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Sustainable Development Goals and Global Production Systems - PhD course

University of Southern Denmark

Department for Technology and Innovation, Odense
Teaching language: English
ECTS / weighting: 5 ECTS
Period: Autumn 2020 (5, 6 and 7 October 2020)
Offered in: Odense

The responsible teacher is Professor and Head of Section SDU Global Sustainable Production Jan Vang,, Department for Technology and Innovation, University of Southern Denmark (Odense). Other teachers are Professor Peter Hasle, Associate Professor Peder Søberg and Associate Professor Malek Malouf.

Send an email to Charlotte Bruun,, to be enrolled in the course - remember to write your name, e-mail address and course name: SDG GPS Autumn2020.

The course is open to PhD students from all disciplines but students coming from outside production related research should expect to read additional materials before starting the course. An individual evaluation of students coming from outside production related research and their background knowledge from their respective disciplines will determine if this is necessary.

Content - Key areas:
Recent years have witnessed an increased interest in the United Nations 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). This new momentum has created new opportunities for conducting research focused the SDGs and how SGDs can be integrated into global production systems. This new research field has almost unlimited potential for contributing with applied as well as basic research insights concerning how to design global sustainable production systems.

Yet, conducting research linking the SDGs and global production systems open up new challenges in respect to understanding how to ensure that the production becomes sustainable. More specifically, conducting SDG research entails becoming engaged in cross-disciplinary research concerned with how to design the research process in collaboration with advanced stakeholders cope with new production configuration challenges and ensuring that new technologies are efficiently implemented and up-scaled, to mention a few examples. 

This PhD course addresses these challenges and aims at providing the PhD students with a broad knowledge base related to the interplay between the SDGs and global production systems. The students will develop a realistic understanding of how companies can overcome the challenges pertaining to becoming sustainable and becoming aligned with the SGDs as well as obtain a developed foundation for how working with the SGDs poses new theoretical and methodological challenges.

The students will also be introduced to how working with the SGDs in the context of global production systems requires a need for engaging in cross-disciplinary research with researchers from operations and production management, organizational behavior, business development and sustainable transition theory.

Learning outcomes:
The students will be gaining knowledge about different approaches to designing multi-stakeholders research with special attention paid to incorporation of lead users, forerunners and similar.

Furthermore, the students develop knowledge about how to incorporate ideas about systems engineering, path creation and sustainability transitions into their research. For practical reasons the course will primarily focus on SDG 8 (decent work) and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the goals).

This course aims at helping PhD students working in fields related to sustainable production to get an understanding of how working with the SGDs challenge their field and how they can overcome these challenges.

Time of classes:
5, 6 and 7 October 2020 (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in week 41)

Day 1:
The first ½ day focuses on the SDGs and the role of global business in reaching them. This includes a positioning of the SDGs in the history of sustainability research, the role of sustainability, human rights and CSR in the global business literature. The second ½ day focuses on cross-disciplinary research with special attention paid to why there is a need to integrate technical research with research stemming from operations and production management as well as business development.

Day 2:
The second day opens with addressing how to design of research in collaboration with advanced stakeholders in a global context. The SDGs require researchers to rethink how they develop new technologies and innovations with numerous stakeholders. Yet, engaging with numerous stakeholders around the globe poses new challenges for global companies as well as for researchers dealing with SDGs in a global production context.  Researchers involved in SDG research will elaborate on their experiences concerning doing SDG research in Myanmar. The rest of the day, the students present their ideas concerning how to overcome challenges to integrating the SDGs in their research.

Day 3:
The third day will introduce how different operations management approaches (e.g. Lean) and insights from the Job Design/occupational health and safety-literature can be used to create global production systems which simultaneously develop higher productivity and compliance with the SDGs. Special attention is paid to lessons learnt from an intervention research project focusing on global fashion suppliers from Bangladesh. The last part of the day is used for student presentations and a panel debate between the different researchers where the students have the opportunity to ask questions and spur debate about the linkages between the SGDs and global production systems.  

Form of instruction /Course type:
ectures, presentations, exercises, mini cases, role games

Individual examination, pass/fail, approval by the teacher on the basis of submitted paper.

This course accepts a maximum of 30 students, and may be cancelled if too few participants enroll, pandemics occur or similar.


  • PhDs enrolled at the Faculty of Engineering at SDU: 1000 DKK (materialer og forplejning)
  • Foreign PhDs: 7000 DKK (current exchange rate app. 940 Euro)


Course dates
05 October 2020 - 07 October 2020
Course organizer
Jan Vang, Department for Technology and Innovation, Faculty of Engineering
Campusvej 55
5230 Odense M