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2015/2016  KAN-CCMVV1432U  Sustainability Challenges 2: Specific Systems and Capstone Project

English Title
Sustainability Challenges 2: Specific Systems and Capstone Project

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Quarter
Start time of the course Second Quarter
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Min. participants 45
Max. participants 60
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Stefano Ponte - Department of Business and Politics (DBP)
Kontaktinformation: https:/​/​e-campus.dk/​studium/​kontakt eller Contact information: https:/​/​e-campus.dk/​studium/​kontakt
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Innovation
  • Strategy
Last updated on 29-06-2015
Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • discuss the key characteristics of energy systems, waste and recycling systems, and natural resources, food and agriculture systems; identify their scientific, technological, business and regulatory components; and examine their development and interconnectedness
  • develop a system-level perspective that takes an integrative approach towards the solution of complex problems within the three broad sustainability challenge areas covered in the course;
  • apply science, technology and business management approaches and tools covered in the course in a ‘capstone project’ to examine a specific and real-world ‘sustainability challenge’ within one of the three broad areas covered in the course;
  • in the capstone project: present relevant facts and context of the selected ‘sustainability challenge’; identify the key problems, stakeholders and interactions; justify the choice of approaches and relevant data;
  • in the capstone project: use the chosen approaches to analyze the sustainability challenge; provide tentative solutions that combine scientific, technological, business and regulatory elements; critically reflect upon the approaches used; and provide suggestions for improving these approaches to better fit the problem at hand.
Course prerequisites
Please note that only students from KU can apply as credit students.
Sustainability Challenges 2: Specific Systems and Capstone Project:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Group exam, max. 5 students in the group
Size of written product Max. 20 pages
Assignment type Project
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and second internal examiner
Exam period Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Description of the exam procedure

In the capstone project, students from the three participating universities will work in small groups to examine a specific 'Sustainability challenge' within the three broad systems covered in the course (energy; waste & recycling; and natural resources, food and agriculture). Student groups will be assigned which one of the three systems they will work on at session 11. However, they will be working together throughout the course on other hands-on assignments. 

In the report, they will be asked to present relevant facts and context of the selected ‘sustainability challenge’; identify the key problems, stakeholders and interactions; justify the choice of approaches and relevant data; use the chosen approaches to analyze the sustainability challenge; provide tentative solutions that combine scientific, technological, business and regulatory elements; critically reflect upon the approaches used; and provide suggestions for improving these approaches to better fit the problem at hand.

Course content and structure



Business, government and civil society are facing complex sustainability challenges that they cannot solve alone. These challenges have financial, managerial, political, social and environmental components, and tackling them often requires partnerships between the private and public sectors, or multi-stakeholder initiatives that also involve non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, venture capital and universities.


There is an increasing need, and demand for, managers and employees who have specialist skills, but who can also operate in multi-disciplinary teams. They need to have developed a common language and understanding with specialists in other fields so they can bridge the gaps between science, technology and business solutions to sustainability. Many scientific discoveries, technological developments or business innovations on sustainability fail because of the lack of understanding from each of these fields of the complex challenges that are involved. Business plans fail because of lack of understanding of their technological complexities; scientific breakthroughs are abandoned because they are miscommunicated to the public or the political system; technological innovations end up financially unfeasible. 


'Sustainability Challenges 2: Specific Systems and Capstone Project' builds upon 'Sustainability Challenges 1: Systems Thinking' to examine specific challenges within three broad systems: Energy; Waste & recycling; and Natural resources, food and agriculture. Lectures will be combined with group work and a Capstone Project, with small groups of students examining a specific challenge (within one of the three broad systems covered in the course) and providing tentative solutions. 


Sustainability Challenges 2 is taught by faculty members and includes students from CBS, KU and DTU (see details below). The aim is to provide a new generation of specialist professionals with the relevant skills to properly operate and communicate in multi-disciplinary teams that seek to tackle and find innovative solutions to the complex sustainability challenges society and business face. 



A joint introduction, 9 blocks of 3x45 min, and 2 sessions of 3 hours each for in-class group supervision for the capstone project by a selected number of teachers


Draft content

  • Joint introduction
  • Blocks 1-3: Energy systems
    • Energy demand & decarbonization; the size of the challenge; global and Danish perspectives (@KU)
    • Technological solutions and system thinking for alternative energy and energy optimisation (@DTU)
    • Business and the governance of carbon emissions: global, transnational, national and local solutions (@CBS)
  • Blocks 4-6: Waste and recycling systems
    • Waste and biorefining (@KU)
    • Recycling and reuse: a circular economy approach (@DTU)
    • Waste as a valuable resource: business models, innovation & entrepreneurship (@CBS)
  • Blocks 7-9: Natural resources, food and agriculture systems
    • Sustainable food systems (@KU)
    • Sustainability assessment of natural resource use (@DTU)
    • Market approaches to the sustainability of natural resources: standards, labels and certifications (@CBS)
  • 2 sessions of dedicated in-class supervision on Capstone Project 
Teaching methods
• lectures
• group work on capstone project (groups include students from all 3 universities)
Further Information

This course is offered as an elective, but is one of two mandatory courses (Sustainability Challenges 1 and 2) for students wishing to obtain the CBS-KU-DTU ‘Joint Certificate in Sustainability: Science, Technology and Business’.


The joint certificate is assigned by a joint committee from the three participating universities and can be obtained in addition to a regular MSc degree. To obtain the certificate, students need to take and pass the two SC1 and SC2 courses.


For more info on this initiative, please see: http://cosiuni.weebly.com


CBS students:

CBS students not seeking to obtain the joint certificate can also take SC1 or SC2 as a self-standing electives.

Expected literature
  • Andersen, AH (2012) Organic food and the plural moralities of food provisioning. Journal of Rural Studies 27: 440-450
  • Auld, G. (2014) Confronting Trade-Offs and Interactive Effects in the Choice of Policy Focus: Specialized versus Comprehensive Private Governance. Regulation and Governance 8.1: 126-48.
  • Bjørn, A., Hauschild, M.Z. (2013) Absolute versus Relative Environmental Sustainability. Journal of Industrial Ecology 17, 321-332
  • Bocken, N.M.P.; Short, S.W.; Rana, P.; Evans, S. (2014) A literature and practice review to develop sustainable business model archetypes, Journal of Cleaner Production, 65: 42-56.
  • Boons, F. and Lüdeke-Freund, F. (2013) Business models for sustainable innovation: state-of-the-art and steps towards a research agenda, Journal of Cleaner Production, 45:9–19.
  • Bulkeley , H.,  Newell, P. (2015) Governing Climate Change. Routledge. Chapters 1 and 3.
  • Bulkeley, H. et al. (2013) Climate justice and global cities: mapping the emerging discourses. Global Environmental Change 23.5: 914-925.
  • Chum, H. et al. 2014. Energy Systems. Chapter 7. In Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. IPCC. Cambridge University Press.   https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg3/ipcc_wg3_ar5_full.pdf
  • Creutzig, F., E. Corbera, S. Bolwig and C. Hunsberger C. (2013) Integrating Place-Specific Livelihood and Equity Outcomes into Global Assessments of Bioenergy Deployment. Environmental Research Letters 8.3: 035047
  • Darnhofer et al (2010) Conventionalisation of Organic Farming Practices: From Structural Criteria Towards an Assessment Based on Organic Principles. Sustainable Agriculture 2.3: 331-349
  • Dovers, S.R., and J.W. Handmer (1992) Uncertainty, sustainability and change. Global Environmental Change 2.4: 262-276.
  • Dryzek, J.S., and H. Stevenson (2011) Global democracy and earth system governance. Ecological economics 70.11: 1865-1874.
  • Ellen McArthur Foundation (2012) Towards the Circular Economy. UK
  • European Commission (2015) Web site: Moving towards a circular economy http://ec.europa.eu/environment/circular-economy/index_en.htm
  • Fleurbaey, M, Kartha, S, Bolwig, et al. (2014) Sustainable Development and Equity. Chapter 4, Sect. 4.2.2 and Sect. 4.6. In Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. IPCC. Cambridge University Press. 
  • Gregg, J. (2015) Future Diet Scenarios and Their Effect on Regional and Global Biofuel Potential. Article under review.
  • Hatanaka, M., Bain, C., Busch, L. (2005) Third-party certification in the global agrifood system. Food Policy 30: 354–369.
  • Holloway L et al. (2007) Possible Food Economics: a Methodological Framework for Exploring Food Production–Consumption Relationships. Sociologia Ruralis 47.1: 1-19.
  • Hvass, K.K. (2014), Post-retail responsibility of garments – a fashion industry perspective, Journal of Fashion Marketing & Management 18.4: 413-430.
  •  IPCC AR5 Summary Report for Policy Makers http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/AR5_SYR_FINAL_SPM.pdf;
  • McDonough, William, and Michael Braungart (2010) Cradle to cradle: Remaking the way we make things. MacMillan.
  • OECD/IEA. Nordic Energy Technology Perspectives. 2013.  http://www.nordicenergy.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Nordic-Energy-Technology-Perspectives.pdf
  • Parajuli et al. (2015) Biorefining in the prevailing energy and materials crisis: a review of sustainable pathways for biorefinery value chains and sustainability assessment methodologies, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 43: 244-263
  • Richardson et al. 2011 Denmark’s Roadmap for Fossil fuel Independence http://www.thesolutionsjournal.com/node/954
  • Smith, P. et al. (2014) Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU). Chapter 11 in Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. IPPC and Cambridge University Press, pp. 811-922. https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg3/ipcc_wg3_ar5_full.pdf
  • STREAM materials (more info forthcoming)
  • What a Waste, https://www.wdronline.worldbank.org/handle/10986/17388 pages 1-33
  • Zaman, G., and Z. Goschin (2010) Multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity: Theoretical approaches and implications for the strategy of post-crisis sustainable development. Theoretical and Applied Economics 12.12: 5-20.


Last updated on 29-06-2015