Big Questions Little Time - Conversations on Sustainable Development

We need to find solutions to the societal challenges we are faced with, and we need to find them now! Welcome to "Big Questions Little Time - Conversations on Sustainable Development"

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"Big Questions Little Time - Conversations on Sustainable Development"


The two MSC centres Centre for Business and Development Studies (CBDS) and CBS Sustainability are the driving force behind the new podcast "Big Questions Little Time - Conversations on Sustainable Development". This podcast brings in international thought leaders, representing a wide variety of fields and disciplines. Following the same structure for each episode, we wish to critically explore if, how, and under which conditions any given approach can bring about change and contribute to sustainable development. 

The title of this podcast refers not only to the inherent urgency for us to find possible solutions to the societal challenges we are facing, but also the 20-30 minute time frame for each episode. The podcast is based on the webinars series of the same title, developed and launched in 2020.

If you wish to stay in the loop or participate in the podcast, please contact centre manager Sarah Netter,


You can find the latest episode here.


Past Webinars

Lucia Reisch, El Erian Professor of Behavioural Economics and Policy, University of Cambridge
" Can nudges help us get to net zero? If so, how?"
Climate change is one of the existential risks of today. How can the demand side of markets be motivated to contribute to limiting greenhouse gas emissions as needed? The 6th IPCC Assessment Report features a new chapter on demand-side climate politics. It is the first time within the IPCC process that consumer behaviour – avoid, shift, improve consumption choices - is spotlighted. At the same time, in light of the war in Ukraine and unheard energy security risks, public debate and politicians’ interest have recently turned to feature behaviour change as a promising option. In this talk, I discuss the opportunities and limits of demand-side policies, specifically behavioural insights-based policies. Where do we stand? What do we know? Where is the evidence still scarce? What are the limits to using behavioural approaches in liberal societies? 

Lucia Reisch brings two decades of experience with high-level policy consulting on consumer behaviour and behavioural policy. She has been founding chair of the Advisory Council for Consumer Affairs of the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (2014-2018). She has also been a member of the German Bioeconomy Council, the German Council for Sustainable Development (2010-2019), and a regular member of high-level scientific committees and ad hoc groups consulting for the German Chancellor Angela Merkel on sustainability issues (eg the Ethics Commission after Fukushima, 2011). Beyond the German government, Lucia has consulted for international organisations (EU, OECD, UNEP, World Bank, Inter American Bank) and governments worldwide on making use of behavioural insights.

Lucia is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Consumer Policy (SpringerNature), and on the editorial board of Behavioural Public Policy (Oxford University Press) and Food Policy (Elsevier). She is a contributing author to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 6th Assessment Report. Her academic achievement has been rewarded with being elected as a lifelong member of the German National Academy of Science and Engineering. At Queens’ College, she is Academic Director of the YNOT Institute. She is also a honorary Leibniz Professor at the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology in Bremen, and an Elected Member of the Technical Academy of Science of Germany.

Professor Reisch was a professor of consumer behaviour and policy at Copenhagen Business School prior to joining Cambridge Judge Business School.

September 29th 2022, 14.00 - 15.00 (CET)

Gary Gereffi, Director Global Value Chains Center, Duke University
" Are global value chains reallyt resilient? Lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine"
Global supply chains have become a pervasive feature of daily life since the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic in early 2020. However, the vulnerabilities created by supply-chain fragmentation have been an aspect of national security concerns due to the rise of economic nationalism, fraying geopolitical alignments, and trade wars since at least 2016. This presentation explores what global value chain (GVC) resiliency means in a post-pandemic world. A starting point is to recognize that resiliency is a multidimensional concept that has different meanings at three levels: the firm (operational efficiency vs. risk management); global industries or GVCs (appropriate governance structures and various diversification options); and countries (national security plus economic, social, and environmental priorities). COVID-19 medical supplies will be used to illustrate how resiliency dynamics vary at the product level, and the Russian military conflict with Ukraine is highlighting how global supply chains can be weaponized at the multilateral level. A few policy options for creating more resilient supply chains post-pandemic will be discussed.

Gary Gereffi is Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Director of the Global Value Chains Center at Duke University (  He received his B.A. degree from the University of Notre Dame and his M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees from Yale University.  Gereffi has published over a dozen books and numerous articles on globalization, industrial upgrading, and social and economic development, and he is one of the originators of the global value chains framework.  Recent books include:  Global Value Chains, Governance and Globalization Strategy (Gary Gereffi, Pavida Pananond and Torben Pedersen, co-editors), special issue of Global Strategy Journal, 10(3), 2020; Handbook on Global Value Chains (Stefano Ponte, Gary Gereffi and Gale Raj-Reichert, co-editors), Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2019; Global Value Chains and Development: Redefining the Contours of 21st Century Capitalism (Cambridge University Press, 2018); and Global Value Chains in a Postcrisis World: A Development Perspective (The World Bank, 2010). 

Current projects include:  (1) the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the resilience of global supply chains; (2) the impact of U.S. protectionism on jobs and regional trade agreements; (3) evaluating how the digital economy and Industry 4.0 are likely to affect international business strategies and economic, social and environmental upgrading; and (4) shifting regional interdependencies in East Asia and North America, with a focus on China, South Korea and Mexico vis-à-vis the United States. 

Gereffi was invited to testify at the US Senate Commerce Committee hearings on “Implementing Supply Chain Resiliency” in Washington, DC on July 15, 2021. The hearing details  and the video recording (webcast) are presented here, along with a follow-up Duke interview.

May 24th 2022, 14.00-15.00 (CET)
Melissa Leach, Director of the Institute for Development Studies

"How and Why Covid-19 requires us to recast sustainable development"

The COVID-19 pandemic can be placed amongst several current or impending disruptions in the Anthropocene era; one that both demands and offers directions for a major re-casting of sustainable development. My talk will consider how the pandemic’s origins and unfolding effects reveal cracks in fundamental systems and deep problems with longstanding development models. I will suggest five key themes to inform post-pandemic transformations: re-working relationships with non-human natures; redressing inequalities and vulnerabilities; taking uncertainty seriously; building resilient economies, and reconfiguring state-citizen relations. Where mainstream sustainable development approaches have often been top down, rigid and technocratic, I will suggest that post-pandemic sustainable development must have a radically transformative, egalitarian and inclusive knowledge and politics at its core, and reflect on the extent to which crisis offers opportunities for such transformation to happen.

Melissa Leach is Director of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex. She co-founded and co-directed the ESRC STEPS (Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability) Centre ( from 2006 – 2014. As a social anthropologist she has carried out long-term ethnographic fieldwork in West Africa while engaging with scientific, policy and public discourses and debates around health, sustainability and development. She has led numerous interdisciplinary, policy-engaged research programmes in Africa and beyond. Amongst external roles, she was  vice-chair of the Science Committee of Future Earth 2012 – 2017, lead author of the 2016 World Social Science Report 2016 on Challenging Inequalities, and is a member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food). She is now working on COVID-19 as co-lead of the Social Science in Humanitarian Action Platform and the Wellcome Trust-funded Pandemic Preparedness Project. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and in 2017 was awarded a CBE for Services to Social Science.

April 28th 2022, 14.00 - 15.00 (CET) 
Jason W. Moore, Binghamtom University
“Climate Denialisms, Hard and Soft. Or, Why We Can't Avoid the History of Capitalism in the Climate Crisis” 
Among the legacies of a half-century of environmental studies is a denial of the history of capitalism in the unfolding climate crisis. In this presentation, environmental historian Jason W. Moore explores -- and seeks to resolve -- two entangled problems in contemporary interpretations of climate crisis and climate justice. One tendency reduces the problem of Holocene climate history to Man and Nature. Rather than reconstruct the long history of class, climate, and civilizational change, we are delivered neo-Malthusian stories that are not only empirically flawed but politically disabling. Another tendency, common across the humanities and social science, reduces the problem of capitalism to social constructions abstracted from the modern history of climate and environmental change, beginning the invasions of the New World in 1492. Moore shows how today's climate crisis is rooted in the emergence of a capitalist world-ecology during the Little Ice Age, and how a politics of climate justice that ignores that history recapitulates a "soft" climate denialism.  
Jason W. Moore is an environmental historian, historical geographer and professor of sociology at Binghamton University. He is the author of, most recently, for example, Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism (2016), and, A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things (2017). His books and essays on environmental history, capitalism, and social theory have been widely recognized, including the Alice Hamilton Prize of the American Society for Environmental History (2003), the Distinguished Scholarship Award of the Section on the Political Economy of the World-System, and the Byres and Bernstein Prize in Agrarian Change (2011). Furthermore, he coordinates the World-Ecology Research Network.
January 27th 2022, 15.00 - 16.00 (CET) 
Michael E. Mann, Penn State
“Can we really solve the climate crisis? If so, how?” 
Human-caused climate change is arguably the greatest threat we face as a civilization. Efforts to attack and deny the scientific evidence have constituted a major impediment to action over the past two decades. At a time when we appear to be moving past outright denial of the problem, we face a multi-pronged strategy by polluting interests to distract, deflect, attack, and divide the climate activist community. This involves, among other things, (a) efforts to deflect attention from systemic change and regulatory policy solutions to personal behavior, (b) doomist framing that disempowers us by exaggerating the threat in such a way as to make catastrophic changes now seem unavoidable, and (c) the promotion of false solutions that seek to enable the continued burning of fossil fuels that is at the very root of the problem. It is important to recognize while there is great urgency in acting, there is also agency. There is still time to for us to avert the worst impacts of climate change if we act now and we act boldly. I will discuss what we can do to fight back, emphasizing the importance of both urgency AND agency in efforts to save our planet.
Dr. Mann is Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science and Director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State. His research focuses on climate science and climate change. 
November 18th 2021, 14.00 - 15.00 (CET)
Vijay Prashad, Tricontinental Institute for Social Research
“Can we (really) achieve ’sustainable development’ under the contemporary capitalist system? If not, what are the alternatives?”
Is it possible to expand the range of human happiness - another phrase for development - and to be steward of nature - another phrase for sustainable - given that a small minority of the world own all the property of the world? What is the kind of alternative possible? Twenty-five research institutes from around the world have produced a plan called A Plan to Save the Planet. It suggests the path ahead.
Vijay Prashad is the director of Tricontinental; Institute for Social Research and Chief Correspondent for Globetrotter. His most recent book is Washington Bullets, with a foreword by Evo Morales Ayma.
October 28th 2021, 14.00 - 15.00 (CET)
Mette Morsing, PRME UN Global Compact
“Can sustainable business really be achieved through responsible management education?  If so, How?” 
Mette Morsing (Ph.D. 1994), Global Head of PRME Principles of Responsible Management Education, UN Global Compact (New York) will lead the second seminar in our series. The UN Secretary General has called for us all to deliver on the Decade of Action. It seems that the planet and its people are calling for even more immediate action.
How may management schools and in particular leadership education offer a way to contribute to the wicked problems on the planet? There is no easy or ‘one-way quick-fix’ solution to these problems and in this Big Questions Little Times Webinar Series, Mette Morsing will focus on three issues of strategic importance - 3 x S: Society, Students and South.
Before May 2020, Mette Morsing was the Mistra Chair of Sustainable Markets and Executive Director of Misum: Mistra Center for Sustainable Markets at Stockholm School of Economics (Sweden) (since 2017). She was also Professor of Corporate Social Responsibility at Copenhagen Business School (CBS, Denmark) (since 2007). She was the Founding Director of CBS Center for Corporate Social Responsibility in 2002, and she was the Academic Director of CBS Sustainability Platform 2011-2016 with the assignment to integrate sustainability across fifteen academic departments. In 2003, she was the co-founder of Academy of Business in Society (ABIS, Bruxelles), where she served as a Member of the Board of Directors for 10 years. Morsing was in 2010 appointed as a member of the executive board of directors at LEGO Foundation and Melting Pot, and in 2016 she was elected by her colleagues to serve on CBS Board till 2020. Morsing has held a large number of advisory and honorary positions in corporate councils and policy committees on issues related to sustainability. She has been teaching sustainability-related topics at undergraduate, graduate, Phd and MBA executive programs over the past two decades.
September 24th 2021, 14.00 - 15.00 (CET)
Mikkel Larsen, DBS
"Does ESG actually create positive impact?" 
Mikkel Larsen, Group Chief Sustainability Officer of DBS and a committee member of Global Compact Network Singapore’s Management Committee, will launch the webinar series with a session on ESG Investment. 
ESG investing boomed in popularity in recent years, with many ESG-linked stocks and indices outperformed or less impacted as compared to the wider market. Besides financial outperformance, ESG investing can also lead to a better and kinder future for humanity, and a cleaner and more balanced natural environment, depending on context, intention, and perceived outcomes. ESG investments can influence change through meaningful capital allocation to address some of our critical global challenges: climate change, public health and sanitation ( E), to employee well-being, income inequality and diversity (S), and corporate regulation (G), to name a few.
Despite all these, more evidence is still required to quantify real impact through ESG investments, as this can be shaped by the robustness of financial instruments and the maturity of ESG investing landscape.
June 24th 2021, 14.00 - 15.00 (CET)


The page was last edited by: Department of Management, Society and Communication // 01/30/2023