Sustainable Futures Research Exchange

As part of our commitment to the 'Decade of Action' to address global warming and support environmental regeneration, the Sustainable Business and Clean Growth research cluster regularly host seminars on the broad themes of Sustainable Business and Sustainable Futures.

These seminars aim to share cutting-edge and empirically sound insight into the roles that business, law, social science and policy play in accelerating the shift to a ‘Net Zero’ and an abundant future. In these short sessions, leading academics and change agents from within and beyond the University present lessons learned from academic research and explore how academic insight can help address the practical challenges faced in the ‘Race to Zero’.

A key feature of these seminars is the opportunity provided for the exchange ideas and challenging dialogue - which often leads to some lively conversations. 

These seminars are aimed at researchers, practitioners, business and civic leaders who are keen to engage with cutting-edge knowledge, thinking and practice. Most seminars are online, but each year we host one longer face-to-face event, where we give more time to think and talk about these important themes.

Upcoming seminars

Multi-stakeholder Partnerships Towards Sustainable Development: Theory and Practice

To connect academics and practitioners in order to explore the value of multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainable development and in relation to specific national and regional policy agendas such as Net Zero.

Multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) have become an important tool for achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs) (UN, 2015). As one of the UN SDGs, Goal 17 (Partnership for the Goals) targets the strengthening of collaborative approaches and partnerships in driving and providing resolutions to sustainability challenges. The event will provide an opportunity to explore theoretical and methodological approaches to understating the nature and challenges of multi-stakeholder partnerships in addressing sustainability concerns. The keynote address line-up shows the diversity of theoretical and empirical perspectives. There is a practitioner-lead plenary session exploring perceptions of environmental stakeholders towards partnership and collaborative working. The symposia also offers a number of leading-edge research presentations in the areas of partnerships for sustainable development; collaborative leadership; dynamics learning through stakeholder interactions and more. The event will conclude with a plenary discussion outlining various research strands and identifying potential for collaborative research projects.

Keynote speakers

Find out more information and register for the Multi-stakeholder Partnerships Towards Sustainable Development: Theory and Practice Symposium

Previous seminars

Climate Change and Legal Education

In this seminar (24 November 2022), Dr Bouwer discussed an experiment in curriculum design, mainstreaming climate change, and environmental law education in the Land Law course. Subsequently, through a staff-student co-production exercise, three third-year students conducted an empirical study to evaluate the students’ engagement with these materials, and their broader views concerning climate change and their legal education. Dr Bouwer then explained the rationale for, and critically evaluated the course and the empirical study.  

The role of Industry 4.0 technologies and collaborative innovation models 

In this seminar (30 June 2022), Mubarak talked about the role of Industry 4.0 technologies and collaborative innovation models that promote Green and Eco-Innovations. He also explored green and eco-innovations in the landscape of the fourth industrial revolution, how firms in the Asia-Pacific region perceive and conduct green innovation, how Industry 4.0 technologies can influence Green Innovations and improve supply chain innovation, and the limitations of the existing fourth Industrial revolution to promote green and eco-innovation. 

The long and winding road of applied sustainable business research: from ‘a blueprint for survival’ to the UK net zero strategy

In this webinar (24 June 2022, Fred presented a personal learning journey, recounting some of the pitfalls and pleasures along the way. He explored some of the lessons learned from inspirational researchers, provocateurs and thought leaders and how his research and practice reflected (or failed to reflect) these shining examples.

Pursuing net zero: Systems transformation in industrial sectors

In this seminar (31 March 2022), Professor Peter Ball explored how companies can pursue net zero whilst achieving efficiency and resilience gains that make them fitter and stronger. Their sustainability strategies are reducing their costs, reducing their energy demand and reducing their environmental impact. The knowledge and achievements gained within these enterprises act as a springboard for further gains by working with others and their learning can help others to replicate their successes. Importantly, their ambitions can lead not just to more efficient supply chains, but transformations in the wider business and industrial systems.  

This means that future industrial systems will impact less on the environment and become more resilient, more competitive and fairer. With examples from food and drink manufacturing and foundation industries such as glass and metals, Professor Ball’s presentation drew on multiple systems level transformation research projects undertaken by the University of York Management School to reflect on the barriers that must be overcome, and how concepts such as the ‘six capitals’ illustrate the opportunities and challenges.

How can small businesses make a big impact in the race to net-zero? 

In this Ted Talk presentation (13 January 2022), Dr Paterson argues that we have a good understanding of our climate and environmental challenges; a clear set of solutions to these existential threats and a good of level of support for business to make the shift to sustainability. Our biggest challenge is inertia, and our greatest asset is a nature positive mindset. Fred will show how small firms across the region are already making significant contributions to our sustainable future and how all of us can join them in the ‘Race to Zero’.

How can industrial digitalisation help drive us to Net Zero? 

In this seminar (20 October 2021), Professor Evans talked about how industrial digitalisation helps drive Net Zero manufacturing. He drew on many projects, case studies and latest government reports to explain how some companies are driving toward resource efficiency and how they are using digital technologies to drive carbon reduction alongside labour and capital productivity. Professor Evans also offers some thoughts on the convergence of digitisation and sustainability – the two great changes sweeping global manufacturing – and where this might take us.