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2017/2018  KAN-CCMVI2069U  Sustainable Low-Carbon Transitions: Governance, Business and Social Innovations

English Title
Sustainable Low-Carbon Transitions: Governance, Business and Social Innovations

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration Summer
Start time of the course Summer
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
  • Course instructor - Maria Josefina Figueroa Assistant Professor Department of Business and Politics / CBS mf.dbp@cbs.dk
    Sven Bislev - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
In case of any academic questions related to the course, please contact the course instructor or the academic director, Sven Bislev at sb.msc@cbs.dk
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Globalization and international business
  • Innovation
Last updated on 16-01-2018

Relevant links

Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • Identify and critically discuss the concept, goals and scope for action toward a sustainable low carbon transitions
  • Identify critical sectors and give examples of areas of implementation of actions toward sustainable low carbon transition
  • Describe and apply a systemic thinking approach related to sustainable low carbon transition, identifying leverage points in sectors and cases of relevance
  • Discuss and critically analyze the scope of the goals included within the social , environmental and economic areas within the SDGs sustainable development goals
  • Identify and discuss new business models opportunities arising with the integration of key areas related to either social, environmental or economic dimensions of SDGs
  • Identify and discuss ideas for transformative non-for profit social innovations contributing to low carbon solutions
  • Identify and discuss advantages and disadvantages of partnerships for sustainable development and climate resilience
Course prerequisites
Completed Bachelor degree
Sustainable Low-Carbon Transitions: Governance, Business and Social Innovations:
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, Ordinary exam: 26/27 June - 30 July 2018. Please note that exam will start on the first teaching day and will run in parallel with the course.

Retake exam: September - October 2018

3rd attempt (2nd retake) exam: November - December 2018

Exam schedule is available on https:/​/​www.cbs.dk/​uddannelse/​international-summer-university-programme-isup/​courses-and-exams.
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Home project assignment, new exam question
Course content and structure

A Sustainable Low-Carbon Transition is required to achieve implementation of the Agenda 2030 vision and its 17 sustainable development goals SDGs. A sustainable low-carbon transition requires innovative solutions and interactions between business, government and civil societal actors. A clear momentum to advance in this transition was reached in 2015 with the agreements to work towards SDGs goals and to take action to avoid dangerous climate change with the Paris Agreement. 

The need to take joint action and the commitment is now present but the complexity of the task at hand is still very challenging. Business, government and civil society are opening up new veins of collaboration and partnerships for action but they require improving capacities, generating new knowledge and innovative ideas, understanding the impacts of potential contributions and more importantly designing solutions that simultaneously can address SDGs and climate goals. 

There is a pressing need and demand for business managers, specialist, social entrepreneurs and social activists to develop a clear understanding for how to work together, for understanding of the systemic nature of the problems and solutions and the array of new opportunities for business, governance and social actors to initiate partnerships that can foster and sustain this transition.    

"Sustainable Low-Carbon Transitions: Governance, Business and Social Innovation" offers several key approaches, frameworks and concepts to attend to this pressing needs. The course provides the students with a systemic understanding of the nature of the task at hand, it bridges topics of innovation in governance, businesses and civil society to facilitate and bridge the dialog between disciplines and across public and private actors. Along with case study insights the course provides skills to envision opportunities for integrating low-carbon sustainability options in different fields of activities. The course emphasizes these through lectures and practical group work, discussions, role playing and hand-on exercises aligning solutions and seeking to understand their potential contributions to meet these goals.


Preliminary assignment: Read the article by Sachs (2015) and the IPCC AR5 summary report (link provided). Identify an innovative solution that is being advanced (f ex. a new business, a governmental policy or civil society innovation) in the place where you are coming from. Prepare 2 slides to introduce what is that idea about, who is advancing it, since when and which goals do you see this innovation is addressing from the 17 SDGs sustainable development goals. Come prepared to present your reflections in the first class.

Class 1:Introduction: Why? A Sustainable Low-Carbon Transition  
Class 2:What? Goals define a SLowCT? Agenda 2030 SDG's and Paris Climate Agreement 
Class 3:Where? Focus on Leverage Points in System SLowCT Sectors
Class 4:Where? Effective Change Cities at the core of SLowCT action
Class 5: Who? Business Role beyond "b-as usual" purpose-strategy 
Class 6: How? Sustainable Business Models,Circular Economy,Sharing

Feedback activity: Define a Solution Integrating SDGs & Low Carbon Design thinking (business model or non-for-profit model) 

Class 7: How? Developing Sustainable Supply Chains
Class 8: How? Business Transformation and Leadership in SDGs
Class 9: Who/How? Civil Society in Transformative Social Innovation
Class 10:Who/How? Partnerships for Sustainable Development
Class 11: Conclusions: Future of Sustainable Low Carbon Transitions

Teaching methods
• Lectures, group discussion, presentations, hands-on-exercises
• Group work emphasizing inter-disciplinary work
Feedback during the teaching period
Define a Solution Integrating SDGs & Low Carbon Design thinking (business model or non-for-profit model): with this activity the students will receive feedback about the solution they will explore in their final project report.

All Home Project Assignments/mini projects are based upon a research question (problem formulation) formulated by the students individually, and must be handed in to the course instructor for his/her approval no later than 12 July 2018. The instructor must approve the research question (problem formulation) no later than 17 July 2018. The approval is a feedback to the student about the instructor's assessment of the problem's relevance and the possibilities of producing a good report.
Student workload
Preliminary assignment 20 hours
Classroom attendance 33 hours
Preparation 126 hours
Feedback activity 7 hours
Examination 20 hours
Further Information

Preliminary Assignment: To help students get maximum value from ISUP courses, instructors provide a reading or a small number of readings or video clips to be read or viewed before the start of classes with a related task scheduled for class 1 in order to 'jump-start' the learning process.


Course timetable is available on https://www.cbs.dk/uddannelse/international-summer-university-programme-isup/courses-and-exams.


We reserve the right to cancel the course if we do not get enough applications. This will be communicated on https://www.cbs.dk/uddannelse/international-summer-university-programme-isup/courses-and-exams end February 2018 at the latest.


Expected literature

Mandatory readings:


Sachs (2015) The Age of Sustainable Development: Ch 1: pp. 1-14, for a good introduction to the concept of Sustainable Development – and, Ch 14: pp. 481-496, for an overview of the development work leading to the SDGs.

United Nations (2015) Sustainable Development Goals – after reading Sach's overview, you can browse through the further details behind each of the goals: http:/​/​www.un.org/​ga/​search/​view_doc.asp?symbol=A/​RES/​70/​1&Lang=E

IPCC AR5 Summary Report for policy Makers https:/​/​www.ipcc.ch/​pdf/​assessment-report/​ar5/​syr/​AR5_SYR_FINAL_SPM.pdf;

Savaresi Annalisa (2016) The Paris Agreement: a new beginning?, Journal of Energy & Natural Resources Law, 34:1, 16-26, DOI: 10.1080/​02646811.2016.1133983 http:/​/​www.tandfonline.com/​doi/​pdf/​10.1080/​02646811.2016.1133983?needAccess=true

Geels, F., Sovacool, B., Schwanen, T., Sorrell, S. (2017).  ‘Sociotechnical transitions for deep decarbonization: Accelerating innovation is as important as climate policy’. Journal Science. Policy Forum 22 september 2017 • vol 357 issue 6357.  

Newell, P., Bulkeley, H., Turner, K., Shaw, C., Caney, S., Shove, E., Pidgeon, N. (2015) Governance traps in climate change politics: re-framing the debate in terms of responsibilities and rights WIREs Clim Change 2015, 6:535–540. doi: 10.1002/wcc.356  http:/​/​onlinelibrary.wiley.com/​doi/​10.1002/​wcc.356/​pdf

Whelan & Fink (2016) The Comprehensive Business Case for Sustainability, Harvard Business Review. 

Townsend and Zarnett (2013), A Journey in Search of Capitalism 2.0, Sections 2, 3 & 4 – to gain an overview of the limitations within our current system of economy, consideration of alternatives, and development of design principles for sustainable economy: http:/​/​www.slideshare.net/​mike_earthshine/​a-journeyinsearchofcap2-cleanslateoct2013

Matzler, K., V. Veider and W. Kathan (2015) Adapting to the Sharing Economy, MIT Sloan Management Review, 56.2: 71-77. What is the sharing economy, how is it useful: how do we get sharing business models to work?

Johnson et al (2008) Reinventing Your Business Model, Harvard Business Review, December.  Read and explore further background on the important topic of business models. Think outside the box – how might business models need to change when we start thinking about sustainability issues?

Townsend (2016) Coming of Age: Heroes and villains of the circular economy, Edie.net.  Explore the challenges and opportunities in meeting the circular economy challenge.

Weaver, P., Backhaus, J., Pel, B. and Rach, S. (2017) Transformative change for inclusive society : insights from social innovations and implications for policy innovation and innovation policy (TRANSIT working paper # 9), TRANSIT: EU SSH.2013.3.2-1 Grant agreement no: 613169.

Bäckstrand, K. (2008) Accountability of Networked Climate Governance: The Rise of Transnational Climate Partnerships. Global Environmental Politics 8.3: 74-102.

Stuart, E. et al. (2016) 'Leaving no one behind: a critical path for the first 1,000 days of the Sustainable Development Goals'. London: Overseas Development Institute.

Khan T., (2016) Delivering Development justice? Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Discussion Paper No. 10, March 2016 UN Women


Last updated on 16-01-2018