Duration: 4 weeks, 2 units/week

Module Introduction

The great dilemma that both developed and developing countries face in reorienting their patterns of growth towards a more harmonious interaction between human beings and nature is accentuated by the uneven stages of their current developments. If all individuals and communities across the globe would consume natural resources at the pace of developed countries this would lead to a faster annihilation of the ecosystems while adding on the already unsustainable demands on the biosphere. Although development is a legitimate ambition of less developed countries, this should be pursued within a new green framework where growth doesn’t happen at the disadvantage of the environment. This shift requires interventions that are both political, financial and cultural.

The UN resolution in September 2015 adopting a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity in a new global development framework anchored in 17 Sustainable Development Goals, builds on the principle of “leaving no one behind” and emphasizes a holistic approach to achieving sustainable development for all. To tackle this unprecedented challenge Institutional bodies at different scales and the industry at large will need new professional figures trained to identify the most suitable solutions for transitioning them to sustainability and circular economy.

Module Focus

The module introduces students to the culture of sustainability through the dialogue with different personalities who share a vision on the future. It analyzes key issues and challenges that lie ahead, providing the knowledge and tools necessary to design a decent and fair future for all. It fosters the development of creativity engaged in the search for appropriate solutions in harmony with the environment and the cultural context. It includes keywords for building a ‘common vocabulary’ of the key themes of sustainability, the environmental challenges we face in the coming decades as well as the emerging needs of people.

The module engages students in developing the ‘meaning’ of keywords through the acquisition of new knowledge. They will be involved in processing data collected to identify main themes and challenges. The module is based on a multidisciplinary introduction to the principal lines of research and professional activities in the field of sustainability. Classes are taught by established professionals, innovators and researchers, who will engage in discussion with students. Topics include climate, de-carbonization, emerging technologies, social innovation, the relationship between economy and ecology, growth forecasts and opportunities for society and the region where they operate as professionals.

The Structure

SA 01 - Introduction to Sustainability (1 Unit- 03 Hours Lecture + Seminar) Provides an overview on Sustainability as a multifaceted issue, while establishing a common vocabulary of its key themes, the environmental challenges we face in the coming decades as well as the emerging needs of individuals and communities. Sustainability will be looked at throughout the evolution of early modern, modern and contemporary times, and by identifying key facts and figures that contributed to shaping the meaning that we attribute today to this term.
SA 02 –Sustainable Development Agenda (1 Unit- 03 Hours Lecture + Seminar) Provides an overview on the evolution of the agreements on climate change and the de-carbonization that were carried on since the establishment of UNFCCC in 1994. Specific topics include the Kyoto Protocol, the UNFCCC Parties (Conference of the Parties, COP) that were established to assess progress in dealing with climate change and their milestones, the Paris agreement, the 17 SDGs and SDSN' Roadmap to 2050: Manual for Countries to Decarbonize by Mid-Century.
SA 03 – Carbon reductions strategies (1 Unit- 03 Hours Lecture + Seminar) Provides an overview on International standards relating to Carbon Reduction Strategies and Reporting including WRI GHG Protocol, CDP, ISO 50001, GRI. Specific topics include Sustainable Development Goal 13 – Climate Action - and other latest global and local initiatives to mitigate the impacts of climate change. A focus will be on Carbon Reduction Strategies that will be addressed in the framework of corporate sustainability.
SA 04 – Accounting and Assessment (1 Unit- 03 Hours Lecture + Seminar) Provides a focus on GHG accounting, the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, its operational boundaries and value chain accounting. It will also serve as an introduction to the emissions factors and their verification, emission factors deviations and emission and cost reduction strategies.
SA 05 – Life Cycle Assessment (1 Unit- 03 Hours Lecture + Seminar) Provides a focus on life cycle analysis and the way for business to benefit from its adoption. It offers an introduction to measuring standards to be used in life cycle analysis (PAS2050, ISO14044) and addresses the life cycle methodology through a portfolio of specific examples. It also introduces water footprint, its relevance and management.
SA 06 – Carbon Offsetting (1 Unit- 03 Hours Lecture + Seminar) Provides an overview on the process of carbon offsetting, the comparison between carbon trading and carbon offsetting and carbon offsetting project standards. It will provide a wide panoramic of examples, while introducing the concept of green marketing, that of green products and the use of eco-labels.
SA 07 – Reporting (1 Unit- 03 Hours Lecture + Seminar) Revolves on the purpose of sustainability reporting, the main reasons for reporting GHG emissions, the Carbon Disclosure Project. A focus on the risks and opportunities related to climate change will be analyzed in the framework of the Global Reporting Initiative.
SA 08 – Social Sustainability (1 Unit- 03 Hours Lecture + Seminar) Covers a wide range of topics including well-being and equity, access to basic needs, fair distribution of income, good working conditions and decent wages, equality of rights, inter-and intragenerational justice, access to social and health services and to education, social cohesion and inclusion, empowerment, and participation in policy making. It addresses social innovation and the relationship between economy ecology and social empowerment.