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Sustainability Book for Class

  • 1.  Sustainability Book for Class

    Posted 05-26-2019 17:54


    I'm once again scratching my head trying to find a book for my sustainability class. I want the book (or 2 books) to do 3 things:

    1) A list of problems attributed to climate change -- Lester Brown's 2011 "World on the Edge" does that (falling water tables, eroding soil, food scarcity, environmental refugees, failing states), but it's outdated. David Wallace-Wells new book "The Uninhabitable Earth" updates info to 2018, but the second half of the book is not practical. I was hoping Bill McKibben's latest "Falter" would do this, but it doesn't in any logical manner.

    2) Progress being made in terms of solar energy and other renewables, restoring/supporting nature, new agriculture efforts, etc.

    3) Things managers can do to make organization eco-friendly -- Esty & Simmons 2011"The Green to Gold Business Playbook" does that, but it's outdated.

    Is such a book available? There must be. I'd be happy to settle for one book that does (1) and (2) above, and another book that does (3) above. It can even be a book of readings, though one author voice is preferred.

    Denis Collins

    Denis Collins
    Edgewood College
    Madison WI
    (608) 663-2878

  • 2.  RE: Sustainability Book for Class

    Posted 05-27-2019 07:48

    Hello Denis,


    I  have a couple of suggestions that might work for you, however I would suggest that sustainability is not something we want to focus on anymore in the Anthropocene.  The environmental conditions of the planet are changing too quickly and we really need some radical change if we are going to support a planet that can support life not just for humans, but all species in an ecologically healthy way.  The nature of sustainability, to sustain, at this point simply isn't enough.  We are heading off an environmental cliff right now following the IPCC report of last year and the recent UN report that 1 million species are on the brink of extinction.  So we really need to think beyond sustainability and imagine new forms of business models.


    What you might want to consider are a series of journal articles that better reflect your course theme and are more up to date.  I would definitely recommend thinking about incorporating Rockstrom et al. Planetary Boundaries, and Hoffman and Jennings (2015) article that discusses how sustainability programs in corporations have been subverted.  I am attaching both of those to you in a separate email.


    So for texts, think Chris Laszlo and Nadya Zhexembayeva's Embedded Sustainability, which while a bit dated, still is irrelevant.  Laszlo and Zhexembayeva's book coined the phrase "embedded sustainability" and the book has remained extremely influential.


    The End of Sustainability: Resilience and the Future of environmental governance in the Anthropocene (2017) by Melinda Harm Benson & Robin Kundis Craig, is cutting edge and largely unknown in business schools because it comes from a School of Natural Resources perspective.  Business Schools and Schools of Natural Resources should have a great deal of overlap, but we don't because of the siloed nature of academia.  Our scholars should be collaborating across fields as sustainability is by its nature interdisciplinary.  I encourage you to check out this book.


    Also, I would encourage you to think about obstacles to sustainability. Corporations are doing a very good job with the talk.  My work has led me to the greenwashing literature.  A great book that you should consider is : After Greenwashing: Symbolic Corporate Environmentalism and Society 2014), by ONE Division Member Frances Bowen.


    Best of luck!



    PhD Student, Business Administration, OSC Track

    College of Management

    University of Massachusetts Boston

    100 Morrissey Boulevard

    Boston MA 02125-3393


    P: +1 865 304 3428


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  • 3.  RE: Sustainability Book for Class

    Posted 05-28-2019 12:47

    Thank you Matthew for your posted recommendations in response to Denis Collins' inquiry on readings.  I have used the Laszlo & Zhexembayeva book, Embedded Sustainability for 6 or 7 years now in my strategy course and my students find it inspiring.  I like the models they use, and there are many good arguments and explanations, despite a few very dated examples of "sustainable practices" that now look like misguided examples – e.g. praise for Monsanto and Bayer Crop Science being in the "crop protection business". 


    I do appreciate your recommendations on articles that discuss corporate subversion of sustainability.  Teaching here in Calgary, I have a good number of students employed by oil and gas companies (and the banks that fund them), and I'd love to hear other recommendations for books or articles that might help engage with students who are immersed in the messaging of corporate brands and their interpretation of sustainability and climate. 


    Robbin Derry, PhD

    Associate Professor, Strategy



    Dhillon School of Business

    University of Lethbridge Calgary Campus

    345 – 6th Ave, SE, Calgary, AB T2G 4V1





  • 4.  RE: Sustainability Book for Class

    Posted 05-30-2019 14:20

    Hello Robin,

    Thanks so much for posting.  The reason why I posted to the group rather than send an email to Denis was in the hopes that the response would be valuable to others.  I'm sending you a separate email with a few attachments.




    PhD Student, Business Administration, OSC Track

    College of Management

    University of Massachusetts Boston

    100 Morrissey Boulevard

    Boston MA 02125-3393


    P: +1 865 304 3428


    CM  Logo


  • 5.  RE: Sustainability Book for Class

    Posted 05-28-2019 12:47



    You might want to check out our book Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction, which covers the issues you're interested in. I'll email you direct re some sample chapters.





    Professor of Organisational Studies

    Discipline of Strategy, Innovation & Entrepreneurship


    THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY BUSINESS SCHOOL, Rm 4228 Abercrombie Building (H70) | The University of Sydney | NSW | 2006 T +61 2 9351 5860  |  M +61 435 659 780

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  • 6.  RE: Sustainability Book for Class

    Posted 05-29-2019 01:59




  • 7.  RE: Sustainability Book for Class

    Posted 05-31-2019 02:10


    I think most of us struggle with this challenge-how to create a single-course package about the role of business in environmental sustainability in the Anthropocene.  Great suggestions by prior posters.  Not sure I can solve your immediate problem, but perhaps can suggest a menu of resources to browse.  The more interdisciplinary your student class composition, the better.

    1   Business Solutions to Climate Change   No need to cover all solutions, perhaps just the top 10 below which cover your interest in renewables.  One of my classes was tasked with a unique challenge related to #3 – viable products and business models for insect-based protein production in collaboration with biology faculty and students.  The cricket-flour brownies were great although the fried scorpions didn't go down so well (pun intended)!

    #1 in Drawdown table relates to the unsustainable material world we create which leads to my #2:

    1. Product Rematerialization – Moving Towards a Sustainable Circular Economy: For my new venture students, the biggest product design challenge was applying the tools and disciplinary knowledge required by biomimicry, but it is very hands-on process which provided them a focus for their research efforts and often required them to visit science & design faculty on campus:   There was a Biomimicry PDW coordinated at 2017 Academy conference by Dr. Nancy Landrum, Professor of Sustainable Business Management, Loyola University Chicago.  The workshop was co-lead by Dr, Ashok Goel of Georgia Tech's Center for Biologically Inspired Design.   I think a key approach to adopt for purpose of achieving an environmentally sustainable economy (circular) is product materials chemistry using only elements used in biological world and with minimal use of other elements. 
    2. Corporate/Industry Footprinting – The Environmental Impact of Global Supply Chains - Journal of Industrial Ecology Special Issue on Footprinting: GIS mapping, materials flows, and ecological databases, and an application to endangered species:   Currently have undergraduate biology/operations management student team working on project related to ecological footprint of Tesla lithium-ion battery production. 
    3. Incentive & Governance Systems: Tragedy of the Commons – Fishbanks board game still is simple, yet engaging classroom example of this ongoing dilemma but now can be done online: Some interesting environmental and social simulations/events have also been developed by Center for System Solutions in Warsaw, Poland, but I have not had a chance to use them:  One interesting project we had was working with NCSU design faculty and students with hybrid board & app-based game "Nuclear Spring,"  Aside from the game itself, is great exercise for students to imagine how they would rebuild civilization and biosphere after a catastrophic event.  Still in alpha, ECO sim holds future promise along these lines:   Perhaps something to kick-off a class discussion is HBR article on linking executive compensation to sustainability goals:
    4. The Past and Future of Homo Sapiens and Biosphere: The interdependence of the ecology of collective human fictions within nature's objective ecology:  Yuval Harari's talks about his books such as Homo Deus are powerful and suggest where the evolution of human cognition is headed and the implications for us and the biosphere (would be an interesting way to begin & end a course).  Introduction - How homo sapiens became the most "successful" species: (17 min).  Are 7-8 billion humans "imaginative" enough and "flexibly organized" enough as a species to construct and believe in a universal fiction that supports a viable biosphere as well as "happiness" for most humans?    Ending Note:  The Future of Our Collective Human Fiction - AI and the Future of Life and Humanity:  (29 min, start at 2:00) and The Coming AI Upheaval (90 min):   Harari continues to amaze.
    5. 25 Best New Sustainability Books To Read In 2019 – Pick and choose, many very recent and low cost. Possibilities include Designing Sustainable Technologies (2018) – Free Kindle Version: and Sustainable Business Models (2018) -  Rent for $62    



    Iain Clelland, Ph.D.
    Professor & Chair
    Department of Management
    Radford University


  • 8.  RE: Sustainability Book for Class

    Posted 06-04-2019 10:15
    Hi Denis,

    I wrote a brief and to the point textbook on sustainable entrepreneurship a few years ago (see information below).  I wrote it for two reasons.  The first was that there was nothing available aimed specifically at sustainable and environmental entrepreneurship.  The second was that I was frustrated with the popular book options.  Most of them were quite bit of hand waving with little substance.  So I tried to bring more content to the book with a flavor of emerging opportunity.  

    I think you would find it more broadly useful in a sustainable enterprise class, particularly the first three chapters.  Let me know if you want to see it via a personal e-mail, and I can share.  Availability of the hardcopy is limited, but the e-copy looks readily available on Amazon.   And I own the copyright so can work with those who would like to use it.

    Best, Tom

    Thomas J. Dean
    Professor of Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Enterprise
    Department of Management
    Colorado State University
    226 Rockwell Hall
    Ft Collins, CO 80523-1275

    C: 303-818-7094

    Sustainable Venturing: Entrepreneurial Opportunity in the Transition to a Sustainable Economy
    Sustainability, Ethics, and Entrepreneurship Conference
    SEE our Conference:

    How to Pay for Saving Biodiversity: Can Private Sector Involvement in a Global Agreement Help to Conserve Global Biodiversity?   Science, 360: 6388: 486-488. May 4, 2018.  Full text link:

    Sustainable Venturing: Entrepreneurial Opportunity in the Transition to a Sustainable Economy (Pearson Entrepreneurship) 1st Edition

    Sustainable venturing is about harnessing the innovative power of entrepreneurship to solve global social and environmental challenges. Sustainable Venturing attempts to show how that might be accomplished, and how entrepreneurship can be used as a transformative mechanism in our economic system. 

    Sustainable Venturing is the perfect content companion to courses that integrate case studies, speakers, and experiential exercises to engage students in learning about the opportunities for entrepreneurship in sustainability. The text covers a host of concepts, topics, and tools relevant to identifying opportunities, and implementing a business with positive social and environmental outcomes.  It also delivers examples of business models that have contributed to sustainability across a broad array of sectors.