Sustainability Transitions and Innovation (MSB340)

The global challenges we are facing including the climate crisis, green restructuring, geopolitical tensions, and the need for further digitalization, impact firms‘ financial situations, and long-term growth strategies. As a response, they need to engage in and utilize a wide range of innovation. Consequently, to succeed in contemporary business life, it is essential to understand how technological shifts and global megatrends shape firms’ strategies, investment decisions, and day-to-day operations. Thereby, it is essential to realize that these shifts and trends simultaneously represent threats and opportunities. Either way, they call on firms to contribute to the transition towards a sustainable economy by means of innovation.

This course addresses the consequences of the transition towards a more sustainable economy for the development of individual businesses and for regional as well as national economies. The course delves into the strategies for sustainable transitions, the introduction of business model innovations, and the innovation-based transformation of economic systems. It features insights into the increased internationalization of innovation processes in ‘green’ sectors such as renewable energy and low-carbon technologies. The course extends the traditional firm-centered perspective by stressing the embeddedness of firms into sectoral, territorial, and institutional systems, with a focus on innovation processes.

Throughout this course, students will engage with a diverse array of case studies to explore sustainability transitions through the lens of innovation. The curriculum includes weekly lectures and reading sessions designed to deepen understanding. Furthermore, students will have the opportunity to apply the insights gained from the course within a sustainability business game. In this simulation, participants will assume the roles of a business recruitment team, tasked with making informed decisions regarding green investments and regional transformation, all while using sustainability as a pivotal driver for action.

The course is part of the minor “2. Innovation and Sustainable Development”, but it is also open to all interested students.

NB! This is an elective course and may be cancelled if fewer than 10 students are enrolled by January 6th for the spring semester.

Course description for study year 2024-2025. Please note that changes may occur.


Course code




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Semester tution start


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Learning outcome

Knowledge: Upon completion of the course, students will be able to

  • discuss and interpret the most central theories and debates in the academic literature on sustainable development and innovation. 
  • analyze real-life phenomena (e.g., the transition of the oil and gas industry and the development of green technologies) from sustainability transition perspectives
  • apply the theories of sustainability transitions to tackle real societal challenges  
  • create strategies and make policy suggestions at different levels in promoting sustainability transitions and innovation

Skills Upon completion of the course, students will be able to

  • discuss real-life phenomena of "sustainability transitions" and provide timely suggestions for how to tackle grand challenges from a business and policy perspective.
  • debate, think independently and critically discuss academic publications with your peers
  • communicate effectively to a non-academic audience.
  • work in teams and involve in problem-solving tasks by participating in a business simulation game as well as weekly reading sessions.

Required prerequisite knowledge



Written exam and presentation

Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
In-class individual written examination 7/10 4 Hours Letter grades
Presentation of a business attraction strategy in groups 3/10 Letter grades

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator:

Huiwen Gong

Study Program Director:

Yuko Onozaka

Method of work

The subject will be organized in a combination of lectures, group discussion/work, seminars, and self-study. Students are expected to attend weekly lessons and participate actively in the teaching programme. Expected total work effort in the course is 187.5-225 hours (according to ECTS standard).

Open for

This course is open for master level students. Open for: All, prerequisite: bachelor-education.

Course assessment

There must be an early dialogue between the course supervisor, the student union representative and the students. The purpose is feedback from the students for changes and adjustments in the course for the current semester.In addition, a digital subject evaluation must be carried out at least every three years. Its purpose is to gather the students experiences with the course.


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