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2021/2022  KAN-CCMVV2411U  Sustainability Challenges 2: Food Systems Transformation (SC2-Food)

English Title
Sustainability Challenges 2: Food Systems Transformation (SC2-Food)

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Min. participants 30
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
  • Customer behaviour
  • Innovation
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 19-11-2021

Relevant links

Learning objectives
  • discuss the key characteristics of food systems transformation in connection with changes in agriculture, energy, water, waste and recycling systems, and biodiversity and natural resources sustainability; identify their scientific, socio-technological, business and regulatory components; and examine their development and interconnectedness
  • develop a system-level perspective that takes an integrative approach towards the sustainability transition of food systems within the analysis of food production and consumption areas covered in the course
  • apply science, technology and business management approaches and assessment tools covered in the course in a ‘capstone food project’ to examine a specific company approach, consumer behavioral change and other societal ‘food sustainability challenge’
  • in the capstone food 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 food project: use the chosen approaches and case to analyze the challenge of sustainable food system transformation; 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.
Course prerequisites
This course is offered in parallel and as complement to Sustainability Challenges 1: Systemic and Multi-disciplinary Transition Approaches (SC1)
Sustainability Challenges 2: Food Systems Transformation (SC2-Food):
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, see also the rules about examination forms in the programme regulations.
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

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.
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 Food Project, students from the participating universities will work in mixed groups to examine a specific sustainability challenge in connection with a food company case, a consumer behavior change or other food system transformational challenge following a systemic approach covered in the course that includes reflecting on interactions with agriculture, energy, water, waste & recycling; biodiversity and natural resources systems.

Student groups for the capstone food project will be formed in connection with participants from the companion Sustainability Challenges 1 course. Group participants will be drawn randomly from the list of class attendees, and groups will include students from all participant universities. The selection of the food system cases assigned will take place according to a balance of company cases and societal transition topic cases. 

In the report, they will be asked to present relevant facts and context of the selected food system transition to 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 food 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 2022. 

Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

Rapid and ambitious transformational changes to the global food system over the next several decades, including adopting plant-rich diets, increasing crop yields and reducing food waste are necessary because rising greenhouse gas emissions from worldwide food production will make it extremely difficult to limit global warming to the targets set in the Paris climate agreement. Business, government and civil society are engaging with these complex sustainability challenges as the world population grows, diets and consumption patterns change as some countries become more affluent, and crop yields increase but, no single actor or solution can transform food systems toward sustainability on its own. 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 choosing to tackle major development challenges while working toward delivering a future where nature and people can thrive. These challenges have global and local, financial, managerial, political, social and environmental components. Tackling them require strong, trustworthy and long-lasting 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: Food Systems Transformation  (SC2-Food) builds upon knowledge and discussions advanced in the companion course 'Sustainability Challenges 1: Systemic and Multidisciplinary Transition Approaches' to examine specific challenges of Food production and consumption within other broad systems: Energy; Water, Agriculture, Waste & Recycling; and Natural and Biodiversity resources. Lectures will be combined with group work and a Capstone Food Project. In the Capstone Food Project groups of students will examine a specific challenge (within a company case an individual behavioural change or a societal transformational case) and assess existing or provide tentative solutions. 


Sustainability Challenges 2 is taught by faculty members and includes students from CBS, KU, DTU and other Universities.  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. 

Description of the teaching methods
• lectures, group work and simulation exercises
• group work on capstone project
Feedback during the teaching period
Feedback is offered as follows: 1. in class usually at the beginning and end of each lecture there will be an open Q&A session; in addition to feedback offered in interaction with students during class and following group exercises during class time 2. as students work in their final capstone group written report. 3. during office hours for all the faculty involved in this course
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


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

Expected literature
  • UNDP HDR. “Human Development Report 2020 | UNDP HDR.” Human Development Report 2020 | UNDP HDR. Retrieved January 15, 2021 (http:/​/​report.hdr.undp.org).
  • FAO. 2020. The State of Food and Agriculture 2020: Overcoming water challenges in agriculture. Rome, Italy: FAO.
  •  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 19-11-2021