Eva Rood is director of RSM’s positive change initiative. She said: “It’s a creative and innovative way to extend learning outside of the classroom. Students will see the enormity of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and they might initially feel confused, but it’s supposed to be a real challenge. It helps them to see the interconnectedness of the 17 goals, and to realise how there is no simple solution for complex problems. It focuses on SDG 12, responsible consumption and production, so the challenges are about fast fashion and plastic waste. The focus on SDG 12 and the specific topics were chosen by our students.”

A one-hour ‘serious’ game

The Escape Room was produced in collaboration with escape room specialists AmazeEscape. They said: “It was a major challenge for us to process such an up-to-date and important theme in a one-hour game. Often the game ends after achieving a specific goal: the last key is the answer to the mystery. But how do we do that in the case of this assignment, when the problem is so complicated that the solution does not yet exist!”

AmazeEscape brainstormed with students and created three installations: a wall of plastic, a heap of textiles and a tunnel of cardboard to echo the themes ‘disposable plastics’, ‘fast fashion’ and ‘production waste’.

“RSM wanted to focus attention not only on SDG12, but also on the other 16 because all the goals are connected and exert influence on each other. There is no simple solution.”

Escape in a team of four

Teams of up to four people can try the RSM Escape Room, which is a timed challenge. Every minute that passes is a year closer to 2030; the game becomes a discussion in which the participants decide how they can best use the available options to achieve as many goals as possible in 2030. The RSM Escape Room can be booked by students and by the wider RSM community. 

Sustainable development for every business

RSM has also developed a  free, seven-week online course for people who want to start to create a culture of sustainable business. Driving Business Towards The SDGs focuses on the role of businesses in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and is presented by academics in business and management as well as leaders of international companies who share how their organisations incorporate the SDGs into their strategy. The course recently won a ‘MOOC Award of Excellence’ from the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).

A series of short videos about the SDGs is also free to view. The video series can be seen here.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Erika Harriford-McLaren, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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