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2017/2018  KAN-CCBLC1003U  Edinburgh-Copenhagen Urban Challenge

English Title
Edinburgh-Copenhagen Urban Challenge

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration Summer
Start time of the course Fourth Quarter
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 15
Study board
Study Board for BSc og MSc in Business, Language and Culture, MSc
Course coordinator
  • Kristjan Jespersen - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance
Last updated on 20-02-2017

Relevant links

Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • An understanding of the main techniques, methods, and tools for climate change mitigation planning and financial appraisal.
  • The ability to critically analyse the utility and limitations of different methods and approaches.
  • The ability to analyse a sustainability challenge/problem, and to develop appropriate and workable solutions.
  • The ability to interpret and respond to client/partner requirements, constraints and concerns, including an appreciation of reputationally sensitive issues.
  • Demonstrable skills in data collection and in the use of carbon accounting/financial appraisal techniques.
  • Skills in problem-solving, group-work, prioritising and sharing tasks, working to deadlines, and presenting outputs to external audiences.
Course prerequisites

• Edinburgh: May/June 2018
• Copenhagen: June 2018

Submission of final report: June 2018

Please visit website for further information; www.urbanchallengealliance.com
Prerequisites for registering for the exam
Number of mandatory activities: 2
Compulsory assignments (assessed approved/not approved)
Midterm project presentations in groups after the first week.

Final project presentation after the exchange to teachers and case company.
Edinburgh-Copenhagen Urban Challenge:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
Assignment type Project
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Summer
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Description of the exam procedure

Group project exam/home assignment (15 pages submitted individually).


Task of the group/home assignment will be to prepare a final report driven analysis followed by a design of a business proposal upon the Edinburgh-Copenhagen Challenge theme of climate change mitigation, involving carbon accounting, finance and management. The assignment will be developed in trans-disciplinary student groups.


The groups are to develop their analysis in relation to a concrete climate change mitigation, involving carbon accounting presented by a private partner. As such, the application and use of ‘Carbon Finance’ must be an integral part of the projects.


The groups are to analyze the efficacy and synergies generated from their insights and proposals, and they should in the process and delivery involve other civil and private collaborators. Finally, the groups are to consider the scaling opportunities of the proposals in the cross-cultural settings of Edinburgh and Copenhagen.


Students will be expected to use the literature and theories introduced in the course as well as to identify additional literature where appropriate.


Course content and structure

The Edinburgh-Copenhagen Urban Challenge is offered jointly by the University of Edinburgh Business School and Copenhagen Business School to postgraduate students from both universities. The course focuses on theoretical transdisciplinary teaching with practice-oriented project work led by academic staff from the University of Edinburgh Business School, Copenhagen Business School and The Ecological Sequestration Trust. The project is also supported by policy makers and business leaders from Edinburgh and Copenhagen. 


The programme involves bringing together a cohort of students from both business schools to work together for two weeks in total, with one week in each city.



The vision behind the Edinburgh-Copenhagen Urban Challenge is to create a trans-disciplinary, cross-institutional, and cross-cultural higher education programme to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, investigate past, current and future experiences and accelerate innovation for urban sustainability. The specific focus of the programme is climate change mitigation, involving carbon accounting, finance and management. The programme brings together students, teachers, municipalities, and businesses to work together on real-world challenges in the two cities.


Goals of the Edinburgh-Copenhagen Urban Challenge

The Edinburgh-Copenhagen Urban Challenge programme intends to achieve the following:

  • Build a lasting collaboration between faculty and students at the University of Edinburgh Business School and Copenhagen Business School.
  • Develop trans-disciplinary, cross-institutional, and cross-country approaches to research, teaching and learning related to urban sustainability.
  • Stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship skills of higher education researchers, teachers, graduate students, municipalities and practitioners within urban sustainability.
  • Progress integrated systems thinking with regard to solving city scale sustainability challenges.
  • Establish a dialogue and close collaboration with key business stakeholders and thereby strengthen the relationship between universities, cities and businesses.


The Edinburgh-Copenhagen Urban Challenge is centred on carbon policies and CO2 emission reduction, and focuses on real-world challenges related to carbon accounting, finance, strategy, and knowledge transfer, in Edinburgh and Copenhagen. Students will be introduced to a number of methods, standards, and tools for addressing the challenge they are presented with, including different forms of carbon accounting, stakeholder mapping, and a city-scale resource flow platform developed by the Ecological Sequestration Trust called resililience.io, that supports and facilitates financial investment decisions within sustainable urbanisation.


The structure of the programme is intended to facilitate the sharing of lessons between the partner cities, universities, and the participating student cohorts. The case study partner in Edinburgh is the City of Edinburgh Council.


The Copenhagen case partner is the Greater Copenhagen Region. The Danish capital is moving rapidly toward a zero-carbon future, as it erects wind farms, transforms its citywide heating systems, promotes energy efficiency, and lures more people out of their cars and onto public transportation and bikes.


Kathi Kaesehage is an Early Career Fellow at the University of Edinburgh Business School and the Centre for Business and Climate Change. Kathi gained a PhD from the University of Exeter where she also completed a Post Doc. Kathi has a strong interest in climate change and business, sustainable development and social change. She is interested in why and how business leaders approach the knowledge gap between climate change science and business practice. She emphasizes interdisciplinary research approaches engaging local business communities and government drawing on a variety of ethnographic research methods to ensure knowledge exchange between the University and local stakeholders. Kathi has also been active in the private sector including working on energy and development for the Endeva Institute on behalf of the German Society for Technical Cooperation (GTZ). 


Sarah Ivory is an Early Career Fellow in Climate Change and Business Strategy at the University of Edinburgh Business School. She is a member of the Centre for Business and Climate Change which develops dedicated teaching and research relating to aspects of business and management impacted by, or which have an impact on, climate change issues. Sarah earned a B.Com (honours) from the University of Melbourne, an MBA from Melbourne Business School, an MSc (by research) and a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. Her research interests include the study of how organisations understand, implement and legitimise sustainability and/or climate change policies and strategies, with a particular focus on the tensions, contradictions, and challenges this can expose. Prior to academia Sarah worked in the private sector, co-founding a biotech company based in Singapore. She is a past-Chair and ongoing committee member of the British Academy of Management Sustainable and Responsible Business Special Interest Group (SIG).


Matthew Brander is a Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh Business School, and is Programme Director for the MSc in Carbon Finance. His research is in greenhouse gas/carbon accounting, focusing on the different methods for assigning responsibility for managing emissions, and for estimating the changes in emissions caused by climate change mitigation policies and actions. His background is in carbon consultancy and policy analysis.


Kristjan Jespersen is a Doctoral Fellow at the Copenhagen Business School (CBS). As a primary area of focus, he studies the growing development and management of Ecosystem Services in developing countries. Within the field, Kristjan focuses his attention on the institutional legitimacy of such initiatives and the overall compensation tools used to ensure compliance. He has a background in International Relations and Economics. Kristjan has formed close relationships with the Malaysian and Indonesian Palm Oil Associations, and consults on issues of sustainability. Kristjan was most recently appointed by the Copenhagen Business School, along with Professor John Robinson, to coordinate the sustainability components and management of the proposed 35,000 square meter campus construction project.


Professor Peter Head, CBE is a visiting professor in Sustainable Systems Engineering at Bristol University and is a civil and structural engineer who has become a recognised world leader in bridge design, advanced composite technology and now in sustainable development in cities and regions. He has won many awards for his work and in 2008 he was named by the Guardian Newspaper as one of 50 people that could ‘save the planet’. He founded and is currently CEO of The Ecological Sequestration Trust building the world’s first integrated systems platform resilience.io to measure resource flows in and out of a city-region.


John Robinson was the Associate Provost, Sustainability at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and is a professor with UBC’s Institute for Resources, Environment & Sustainability and with the Department of Geography. Most recently, John has been appointed as Professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs and the School of the Environment at the University of Toronto. In 2015, John was also made an Adjunct Professor at the Copenhagen Business School. Presently, John is one of the key project leaders for the new CBS Campus Redevelopment project. He works closely with Denmark’s municipal governments, utilities and businesses. John’s research focuses on the intersection of sustainability, social and technological change, behavioral change, and community engagement processes. As a Lead Author, he contributed to the 1995, 2001 and 2007 Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 with Al Gore.


Jørgen Abildgaard is Project Director for the 2025 Carbon Neutral strategy and plan for the City of Copenhagen. Jørgen is an experienced project manager and strategic adviser who has worked on several projects in Denmark and other Nordic countries and internationally for companies, organizations and governmental administration. Jørgen has worked with a wide range of tasks within the energy and environment area such as energy planning and strategies, green growth, climate change, sustainability, the Kyoto mechanisms, the Nordic power market, renewable energy, energy efficiency, research and development, building regulations and investments in the energy sector.

Teaching methods
The Edinburgh-Copenhagen Urban Challenge programme is a total of two weeks, with one week in each partner city. Up to 15 students from each university (30 in total) will work together throughout the programme in mixed study groups across cultural and disciplinary backgrounds. The stays in Edinburgh and Copenhagen are structured through lectures, seminars, site visits, individual study time, group work, and project presentations.

Participants are expected to take part in all planned activities, and help make the summer school a great experience for everyone, both academically and culturally.
Feedback during the teaching period
Feedback will provided in the following fashion:

1.) during office hours
2.) digitally
3.) during classroom discussions
Student workload
Lectures 60 hours
Preparation 50 hours
Site visits, group work, field work, project presentations 55 hours
Written report 40 hours
Further Information

Each student will receive a student stipend at € 275, but will have to cover any additional costs. To receive the funding the student must take part in all activities and lectures taking place in Edinburgh and Copenhagen. 

Expected literature

Suggested Reading

Brander M., Carstairs S. and Topp C. F. E. (2013) ‘Global protocol for community scale greenhouse gas emissions: a trial application in the West Highlands of Scotland’, Greenhouse Gas Measurement and Management, 3(3-4), pp. 149–165. doi: 10.1080/​20430779.2013.877313.

Crang MA & Cook I 2009. Doing ethnographies. Sage, London.
Denzin NK 2001. The reflexive interview and a performative social science. Qualitative Research 1: 1 , 23-46. http:/​/​dx.doi.org/​10.1177/​146879410100100102.

Ecological Sequestration Trust (2015): Smart ways to mobilise more efficient and effective long-term investment in city regions. Available at: http:/​/​ecosequestrust.org/​latest/​smart-ways-to-mobilise-more-efficient-and-effective-long-term-investment-in-city-regions-report/​

Ecological Sequestration Trust (2014). Platform Report. Available at: http:/​/​ecosequestrust.org/​?s=platform+report&submit=SearchLapan SD, Quartaroli MLT & Riemer FJ 2012. Qualitative research: an introduction to methods and designs.

 ‘Greenhouse Gas Protocol - Policy and Action Standard - Executive Summary’ (2014). Available at: http:/​/​www.ghgprotocol.org/​files/​ghgp/​Policy%20and%20Action%20Standard%20-%20Executive%20Summary.pdf

Kaesehage, K. (2016). The Smart Accelerator. How to Create Smart Project Partnerships. A Qualitative Process Evaluation. ClimateXChange, Edinburgh.

Pacala S. (2004) ‘Stabilization Wedges: Solving the Climate Problem for the Next 50 Years with Current Technologies’, Science, 305(5686), pp. 968–972. doi: 10.1126/science.1100103.


Last updated on 20-02-2017