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2016/2017  KAN-CCMVV1432U  Sustainability Challenges 2: Specific Systems and Capstone Project (SC2)

English Title
Sustainability Challenges 2: Specific Systems and Capstone Project (SC2)

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
Max. participants 60
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Maria Figueroa - 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 23-06-2016
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.
Sustainability Challenges 2: Specific Systems and Capstone Project:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Oral exam based on written product

In order to participate in the oral exam, the written product must be handed in before the oral exam; by the set deadline. The grade is based on an overall assessment of the written product and the individual oral performance.
Individual or group exam Oral group exam based on written group product
Number of people in the group 2-4
Size of written product Max. 20 pages
Definition of number of pages:
Groups of
2 students 10 pages max.
3 students 15 pages max
4 students 20 pages max

Students who wish to have an individual exam might be able to write a term paper in the course. Please see the cand.merc. rules for term papers for more information.
Assignment type Project
Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
15 min. per student, including examiners' discussion of grade, and informing plus explaining the grade
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
Re-take exam is to be based on the same report as the ordinary exam:

* if a student is absent from the oral exam due to documented illness but has handed in the written group product she/he does not have to submit a new product for the re-take.

* if a whole group fails the oral exam they must hand in a revised product for the re-take.

* if one student in the group fails the oral exam the course coordinator chooses whether the student will have the oral exam on the basis of the same product or if he/she has to hand in a revised product for the re- take.
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' in one of the three broad systems covered in the course (energy; waste & recycling; or natural resources, food and agriculture).

Student groups for the capstone project will be formed at the end of session 10. Group participants will be drawn randomly from the list of class participants, and groups will include participants from all three universities. The selection of the system assigned will also take place randomly at that point. 

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. The report is due in early January 2017. 



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' 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. In the Capstone Porject, small groups of students will examine a specific challenge (within one of the three broad systems covered in the course) and provide 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. 



An introduction, 9 sessions of 3x45 min, and 2 sessions of 3x45 min for in-class group supervision for the capstone project


Draft content

  • Session 1: Introduction
  • Sessions 2-4: 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)
  • Sessions 5-7: 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)
  • Sessions 8-10: 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)
  • Sessions 11-12: in-class supervision on Capstone Project 
Teaching methods
• lectures, group work and simulation exercises
• group work on capstone project
Student workload
lectures and group work in class 30 hours
in-class project supervision 6 hours
class preparation and capstone project work 170 hours
Further Information

This course is mandatory for students wishing to obtain the COSI ‘Joint Certificate in Sustainability: Science, Technology and Business' (CBS/KU/DTU)


The certificate is assigned by a joint COSI committee from the three participating universities. To obtain the certificate, students need to pass the two SC1 and SC2 courses.


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


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

Expected literature

Preliminary literature list:

  • 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 23-06-2016