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2020/2021  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 Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Innovation
  • Strategy
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 04-06-2020

Relevant links

Learning objectives
  • discuss the key characteristics in transitions to low carbon energy systems, waste, circular economy and recycling systems, and biodiversity, 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 (waste, energy and food);
  • in the capstone project: present relevant facts and context of the selected ‘sustainability challenge’; identify the key problems, stakeholders and interactions; justify your choice of approaches and relevant data;
  • in the capstone project: use the chosen approaches to analyze the sustainability challenge; assess existing or provide tentative solutions that combine scientific, technological, business and regulatory elements; critically reflect upon the approaches you 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 2-5
Size of written product Max. 25 pages
Definition of number of pages:
Groups of
2 students 10 pages max.
3 students 15 pages max
4 students 20 pages max
5 students 25 pages max

Note that the exam is a group exam. If you are not able to find a group yourself, you have to address the course coordinator who will place you in a group.

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-point grading 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 groups to examine a specific 'Sustainability challenge' in connection with one of the three broad systems covered in the course (ex. circular economy, energy transition; waste & recycling; biodiversity and  natural resources, food and agriculture).

Mixed student groups for the capstone project will be formed at the end Sustainability Challenges 1 course. 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; assessing existing and/or suggesting when posible tentative solutions that combine scientific, technological, business and regulatory elements; critically reflecting upon the approaches used; and providing suggestions for improving these approaches to better fit the problem at hand. The report is due in early January 2021. 



Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

Business, government and civil society are facing complex sustainability challenges that they cannot solve alone. A momentous global commitment was reached in 2015 with the adoption of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Paris Climate Agreement, with countries chosing to tackle major development challenges while working toward delivering a future where nature and people can trhive. These challenges have global and local, financial, managerial, political, social and environmental components. Tackling them require strong, trustworthy and longlasting partnerships between the private and public sectors, or multi-stakeholder initiatives involving 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, and 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 specialist in different fields regarding the complex challenges that are involved. Business plans can fail because of lack of understanding of their technological complexities; scientific breakthroughs may be abandoned or rejected because clearer communication to the public or the political system is lacking; policy relevance may be unappreciated and technological innovations end up financially unfeasible.This course seeks to strengthen student´s capabilities to work toward filling these gaps.


'Sustainability Challenges 2: Specific Systems and Capstone Project' builds upon 'Sustainability Challenges 1' to examine specific challenges and transitions taken place within three broad systems: Low-carbon transitions in Energy; Circular Economy, Waste & Recycling; Biodiversity and Natural resources, Food and Agriculture. Lectures will be combined with group work and a Capstone Project. In the Capstone Porject groups of students will examine a specific challenge (within one of the broad systemic challenges covered in the course) and assess existing or 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: Transition to Low Carbon 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: Circular Economy in Waste and recycling systems
    • Waste and infrastructure recycling (@KU)
    • Recycling and reuse: a circular economy approach (@DTU)
    • Waste as a valuable resource: business models, innovation & entrepreneurship (@CBS)
  • Sessions 8-10: Biodiversity, Natural resources, food and agriculture systems
    • Sustainable food systems and Biodiversity (@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 


30 seats for CBS students and 30 seats for credit students

Description of the teaching methods
• lectures, group work and simulation exercises
• group work on capstone project
Feedback during the teaching period
Group feedback
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 the second mandatory course 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 Sustainability Challenges 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 04-06-2020