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2024/2025  BA-BBLCV2410U  Societal Challenges for a Green Transition

English Title
Societal Challenges for a Green Transition

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Bachelor
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Min. participants 40
Max. participants 60
Study board
Study Board for BSc and MSc in Business, Language and Culture, BSc
Course coordinator
  • Maria Figueroa - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Globalisation and international business
  • Innovation
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 16-02-2024

Relevant links

Learning objectives
  • describe and critically discuss societal challenges of the green transition and what are their implications, main issues and institutions, and interactions between actors involved
  • display and critically reflect knowledge and understanding of theories and concepts that are relevant to the analysis of societal challenges of green transition interventions advanced by business and societal actors
  • demonstrate ability to link the theories, tools and frameworks for understanding societal challenges of the green transition and its application to the empirical material reflexively with relevance to a specific context of intervention and to the actors involved.
Societal Challenges for a Green Transition:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Group exam
Please note the rules in the Programme Regulations about identification of individual contributions.
Number of people in the group 2-4
Size of written product Max. 25 pages
15 pages if there are 2 persons in the group, and 20 pages if there are 3 persons. 25 pages if there are 4 persons. The grade given will be individual.The written assignment can also be handed in individually, however working in a group is recommended. One student should hand in max. 10 pages.
Assignment type Written assignment
Release of assignment Subject chosen by students themselves, see guidelines if any
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Autumn and Autumn
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

The green transition is advancing and global decarbonization efforts are set to transform business, societies and economies across the world. All forms of greening economies and decarbonization interventions have societal implications, and can create winners and losers in a world that is already socio-economically deeply unequal.


In this course, we will explore what are the major goals for a green transition and what are the variety of societal implications from transition pathways and related project implementation. We will explore the social challenges and implications of moving business and societies away from the use of fossil fuels toward use of low carbon energy sources and services, the social impacts of adapting new green technologies and those related to achieving a just and equitable transition.


Different analytical perspectives and examples will be introduced to understand societal challenges of green transitions in different business and societies. In high-income societies that are already enjoying green modern energy services, social challenges for equitable transition poses questions such as: how can new technologies and deployment of low carbon services facilitate maintenance of high standard of living with affordable services. For low-income societies and regions, the social challenges of a green transition presents a different set of questions, such as: how can communities gain access to modern, clean, affordable and reliable services and sources of clean energy, and how a green transition can support job creation and provision of reliable services for industrial development.


All together, advancing a socially equitable and green transition involves engaging with trade-offs in decision-making. Corporations and civil society can be on different sides of a decision, for example, regarding use of land and resources available in territories with high environmental value or inhabited by Indigenous communities, where most of the critical minerals needed for key low-carbon technologies are located. Among businesses, decision-makers and investors seeking ways for attending to meet both Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement Climate Goals there is increasing recognition of the need to understand how green transition projects impact communities where they are siting their interventions.


The class will allow students to work in exploring a variety of country, local and regional case studies to understand how specific context social group conditions can determine the impacts and the potential procedural, distributional and restorative components of justice outcomes of green low carbon interventions.advanced by business and societal actors.


The course consists of three modules.


The first module covers global- international perspectives and scholarly and policy debates about the social, environmental,  economic and developmental challenges of the green transition. This will include exploring different approaches to questions about, moving economies away from carbon sources, questions of access and availability of critical materials and natural resources necessary for the green transition, this module will consider emerging issues in matching green transition and sustainable  development objectives


The second module covers examples at the level of sectors and business approaches, the role of corporations, commodities, and a focus on case studies. Drawing attention to what are opportunities and pathways for  green and low carbon transition are been created and the type of societal challenges that can be identified. The session will consider examples from different geographical and socio-economic areas in different continents to highlight disparities, advances and challenges across the globe.


The last module will turns the queston to individual and collective and civil societal efforts and low carbon practices, and it will consider the extent to which green transition can create alternative social and economic opportunities to improve equity and justice in development practices and investment models. It discusses the challenges to make green transition inclusive and sustainable and the necessary work ahead to meet the aspiration of a green transition that leaves no one behind.


In relation to Nordic Nine

The Societal Challenges for a Green Transition course supports the Nordic Nine capabilities by teaching analytical approaches to understand humanity’s challenges, climate change specifically, and how they may be resolved (NN3).


The course provides the means to explain the elements of equity and justice, socio-technological, and politico-economical structures that replicate prosperity and inequality over generations (NN7).


The stress in the course on climate-vulnerable and climate-forcing assets also helps students examine how business and local communities create value from global connections (NN9).

Description of the teaching methods
There will be lectures combining access to online material and online and in class lectures drawing on different disciplines and presentations with active student participation. Each session is divided between a one-hour lecture on the session topic, and a period of discussion or group activity. This will ensure a balance between the dissemination of key information by the instructor and the opportunity for participatory collaborative and blending forms of learning.
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 group written report. 3. during office hours.
Student workload
Teaching 38 hours
Preparation 120 hours
Examination 48 hours
Total 206 hours
Expected literature
  1. Köhler, J., Geels, F. W., Kern, F., Markard, J., Onsongo, E., Wieczorek, A., … & Wells, P. (2019). An agenda for sustainability transitions research: State of the art and future directions. Environmental innovation and societal transitions31, 1-32. 

  2. Ramos-Mejia, M., Franco-Garcia, M-L., & Jauregui-Becker, J. M. (2018). Sustainability transitions in the developing world: Challenges of socio-technical transformations unfolding in contexts of poverty. Environmental science & policy, 84, 217-223.

  3. Tirado-Herrero, S & Fuller, S. (2021). De-centering transitions: Low-carbon innovation from the peripheries. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, Vol. 41, pg.113-115.

  4. Buhmann, Karin. 2021. “Institutional Investors and Climate Justice: The Role of Investors in Advancing Prevention of Human Rights Abuse in Investment Chains for Fossil-Free Energy.” In The Role of Law in Governing Sustainability. Routledge.

  5. Ciplet, David, Danielle Falzon, Ike Uri, Stacy-ann Robinson, Romain Weikmans, and J. Timmons Roberts. 2022. “The Unequal Geographies of Climate Finance: Climate Injustice and Dependency in the World System.” Political Geography 99 (November): 102769. https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1016/​j.polgeo.2022.102769.
  6. Haldar, Stuti, Ananya Peddibhotla, and Amir Bazaz. 2023. “Analysing Intersections of Justice with Energy Transitions in India - A Systematic Literature Review.” Energy Research & Social Science 98 (April): 103010. https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1016/​j.erss.2023.103010.
  7. Healy, Noel, Jennie C. Stephens, and Stephanie A. Malin. 2019. “Embodied Energy Injustices: Unveiling and Politicizing the Transboundary Harms of Fossil Fuel Extractivism and Fossil Fuel Supply Chains.” Energy Research & Social Science 48 (February): 219–34. https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1016/​j.erss.2018.09.016.
  8. Heffron, Raphael J., and Darren McCauley. 2017. “The Concept of Energy Justice across the Disciplines.” Energy Policy 105 (June): 658–67. https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1016/​j.enpol.2017.03.018.
  9. IEA. 2021. “Net Zero by 2050 - A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector.” Paris: International Energy Agency. https:/​/​www.iea.org/​reports/​net-zero-by-2050.
  10. Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Aalto University, and D-mat ltd. 2019. “1.5-Degree Lifestyles: Targets and Options for Reducing Lifestyle Carbon Footprints.” Hayama, Japan: Institute for Global Environmental Strategies. https:/​/​www.iges.or.jp/​en/​publication_documents/​pub/​technicalreport/​en/​6719/​15_Degree_Lifestyles_MainReport.pdf.
  11. Lacey-Barnacle, M., R. Robison, and C. Foulds. 2020. “Energy Justice in the Developing World: A Review of Theoretical Frameworks, Key Research Themes and Policy Implications.” Energy for Sustainable Development 55 (April): 122–38. https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1016/​j.esd.2020.01.010.
  12. Lamb, William F., Michael Grubb, Francesca Diluiso, and Jan C. Minx. 2021. “Countries with Sustained Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions: An Analysis of Trends and Progress by Sector.” Climate Policy 0 (0): 1–17. https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1080/​14693062.2021.1990831.
  13. McCollum, David L, Luis Gomez Echeverri, Sebastian Busch, Shonali Pachauri, Simon Parkinson, Joeri Rogelj, Volker Krey, et al. 2018. “Connecting the Sustainable Development Goals by Their Energy Inter-Linkages.” Environmental Research Letters 13 (3): 033006. https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1088/​1748-9326/​aaafe3.
  14. McGregor, Deborah, Steven Whitaker, and Mahisha Sritharan. 2020. “Indigenous Environmental Justice and Sustainability.” Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Indigenous Conceptualizations of ‘Sustainability,’ 43 (April): 35–40. https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1016/​j.cosust.2020.01.007.
  15. Millward-Hopkins, Joel, Julia K. Steinberger, Narasimha D. Rao, and Yannick Oswald. 2020. “Providing Decent Living with Minimum Energy: A Global Scenario.” Global Environmental Change 65 (November): 102168. https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1016/​j.gloenvcha.2020.102168.
  16. Moellendorf, D. (2016). The moral challenge of dangerous climate change: Values, poverty, and policy. Cambridge University Press
  17. Morrison, Keith, Moleen Monita Nand, Tasneem Ali, and Sotiana Mele. 2023. “Postcolonial Lessons and Migration from Climate Change: Ongoing Injustice and Hope.” Npj Climate Action 2 (1): 1–10. https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1038/​s44168-023-00060-7.
  18. Rao, Narasimha D, and Shonali Pachauri. 2017. “Energy Access and Living Standards: Some Observations on Recent Trends.” Environmental Research Letters 12 (2): 025011. https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1088/​1748-9326/​aa5b0d.
  19. Seto, Karen C., Galina Churkina, Angel Hsu, Meredith Keller, Peter W.G. Newman, Bo Qin, and Anu Ramaswami. 2021. “From Low- to Net-Zero Carbon Cities: The Next Global Agenda.” Annual Review of Environment and Resources 46 (1): null. https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1146/​annurev-environ-050120-113117.
  20. Wiedmann, Thomas, Manfred Lenzen, Lorenz T. Keyßer, and Julia K. Steinberger. 2020. “Scientists’ Warning on Affluence.” Nature Communications 11 (1): 3107. https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1038/​s41467-020-16941-y.
  21. UNDP 2020 Human Development Report. The next frontier Human development and the Anthropocene published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) the United Nations Development Programme 1 UN Plaza, New York, NY 10017 USA
  22. Yvonne A. Braun and Assitan Sylla Traore 2015 “Plastic Bags, Pollution, and Identity: Women and the Gendering of Globalization and Environmental Responsibility in Mali.” Gender and Society 29(6)863-887.
  23. Sylvia Chant and Caroline Sweetman 2012 “Fixing women or fixing the world? ‘Smart economics’, efficiency approaches, and gender equality in development.” Gender & Development 20(3):517-529.
  24. Naila Kabeer 2005 “Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: A Critical Analysis of the Third Millennium Development Goal 1.” Gender & Development 13(1):13-24.
  25. Christina Abraham (2015) “Race, Gender and ‘Difference’: Representation of ‘Third World Women’ in International Development,” Journal of Critical Race Inquiry, 2(2): 4-24.
  26. Uma Kothari (2006) “An agenda for thinking about ‘race’ in development,” Progress in Development Studies 6(1): 9-23
Last updated on 16-02-2024