European Responsible Universities: Example of CBS and UCC

Presentation written by:



Thomas BRUNET,


Presentation supervised by: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Elena M. BARBU,


Example 1: Copenhagen Business School



Denmark, this little country of about 5, 6 million inhabitants is, since the beginning of the 20th century, one of the pioneers in term of energetic transition. Denmark is now ranking at one of the first place for best sustainable countries in the world thanks to the implementation of a global policy towards the development of renewable energy, waste treatment and social equity. As a proof the Danish government implication in the ecological societal matters, we can mention the following figures. In 2014, 55% of the energy produced in the country came from renewable sources such as wind power and solar. The objective fixed by the government is to provide 50% of the country needs with wind power and also to reduce by 40% carbon dioxide emissions. This objective is only reachable because citizens themselves have taken control over the energy through a democratic process. Finally, the governments also plan to cut down totally the fossil energies in the country before 2020. The Danes advancement in term of social and environmental responsibility is mainly due to cultural way of thinking. Indeed, Danes are dedicated to always saying the truth and being honorable, that means no lies, no trickeries, will to always help other and work for team/ community achievements rather than individual achievements. In conclusion, we can say that they are a natural responsible nation. In this context, we can legitimately wonder what is the place of Danish university regarding environmental and social responsibilities matters. In the following document, we will pay a deeper focus on Copenhagen business School CSR engagements.

Description of the University:

Introduction :

Copenhagen Business School was founded in 1917. Nowadays, the University welcomes more than 20 000 students supported by 1 500 employees and teachers. Copenhagen Business School has became through time one of the largest Business School in Europe and the First Business School in Denmark. Copenhagen Business School (CBS) is located in the center of the capital and so is strongly implemented within the lively and innovative business environment of the Danish capital. The economical fabric is composed of many disruptive start-ups surfing upon new technologies and also well implemented multinational firms from the chemical area and banking service area. We are now going to present briefly the university and then pay a focus on its social and environmental strategy. To do so, we will first describe the CSR department and we will follow up explaining what are the department’s past achievements, current missions, and future plan.

CBS Vision:

CBS plans to become a world-renowned Business School which knows about the crucial role of business and the public sector in the evolution of the society – but also recognize the important manner in which business processes are impacted by the society. One of the most important challenge of CBS is to train student who will be able to bring their contribution with innovation and entrepreneurship to high level employment. CBS also aims to provide the society with high level research so as to help dealing with the many matters and challenges society has to deal with. Finally, CBS aims to totally and harmoniously integrate in a constantly moving society.

The mission:

It is CBS responsibility to bring knowledge and innovative thinking to companies, to the next generation of business leader and managers, but also to the society in its entirety. CBS contribution is taking the form of research and research-based education. CBS feel the obligation to educate not only young but also experienced people for the business word by teaching them with sound basis knowledge and the latest international research for the purpose of value creation and sustainable development.

Key figures:

So as to clearly understand the size and the international radiance of the university but also to bring a proof of the university weight within the society, we are now going to display a few key figures that. First, CBS welcome about 22 000 students each years, which represent the not negligible 7, 7 % of all the university student in Denmark. Among these 22 000 students, 4 000 are international students (18%), this high amount of international student is explained by CBS large international network and partnerships. Last year there were 320 cooperation agreements worldwide. The university has 181, 6 million € funding.

CBS sustainability department:

Organization and functions:

The CBS sustainability department takes the succession in 2016 of the sustainability Bis platform which existed from 2011 to 2016. The CBS sustainability unit promotes and coordinates sustainability-related projects and initiatives at CBS. The principal mission is to support and enhance the development of research, education and outreach activities on sustainability matters across Denmark at first but also across the world. All the unit initiatives are financially supported by many diverse departments such as the department of business and politics, the department of management, politics and philosophy, and last but not least, the department of management society and communication. We can identify a threefold objective to the collaboration : First of all, the unit aims to promote internal coordination between departments within CBS regarding sustainability missions. Once internal actors are well coordinate, it can allow the sustainability unit to acquire a better external visibility of its work towards the society and so outreach a various audience with modern issues related to sustainability and social responsibility. Therefore, we can conclude that the most important function of CBS sustainability is definitely to assume the coordination and the communication not only among CBS internal actors but also to external stakeholders so as to get them to know about CBS activities in the field of sustainability. One important point to enlighten is that CBS sustainability unit is a totally separate entity, this involves an own advisory board, roles and also responsibilities. The daily operations are carried out by the director (Vallentin Steen) and the project manager (Sarah Netter).

CBS sustainability unit: the vision

CBS sustainability mission is to launch and coordinate research, teaching and outreach activities related to sustainability across both CBS departments and academic disciplines. CBS works to emphasize cross-disciplinary dialogue and collaboration among researchers, experts and professionals nationally and internationally. Moreover, CBS sustainability works to create network and expertise connections from the social, technical and natural sciences so as to help break down barriers between knowledge pools. This is a requisite part of ongoing effort to understand and cope with sustainable development as a threefold challenge, including social, environment and economy.

CBS missions:


CBS Sustainability works to settle new possibilities for collaboration that can help extend the

scope of sustainability-related research at CBS and also support joint research applications. The operational strategic priorities of CBS sustainability will be evolving overtime. For the present time, CBS sustainability aims to create opportunities for co working and research development within two specific areas. The first one is related to the environment as it is the area of circular and sharing economy whereas the second one is focusing on social equity through sustainable management and work life projects. Regarding the circular and sharing economy, CBS is enhancing and promoting initiatives to design new production systems and processes (more circular and less linear) and develop new digital platforms for sharing. This first area of activity has great potential for research collaboration through the collaboration and the mutual involvement of different departments and disciplines at CBS along with researchers and teachers from two other Danish universities; The Technical university of Denmark (DTU) and the University of Copenhagen. Those actions are already being pursued by CBS sustainability. The second activity involved the creation of a platform so as to include management processes and work life in modern organizations both public and private. The objective is to create a platform to address the modern challenges which employees and managers are facing in term of

health, work life balance, burnout, motivation, work place environment and sick-leave. Therefore, the platform aims to, bring answers to those issues thank to collaboration. This research direction clearly assume the will of CBS sustainability to emphasize the social pillar of sustainable development and to strengthen the collaboration among researchers at CBS but also with the rest of the economical fabric. Moreover, CBS sustainability is one of the first CSR unit to deal with the latest issues related to the work life such as the issue of recognition and trust. As a conclusion, we can say that the missions led by CSR sustainability and the issue it addresses are contemporaneous challenges that directly affect the society in its entirety ( citizen, economy, environment. The many researches and projects which are accomplished thank to the close collaboration of researchers, business managers and member of the civilian society really make things move toward Social and environmental responsibility within Denmark but also worldwide.


Totally different from the research mission, CBS sustainability also manages to deliver and to

communicate sustainability values to the future Danish business manager through a teaching program at CBS. Teaching missions reveal themselves to be relevant mediums for on-going cross enrichment between researchers from different research environments and students as well as between theory and practice. The teaching process is not only relying on providing research-based teaching but also and mostly on getting research inspired by teaching and considering students and their knowledge as a opportunity to knowledge development. Solicitations for professionals and researchers to give lectures about sustainability at CBS are core part of collaborative efforts and network building strategy undertaken by CBS sustainability. At last, lectures about sustainability provide interesting and exciting input to new form of teaching method and learning postures by establishing bridges between theory and practice.


The ultimate mission of CBS sustainability is to outreach and spread its values to the rest of the society. CBS sustainability thus design new networks and support existing networks such as for instance COSI (Copenhagen Sustainability Initiatives) and work actively to create new networks and strengthen partnerships to research environment at other university, to companies, organizations and student associations. Outreach can take many different forms at CBS sustainability but the principal way is the implementation of new CBS sustainability Networks, which includes professionals from leading businesses all around Denmark but also organization in the field of sustainability. The objective behind this is to establish a research-based forum for knowledge exchange and candid debates about cutting edge topics in sustainable development. At last, the CBS sustainability network has the double objective of allowing stakeholders easier access to researchers and resources related to sustainable development.


We have seen that Copenhagen business school has, since the 2011, followed the Danish infatuation for sustainable development which includes social and environmental issues through its sustainability department. CBS department for sustainability has a threefold mission. First, it addresses directly the sustainability-based challenges- both environmental and social – that the society need to face in 21th century. Then CBS, clearly takes its responsibilities as the biggest business School in Denmark by providing a qualitative teaching to its students regarding contemporaneous issues and way to address them such as the workplace environment, sick leaves, motivations at work, environmental sustainability in business. At last, CBS has the ambition to make the most people aware of environmental and social sustainability across business circles and civilian society by leading an ambitious outreaching policy towards them.



Example 2: University College Cork (UCC)


As of March 1st 2018, there were 4.8 million habitants on the green isle of Ireland (, 2018) . Unsurprisingly in 2017, Ireland was ranked as the 19th most economically friendly country in the world with a score of 86.6 EPI rating – while it should be duly noted that number 1 was scored 90.68, a mere difference of 4.08 (Oliver Smith, 2018).

Ireland has many companies and organisations working day and night toward a better tomorrow. For example, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (seai) are working with homeowners, businesses, communities and government to transform how we think about, generate and use energy (Sustainable Energy Authority Of Ireland | SEAI, 2018). In 2017, the seai managed to attain a €105 million investment which was divided between energy research projects and investments in home and community energy upgrades resulting in 137 communities which are now part of the sustainable energy community network setup by the seai. Secondly, with the help of the seai an Irish citizen can get €600 towards the purchase of an electric car, and if one already has purchased an electric car a grant will be given to help with the installation of a charge point on their property. With regard to our energy efficiency targets as a country, as part of the EU targets, by 2020 we hope to have 16% of our final energy use being sourced from renewables, within that 16% we hope that 10% of our energy use in the transport sector will also be sourced from renewables. In addition to those targets, we as a country have set national sub-targets in order to help us attain these results (heat at 12% and electricity at 40% from renewable resources). In 2014, a report showed that Ireland had 2 Universities in the top 20 greenest Universities in the world (Times Higher Education (THE), 2018).


Founded in 1845, University College Cork is located in the south of Ireland with approximately 20,000 students. It is one of four constituent universities of the federal National University of Ireland and is a leading Irish educational and research institution: University of the year four times in recent years (2003, 2005, 2011 and 2016), with a research income that is consistently one of the highest in the country. In 2014 it was ranked as the second most greenest University in the world by The Times Higher Education (Times Higher Education (THE), 2018). Today, it is ranked as 9th globally in the UI Green Metric World University Ranking of sustainable universities and was the first higher education institution in the world to achieve ISO 50001 certification for energy management (Green Campus, 2018) .

UCC Sustainability Strategy (UCC SUSTAINABILITY STRATEGY, 2016)

UCC has developed its sustainability strategy from the United Nations General Assembly which passed a resolution which formally adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals. As a global university, UCC is fully aware of the contribution it can make to realise these goals.

Their vision is to be a world-class University leading the drive towards sustainability in Higher Education Institutes and beyond, to our community, region and planet.

Their mission comprises 5 main points:

1. To facilitate the development and empowerment of future leaders in sustainability

through our research, teaching and learning activities;

2. To engage our student body, staff and wider community in becoming active citizens for


3. To minimise the local, regional and global environmental impacts of our educational,

research, and ancillary operations, and infrastructural development;

4. To enhance the health and well-being of the University and wider community through the

facilitation and promotion of healthy eating and living as an integral part of sustainable


5. To be an overall positive force in the journey towards creating a sustainable world for all.

Green Campus Programme (Green Campus, 2018)

In 2010, UCC became the very first third level education institute worldwide to receive the

Green Campus award, followed by becoming the first third level institute to renew its Green Flag in 2013, and again successfully renewing it in 2016. UCC initiated it’s Green Campus Programme in 2007. There were a number of students in the Environmental Society who were extremely passionate about the environment and were determined that UCC should be more involved with this issue in a more disciplined and tenacious manner. Green Campus is comprised of a seven- step programme and rotation of improvements in energy, waste, water, biodiversity and transport. UCC takes its role in protecting the environment very seriously and has significantly evolved its Green Campus programme since its conception. Sustainability is now embedded across UCC’s operations, teaching, research and outreach thanks to commitment and support from all levels in the university. The Green Campus committee is student-led whose chairperson is the Student Union’s Deputy President. They meet regularly to deliberate on new ideas and campaigns which could improve the campus. In addition to that, a Green Campus Forum is had biannually which is attended by people from all functions within the university. Its purpose is to ensure continuity throughout the academic cycle. Following on from my point of constant improvement of the Green Campus Programme, in recent years UCC has established ‘green teams’ in certain buildings which has resulted in the reach and impact of green campus being spread throughout the university. The objective of these teams is to improve the environmental performance of their buildings and the comfort level for staff and students alike.

Departments and Courses

Sustainability and care for the environment are evident throughout UCC’s curriculum with

relevant subjects taught across a range of academic disciplines, including: civil engineering,

energy engineering, chemical sciences, biological sciences, environmental science, geography, spatial planning, geology, sociology, medicine, law and philosophy. I will develop two areas of UCC courses / departments which merit recognition.

1. The School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES) specialises in

marine, terrestrial and freshwater environments. It is a very important department within

the University whose mission statement is “ To advance and apply our understanding of

the natural world through excellence in research, teaching and innovation” (University

College Cork, 2018)

2. University Wide module on Sustainability (Kirrane, 2018)

The university wide approach taken by Green Campus which aims to include every student and faculty member in UCC has been endorsed by the development of this university wide module on sustainability, through partnerships and collaborations with all sectors of the campus and more. It has been developed by 15 differents disciplines in UCC, numerous members of the Green Forum and the Green Campus committee and key operations staff from Buildings and Estates. The meaning behind ‘university wide’ is that any student from any discipline can enroll for this module without any additional fee. Not only that, but the module is open to students, staff of UCC as well as the general public.


From the statistics and information given above, it is safe to say that UCC is a very socially

responsible university which fully understands its role in bettering the environment through its students, its staff and its local community and continues to improve its research and involvement in this matter.


For CBS:

For UCC:

Green Campus. (2018). About . [online] Available at:

[Accessed 2 Mar. 2018].

Kirrane, M. (2018). University Wide Module in Sustainability . [online] Green Campus.

Available at:

University Wide Module in Sustainability

[Accessed 2 Mar. 2018].

Oliver Smith (2018). Earth Day: The world’s most (and least) environmentally-friendly

countries . [online] The Telegraph. Available at:

countries/ [Accessed 31 Feb. 2018].

Sustainable Energy Authority Of Ireland | SEAI. (2018). Home – Sustainable Energy

Authority Of Ireland | SEAI . [online] Available at: [Accessed 31

Feb. 2018].

Times Higher Education (THE). (2018). The 20 “greenest” universities in the world .

[online] Available at:

2018495.article [Accessed 31 Feb. 2018].

UCC SUSTAINABILITY STRATEGY. (2016). [ebook] Cork, Ireland, pp.2, 4, 5, & 6.

Available at: [Accessed 2

Mar. 2018].

University College Cork. (2018). About | University College Cork . [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Mar. 2018]. (2018). Ireland Population (2018) – Worldometers . [online] Available

at: [Accessed 31

Feb. 2018].