Challenges and Opportunities in Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy

A one-week intensive graduate-level class available to all. Qualifies for Professional Accreditation.

Please note: this course occurred in the past and is no longer open for registration.

Course Description

This class serves as an introduction to the concept of ‘transition’ to a low carbon, sustainable and just economy and explores the disruptive implications of transition for all aspects of society and the economy.

The political, economic, social, technological, legal and ecological drivers for transition are discussed and debated and students are encouraged to consider the implications of those unfolding drivers for social/community systems, financial/capital systems, energy systems, transportation systems, food systems, water systems and urban/infrastructure systems in Canada and around the world.

Students will learn basic principles of strategy and design, and explore approaches to effective leadership and cooperation across sectors: public, private and civil society.

The importance of an inter-disciplinary and entrepreneurial mindset to addressing challenges and enhancing value through sustainable innovation will be demonstrated with reference to case studies and the personal interests of students in the class.

Learning Objectives / Outcomes

Students completing the class will develop knowledge and experience of:

  • Applying systems thinking, design thinking and principles of social innovation within the constraints of a ‘one planet’ reality.
  • Applying drivers of the world’s transition to a low carbon economy to real organizations in different social realms — turning complex challenges to opportunity in public, private and civil society/community organizations and social enterprises.
  • Developing mindsets and personal skills needed to lead organizations pursuing transition through new forms of value creation.
  • Organizational strategy and product design for transition in different systems: social, financial, energy, transportation, food, water and urban/infrastructure.
  • How to access and apply further learning in transition-related topics.

Class Dynamics

For in-person attendees, this class will run like a typical intensive class: ten sessions of approximately 3.5 hours spread over five days. There will be a maximum of 40 students per class to ensure optimum dynamics and team diversity.

For online attendees there will be limited opportunities to engage with the ‘in-person’ class, but it will be possible to self-organize in learning groups formed in the class depending on technology and the availability of external tutors.

Tutors wishing to take groups of students through the class synchronously or asynchronously should contact the Course Leader by May 1st at the latest via

There will be in-class assignments and presentations but there is no examination or formal course work assumed in the class. Students wishing to turn the class into university or college credit are advised to seek a personal academic advisor, agree on an assignment (or assignments) based on the content of the class with the advisor, and satisfy the advisor’s grading requirements for the program of study in which the student is enrolled.

Students attending at least nine sessions will receive a certificate of attendance which may count towards professional certifications.

Session Format and Content

Each 3.5-hour session will typically include some or all of the following:

  • Consideration of readings and the broader literature and/or contemporary developments featured in the media in recent days.
  • Lecture/guest lecture.
  • Video commentaries.
  • Case studies.
  • Group work.

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Janessa Grossett

Janessa Grossett

Manager, Leading Change

Young leaders are up for the massive opportunities and great challenges in sustainable innovation. They need tangible platforms to validate their ideas, structures and resources to hold them accountable, and direct communication to acknowledge their efforts. The Academy for Sustainable Innovation will fuel them onwards and upwards!

Leor Rotchild

Leor Rotchild

Executive Director, Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR)

CBSR is proud to support the Academy for Sustainable Innovation because it's consistent with our mandate to grow and nurture a community of professionals who are committed to a more innovative, competitive country and equitable, sustainable world.

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Our Mission

  1. Recognizing the urgency of achieving an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 — and the opportunities this creates for scaling innovation, acting as an advocate for our movement, and its future impact.

  2. Supporting the development of a profession of managers and entrepreneurs committed to transition. We are aiming to qualify and accredit a minimum of 100,000 transition managers within 15 years.

  3. Supporting the development of role models and mentoring capacity at all levels – including ‘reverse mentoring’ – and providing for digital matchmaking of those joining the movement.

  4. Creating new educational pathways of accessible and flexible learning in transition-related topics by sharing existing educational opportunities.

  5. Developing new educational opportunities that transcend disciplinary and institutional barriers and leverage new course formats, online and open access resources, conferences, and co-labs.

  6. Join the ASI Community