One of the main outcomes of the Rio + 20 Conference was the agreement to set Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The most common terms in the17 goals are economic growth, resilience and inclusion, all of which are critically examined in this article. This article discusses how these goals are reflected within existing sustainability programs at a vocational college, and at the undergraduate and postgraduate university levels in The Netherlands. Within all three institutions the author has integrated lectures on sustainable development with specific emphasis on the SDGs. The aim was to engage students in critical discussion, allowing reflection on the issues and paradoxes that characterise the larger discourse of sustainability. The case studies illustrate how curriculum aimed at this awareness can be developed stimulating the students’ recognition of critique of economic development, inclusion and resilience. As a result of the courses, the students were able to develop a certain degree of critical, imaginative, and innovative thinking about sustainable development in general and the SDGs in particular. Cradle to cradle and circular economy approaches were named as more promising for current production systems. This article concludes with the recommendation as to how the SDGs can be critically taught.