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2023/2024  KAN-CCMVA2409U  The Walk and Talk of Corporate Sustainability: Operationalising Sustainability, ESG and Circular Economy

English Title
The Walk and Talk of Corporate Sustainability: Operationalising Sustainability, ESG and Circular Economy

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 2.5 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
Min. participants 15
Max. participants 30
Study board
Study Board for cand.merc. and GMA (CM)
Course coordinator
  • Esben Rahbek Gjerdrum Pedersen - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 13-12-2023

Relevant links

Learning objectives
At the end of the course, the students have developed the following insights:
  • The student knows the main building blocks of corporate sustainability, ESG and circular economy..
  • The student understands how corporate sustainability, ESG, circular economy, and related phenomena can make the organisation better and more sustainable.
  • The student has gained insights on how boards, leaders and managers work to integrate corporate sustainability within the organisation.
  • The student is able to spot the key categories of greenwashing and the associated risks.
  • The student is aware of the key challenges and opportunities from measuring and reporting on economic, social, environmental performance.
  • The student is familiar with the core components of the Scandinavian/Nordic perspectives on corporate sustainability.
  • The student is introduced to examples of business models for sustainability and circularity.
  • The student is able to provide constructive feedback on sustainability problems from own organisation and peers.
  • The student is able to formulate realistic solutions to a concrete sustainability problem.
Course prerequisites
Completed bachelor degree or equivalent
The Walk and Talk of Corporate Sustainability: Operationalising Sustainability, ESG and Circular Economy:
Exam ECTS 2,5
Examination form Active participation

The completion of this course is based on active student participation in class. The course will be considered as passed if the students participation - based on an overall assessment - in the class activities fulfill the learning objectives of the course. The individual student’s participation is assessed by the teacher.
The student must participate in A combination of assignment and presentation
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Grading scale Pass / Fail
Examiner(s) Assessed solely by the teacher
Exam period Summer
Make-up exam/re-exam
Oral exam based on written product
The oral part of the re-take is online.
Description of activities
A combination of assignment and presentation: The student must participate in minimum 80 % of the scheduled teaching. In addition, the student must make a 1/2-1 page description of a practical sustainability problem in English prior to face-to-face teaching in Beijing. The problem should focus on the student's own organisation. If that is not possible, the student should pick a problem that an external organisation is facing. Moreover, the student should provide feedback to problem descriptions of two other students (Peergrade assignment or similar).

Based on the theories, models, and tools presented at the course, the student should be able to analyse the problem outlined prior to the face-to-face teaching and discuss potential solutions.
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

The aim of the course is to introduce the students to the main themes, challenges, and opportunities within the field of corporate sustainability, ESG, and circular economy. The students will learn about how companies operationalise corporate sustainability and related phenomena in management and operations. Moreover, the students will learn about some of risks and opportunities from communicating their social and environmental commitments to stakeholders. Last, the students will present and discuss real-life own sustainability challenges online and in class. 


The course will take the point of departure in Danish/Nordic/European perspectives on corporate sustainability, ESG and circular economy.


The course will take place online and face-to-face in Beijing. The primary audience will be practitioners working in China.

Description of the teaching methods
The teaching will be a combination of lectures, case analyses, and individual/groups assignments.
Feedback during the teaching period
Students will get feedback on their proposed problem and solution.
Student workload
Preparation 15 hours
Teaching 40 hours
Exam 15 hours
Further Information

This is a 2 week course that cannot be combined with any other course.


The course takes place in Beijing. Students apply for a seat through the application round, students pay for flight, accommodation, reading materials etc. themselves.

Expected literature

This is a tentative literature list. The final reading list will be uploaded  later. 


Robert G. Eccles, R.G.,  Johnstone-Louis, M., Mayer, C., Stroehle, J.C. (2020). The Board’s Role in Sustainability.

Pratima Bansal and Hee-Chan Song, 2017: Similar But Not the Same: Differentiating Corporate Sustainability from Corporate Responsibility. ANNALS, 11, 105–149,  https:/​/​doi.org/​10.5465/​annals.2015.0095

Villena, V.H. and Gioia, D.A. (2020), A More Sustainable Supply Chain. Harvard Business Review, 98(2):84-93.

Strand, R., Freeman, R.E. Scandinavian Cooperative Advantage: The Theory and Practice of Stakeholder Engagement in Scandinavia. J Bus Ethics 127, 65–85 (2015). https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1007/​s10551-013-1792-1

Julian Kirchherr, Denise Reike, Marko Hekkert (2017). Conceptualizing the circular economy: An analysis of 114 definitions, Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 127, 221-232, https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1016/​j.resconrec.2017.09.005.

Iris-Ariane Hengst, Paula Jarzabkowski, Martin Hoegl, and Miriam Muethel, 2020:  Toward a Process Theory of Making Sustainability Strategies Legitimate in ActionAMJ, 63, 246–271,  https:/​/​doi.org/​10.5465/​amj.2016.0960

van Duuren, E., Plantinga, A. & Scholtens, B. ESG Integration and the Investment Management Process: Fundamental Investing Reinvented. J Bus Ethics 138, 525–533 (2016). https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1007/​s10551-015-2610-8

Lüdeke-Freund, F., Gold, S. and Bocken, N.M.P. (2019), A Review and Typology of Circular Economy Business Model Patterns. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 23: 36-61. https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1111/​jiec.12763

Kortmann, S. and Piller, F. (2016), Open Business Models and Closed-Loop Value Chains, California Management Review, 58(3): 88-108.

Hancock, Alice, and Lauren Indvik. ‘Can Fast Fashion Kick Its Dirty Habits?’ Financial Times, 27 August 2023, sec. The Big Read. https:/​/​www.ft.com/​content/​d9d93d98-eba5-4d4a-9a4d-21b7f824987b.

N.M.P. Bocken, S.W. Short, P. Rana, S. Evans, (2014). A literature and practice review to develop sustainable business model archetypes, Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 65, 42-56, https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1016/​j.jclepro.2013.11.039.

Hörisch, J., Freeman, R. E., & Schaltegger, S. (2014). Applying Stakeholder Theory in Sustainability Management: Links, Similarities, Dissimilarities, and a Conceptual Framework. Organization & Environment, 27(4), 328–346.

Steve Johnson (2023). Companies with good ESG scores pollute as much as low-rated rivals. JULY 31 2023. https:/​/​www.ft.com/​content/​b9582d62-cc6f-4b76-b0f9-5b37cf15dce4


Last updated on 13-12-2023