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2017/2018  KAN-CCBLV1705U  The CBS Campus as a Living Lab of Sustainability: Fostering Partnerships with the Private Sector

English Title
The CBS Campus as a Living Lab of Sustainability: Fostering Partnerships with the Private Sector

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn, Spring
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Min. participants 25
Max. participants 50
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
  • Innovation
Last updated on 31-03-2017

Relevant links

Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • Learn to identify a sustainability problem of practical import to the university
  • Learn to articulate a realistic work plan to address that problem
  • Learn to develop and foster strategic partnerships between CBS and the private-sector
  • Learn to work effectively with other members of a group to fulfill that work plan
  • Learn to work effectively with a “client” from the organization
  • Learn about the role of the university in achieving operational sustainability
  • Develop an understanding of the campus as living lab approach to university sustainability, its potential and limitations
  • Develop substantive knowledge in one area of operational sustainability at the university
  • Provide a finalized report to CBS Campus Development and Campus Services
Course prerequisites
There are no prerequisite for this course. Instead students from various fields of interest at CBS are encouraged to focus their skills and interests to support the development of the course.
The CBS Campus as a Living Lab of Sustainability: Fostering Partnerships with the Private Sector:
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 Individual oral exam based on written group product
Number of people in the group 3-5
Size of written product Max. 30 pages
Assignment type Report
Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
20 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 and Summer
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Description of the exam procedure

Group Problem Statement

Your first task upon meeting with your assigned CBS staff “client”, is to agree on a specific problem formulation. You will then need to explore how possible private sector connections and implications (i.e. what kind of private sector partnerships might contribute to addressing that problem), could support the sustainability aspirations of the CBS campus. Students should similarly work to ascertain the overall feasibility of the proposed business partnership as well as the net-impact of the overall initiative vis-à-vis the CBS campus. You will submit a description of the topic area and the specific question, in the form of a problem statement.


The problem statement should be short (1-2) pages and should:

  • Describe the general topic area (e.g. monitoring GHG emission on campus) and its importance in terms of sustainability

  • Preliminary thoughts on how this might be addressed through private sector collaboration

  • Outline the specific objectives of the work

  • Describe the expected deliverables

Final Deliverable and Final Presentation

Students will prepare a final deliverable to clients, according to their expectations. 


The final presentation to the client will take place toward the end of term 1.  Final presentations will include:

  • A brief description of the final scope of the project and the opportunities for partnering with the private sector

  • A description of the methodology your group employed to rate the proposed private sector partnership

  • Main findings from your research and analysis

  • Main recommendations and a description of trade-offs to your client, with a clear focus as to whether such public-private partnerships could in fact support CBS’ campus development goals

  • Metrics for assessing the effectiveness of your recommendations

  • A description on how to formally cement the initiative (if desired) with CBS


Note that all assignments are group projects, so learning how to work effectively with other members of your group is a critical requirement for successful completion of the assignments. Please consult the course Handbook for more information on effective group work.


360 Peer Reviews

The 360 peer reviews will be used to adjust the individual marks on group projects. The group projects will each be assigned a single grade. If the peer review provides strong evidence of better than average, or worse than average, performance by a member of the group, then the grade of that individual for that group project will be adjusted up or down by 5%.

Course content and structure


Sustainability is a growing priority for universities all over the world. Many are developing strong operational sustainability goals and targets, and are giving increasing emphasis to teaching and research on sustainability issues. Yet few have committed at the executive level to integrating academic and operational sustainability in the context of treating their campus as a living laboratory of sustainable practice, research and teaching. Arguably, it is such living lab approaches that offer the largest potential for universities to play a significant role in the sustainability transition. This course will explore and apply the living lab concept, with a particular focus on how best to deepen the role of the private sector with regard to operational sustainability at Copenhagen Business School. We will begin by looking at the literature on university sustainability and the living lab concept. The bulk of the course will involve undertaking an applied research project defined by the CBS Campus Development office, on ways of developing innovative and dynamic initiatives between specific private sector organizations and some aspect of campus sustainability. The students will work in close partnership with operational staff at Copenhagen Business School. Students will develop an understanding of business/university partnerships and the skills needed to work across disciplines and fields of study, and with non-academic partners.


Project examples include:

  • Mobility plan - Solberg Campus
  • Waste management - avoiding food waste.
  • Define CBS official sustainability definition
  • Optimization of the buildings on the CBS Campus – minimal land use



This course will put students to work on exploring the business models and partnership opportunities for involving the private sector in operational sustainability projects identified by the staff working in or with the Sustainability Office at the Copenhagen Business School. Students will be organized into groups, each of which will be assigned one project, to be overseen by one or more CBS staff members. The bulk of the course will consist of developing proposals for how CBS can best develop partnerships with business to address sustainability issues on campus. Each group will produce a mid-term and final report, give a mid-term and final presentation, and submit one 360 review.


The first two weeks of the course will be devoted to providing background on the concept of university as a living lab of sustainability, and meeting with CBS staff to choose group project topics.


In session 1, there will be a lecture on campus as a living lab (CLL) and the role of the university. Background readings will be assigned, and a list of proposed projects will be introduced and distributed. Students will choose their preferred topics before the next class.


In session 2, students be divided into groups and assigned to specific projects. They will be introduced to their staff “clients” and each group will make arrangements for regular meetings with them. Much of the class will consist of a presentation on, and discussion of, how to work effectively as a group, and with an external “client”.


Subsequent weeks will consist of regular meetings with assigned staff and periodic check-ins with course instructors. Each group will be expected to meet weekly with their “client”, unless another arrangement is made. These meetings will occur outside class at a time and place to be arranged with the client. Each group will also meet as a group during class time. The instructor and the Campus Development Liaison will be available at those times and each group will be expected to meet with one or the other at last once every two weeks during class time, to check-in on progress on their project.


A crucial aspect of this course is the ability of students to work collaboratively together in a group environment, and to work effectively with a university staff person acting as a “client” for their work. Students will be provided with a Handbook outlining information on working in groups and the focus of the class in the second week will be on this issue

Teaching methods
Teaching includes lecture-style classes, in-class workshops with students presenting and actively participating in discussions.

Development of personal competences linked to traditional “lecture style” characteristics of this course:
• Knowledge/competences about theory/models/tools in sustainability;
• Knowledge/competences in reading and analyzing scientific literature;
• Presentation and discussion skills;
• Analytical skills; and
• Knowledge/competences in writing a final project report.

Development of additional personal competences linked to applied and project related characteristics of this course:
• Knowledge/competences in identifying, developing and evaluating ideas for sustainability initiatives within urban landscapes;
• Knowledge/competences in doing consulting for cities;
• Competences in innovative methods on how best to present, to develop and to integrate such sustainability recommendations;
• Competences in sustainability case analysis and development; and
• Competences in group organization and communication (experiences with group dynamics as preparation for and during the course).

Class time will be devoted to meeting as a team to work on your consulting assignment, or to meeting with your client. You are free to meet anywhere on campus, and do not need to report to the classroom beyond the first class meeting. However, it is impossible to manage these consulting assignments solely during class time over the course of 12 student contact periods. It is imperative that teams schedule an additional weekly meeting outside of class time. In addition, keep in mind that meetings arranged with the project client may need to be scheduled outside of class time to match the client’s schedule. The client always comes first.
Feedback during the teaching period
Feedback is given in the following fashion:

- During Office Hours
- Digitally
- During classroom discussions
Student workload
Lectures 30 hours
Preparation 105 hours
Client meetings and preparation 26 hours
Exam 45 hours
Total 206 hours
Further Information

A note on professionalism: whether in draft or final form, work plans, interim reports and presentations that are distributed to the professor and client are expected to be of professional quality.  This includes an expectation of superior intellectual ideas, writing, formatting and presentation of products. Remember that an important aspect of successful interactions includes the way in which you prepare, rehearse your material, look and sound when you communicate with clients and staff in their organizations. Please note that client satisfaction throughout the term will inform their assessment of your work. 



Expected literature

Baedeker, C., von Geibler, J., Jordan, N. D., Rohn, H., & Liedtke, C. (2012, March). The ‘sustainability living lab’as a reflexive user-integrating research infrastructure. In IST2012.


Robinson, J. (2004). Squaring the circle? Some thoughts on the idea of sustainable development. Ecological economics, 48(4), 369-384.


Sneddon, C., Howarth, R. B., & Norgaard, R. B. (2006). Sustainable development in a post-Brundtland world. Ecological economics, 57(2), 253-268.


Swart, R. J., Raskin, P., & Robinson, J. (2004). The problem of the future: sustainability science and scenario analysis. Global environmental change, 14(2), 137-146.


Stubbs, W., & Cocklin, C. (2008). Conceptualizing a “sustainability business model”. Organization & Environment, 21(2), 103-127.


Blewitt, J. (2014). Understanding sustainable development. Routledge.


Vallance, S., Perkins, H. C., & Dixon, J. E. (2011). What is social sustainability? A clarification of concepts. Geoforum, 42(3), 342-348.


McElhaney, K. (2007). Strategic CSR. Sustainable Enterprise Quarterly, 4(1), 1-7.


Holten-Andersen, P., Molin, J., Møllgaard, P., & Pedersen, P. J. (2015). Business in Society version 2.015.


Largo-Wight, E., Bian, H., & Lange, L. (2012). An empirical test of an expanded version of the Theory of Planned Behavior in predicting recycling behavior on campus. American Journal of Health Education, 43(2), 66-73.


Albrecht, P., Burandt, S., & Schaltegger, S. (2007). Do sustainability projects stimulate organizational learning in universities?. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 8(4), 403-415.


Mcmillin, J., & Dyball, R. (2009). Developing a whole-of-university approach to educating for sustainability linking curriculum, research and sustainable campus operations. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 3(1), 55-64.

Last updated on 31-03-2017