Sustainability at BBS: beyond values, a real goal

18 May 2021

Sustainability at BBS is much more than an approach on resources and environment based on awareness. “Sustainability” at Bologna Business School has the meaning of an educational and research-based commitment that develops on all fronts to bring about real change in people, businesses, and society.

This commitment led to the foundation of the new BBS Centre for Sustainability and Climate Change, an innovative entity, unique on the international stage, whose goal is to become a European reference point in the implementation of interdisciplinary and cutting-edge research to issues related to economic, social, and environmental sustainability. Ethics, corporate responsibility, and sustainability are integrated, in the innovative context of the Centre, in managerial training programmes and initiatives, able to generate a positive impact on the community of enterprises – that are supported in their process of sustainable transition – and on society.

A team of researchers for an interdisciplinary and inclusive concept of sustainability

The BBS Centre for Sustainability and Climate Change can count on a full staff of 11 researchers in different disciplines, among which Management, Engineering, Physics, Geography, Medicine and Law, called to work together with the Core Faculty to assist and support companies in the transition towards sustainable processes, products, and business models. Here is who they are.

Maria Alessandra Ancona, Assistant Professor at the Department of Industrial Engineering, Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna. She graduated cum Laude in Energy Engineering and obtained a PhD in Mechanics and Advanced Engineering Sciences (DIMSAI) from the University of Bologna in 2018. She carries out research on energy systems and sustainability, smart energy grids, storage systems and renewable energies. In this article, written for the new portal devoted to the BBS Centre for Sustainability and Climate Change, she explains how “the need to deal with such complex phenomena, like the ones connected to the transition to a planet that places the notion of sustainability at its centre, requires a drive towards multi-disciplinarity, interdisciplinarity and cooperation”.

Carla Cacciotto, Assistant Professor at the Department of Specialist, Diagnostic and Experimental Medicine of Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna. She is a biotechnologist, she worked in several research institutions and she is part of the Mediterranean Center for Disease Control. Her research is mainly addressed to the study of the pathogenic mechanisms of infectious diseases and the application of a One Health approach for pathogen surveillance programmes, impacting veterinary and Public health. In this article she highlights the relevance of health protection as “one of the pillars of the UN 2030 Agenda – Sustainability” and explains that this cannot be guaranteed “if business and production models do not include protection of the environment, working conditions and the land”.  

Davide Donati, Assistant Professor at the Department of Civil, Chemical, Environmental and Materials Engineering of Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna. Davide Donati obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Earth Sciences and a Master’s degree in Engineering Geology and Land Management (2012) from the University of Bologna (Italy); he obtained a PhD in remote sensing and rock mechanics from the Simon Fraser University (British Columbia). He collaborated in various national and international research projects focused on the stability and evolution of large landslides. In this article he highlights data that make you ponder, like when he explains that “according to ISPRA (Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e Ricerca Ambientale – Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research) between 2000 and 2019 hydrologic natural events connected to climate change caused damage for over 5 billion euros every year just within the EEA (European Economic Area)”.

Eleonora Foschi, Assistant Professor at the Department of Management of Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna. Eleonora Foschi is an environmental engineer with expertise in the field of circular and bio-economy. She received a PhD from the University of Bologna with a dissertation on System Innovation and Life Cycle Thinking in the Plastics Value Chain. During the post-doc at the Department of Management, she advanced the research on business models for the circular economy. She is involved in many EU projects and collaborates with a multitude of national and international public and private institutions. In this article she explains how the key for a truly effective research on sustainability is “the creation of socio-technical innovation that completely revolves around social, environmental, and industrial ecosystems”. 

Riccardo Ghetti, Assistant Professor at the Department of Legal Sciences of Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna. He graduated with honours from the University of Bologna (2009); he received an LL.M. in International Commercial Law from King’s College London (2009) and his PhD in company law and regulation of the financial markets from the University of Bologna (2014), during which he spent one research semester at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences Library (2012). He was Academic Visitor to the Law Faculty of Oxford University with an MCR Fellowship of the Jesus College (2016-2017), Visiting Professor at Haifa University, Israel (2018) and lecturer at the European Master’s in Law and Economics (2015-2018). Riccardo’s research has been published in leading Italian and European legal journals. His main areas of interest include directors’ duties, European company law, regulation of financial advice and sustainable corporate governance. He is a member of the Italian Bar Association and has worked for a leading law firm.

Jelena Loncarski, Assistant Professor at the Department of Electrical, Electronic, and Information Engineering of Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna. In 2014, she received the Ph.D. degree from the same Department. In April 2014, she joined the Department of Engineering Sciences, Ångström Laboratory, Uppsala University, as a Postdoctoral Researcher, where she is now visiting researcher. She is currently a researcher with the Department of Electrical, Electronic and Information Engineering, “Guglielmo Marconi”, University of Bologna. In this article she explains how “The principle of interdisciplinarity has become crucial to first understand sustainability and then to create theories, concepts and techniques that go beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries”. 

Toloue Miandar, Assistant Professor of Organization and Human Resources Management at the Department of Management of Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna and at Bologna Business School. Prior to this position, she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Economics and Management of University of Padova and at the Politecnico di Milano School of Management. She received her PhD degree of Economic Sociology and Labour Studies from the University of Milan. Her research areas are: Organisational behaviour, corporate sustainability, sustainable development, and supply chain sustainability. Prior to starting her academic career, she had years of industry work experience. In this article she illustrates the reasons of her trust in the work of the BBS Centre for Sustainability and Climate Change. “I think Sustainable Development Goal number 17- Partnership for the Goals, is the most comprehensive SDG among the 17 SDGs. Therefore, having the possibility of looking at sustainability issues from different perspectives, with a multidisciplinary vision is truly an added value in this area of research”.

Salvatore Pascale, Assistant Professor of Climate Dynamics and Change at the Department of Physics and Astronomy of Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna. He holds an M.Sc. in Physics from the University of Naples “Federico II” and a Ph.D. in Meteorology awarded by the University of Reading, UK. He was a research fellow at the California Institute of Technology with a NOAA Climate and Global Change Fellowship from 2015 to 2017, an associate research scholar at Princeton University and NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory from 2017 to 2019 and a research scientist at Stanford University from 2019 to 2021. His research interests address the understanding of the impact of climate change and the variability on the hydroclimate and extreme events. In this article he highlights the importance of supporting businesses in their pathway towards sustainability, underling that “it is imperative that greater environmental awareness in general, and of anthropogenic global warming in particular, become part of the productive economic world” as “tackling and managing the problem of global warming is, in the medium to long term, in the interests of businesses themselves”.

Sara Zanni, Assistant Professor at the Department of Management of Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna. Researcher in the field of sustainability assessment, Life Cycle Assessment, environmental risk assessment and remediation. She completed her PhD in Civil, Chemical, Environmental and Materials Engineering at DICAM, University of Bologna in 2017. She has been a Climate Kic Pioneer in 2015. She is currently Junior Assistant Professor at the Department of Management of the University of Bologna, involved in several research projects, such as EIT Climate Kic Flagship “ReIndustrialise “and Sustainability Measurement and Management Laboratory “SuMM Lab”. She is an instructor for the Executive Part-Time MBA, of the Hybrid MBA in Sustainable Transition Management and tutor of the Executive Master in Sustainability and Business Innovation. In this article she underlines how “For the business world, sustainability has become an operational condition, as environmental regulations (limiting emissions, impacts and resource consumption) and social ones (implementing policies on fair pay and gender equity, to name but a few) are increasingly binding and restrictive”. 

Andrea Zinzani, Assistant Professor at the Department of History, Cultures, Civilizations of Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna. Junior Assistant Professor in Geography at the Geography section of the Department of History, Cultures, Civilizations of Alma Mater – University of Bologna and Honorary Research Fellow at the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester. PhD in Human Geography (2014) from the Universities of Fribourg and Verona, he held post-doctoral fellowships at the CNRS in Paris (2015), at the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research in Bremen (2016), at the University of Manchester (2017) and at the University of Bologna (2018-2020). In this article he highlights how climate change is “a heterogeneous process, encompassing a broad spectrum of biological and biophysical, social, and cultural, political, and economic issues”. 

A closely-knit, interdisciplinary team, directed and coordinated by Matteo Mura, Director of the BBS Centre for Sustainability and Climate Change and Associate Professor of Management Engineering at the Department of Management of the University of Bologna. Mariolina Longo, Associate Professor of Management Engineering at the Department of Management of Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna, Alessandro Pastore, Director of the Executive Master in Sustainability Transition Management and Industry Leader of the Global MBA in Green Energy and Sustainable Businesses at Bologna Business School. 


What is Sustainability? At BBS it is (also) a question of figures

The BBS Centre for Sustainability and Climate Change is the natural evolution in the context of a constant growth in terms of skills and investments in research on environmental, social, and economic sustainability, with an emphasis on the circular economy that Bologna Business School has been focusing on for a long time now. A growth that today can count on important figures and achievements that are a spur to focus more on these issues, always putting innovation and sustainability at the centre.

  • the university ranks 1st in Europe its commitment on sustainable development (*The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, ed. 2020)
  • 5 programmes designed on sustainability, social innovation and environmental responsibility 
  • 10 years of experience in training on sustainability 
  • 24 programmes that integrated a Business Ethics and Sustainability course
  • 100% of students exposed to ERS topics during their studies

BBS pathways devoted to sustainability: Global MBA, Master Full-time, Master Executive and Open Program to train the managers of today and tomorrow driving a sustainable future.

The Global MBA in Green Energy and Sustainable Businesses is one of the tracks that characterise the Global MBA at BBS, a unique offering integrating a course on corporate sustainability, from the environmental, social, and economic point of view, as a part of the traditional MBA, with the aim of triggering virtuous dynamics of innovation and thus add an ethical dimension to the manager role. The Global MBA at BBS represent a unique opportunity for a connection with local businesses, in a context sensitive to sustainable innovation from every viewpoint, in which our students’ project works find a breeding ground to turn into concrete projects. 

The Full-time Business Management Master’s in Green Management and Sustainable Businesses is a pathway that provides young graduates with the necessary skills to become figures capable of leading companies towards the creation of new business models, supported by a more conscious use of resources. This type of managerial figure is increasingly in demand from companies, which support us in this course with the aim of preparing our students for a future as leaders, aware of the fact that the economy, management, and sustainability now run on parallel tracks and there is no business sector that is not called upon to adapt to the new situation.

The Master’s in Sustainability Transition Management is a hybrid pathway, lasting 12 months, featuring 80% of activities online and 20% in person. What is its strength? A programme rooted in the context of the sustainability transition, focusing on the five main pathways in industry, energy, urban systems, agriculture, and mobility, providing participants with an overview of how sustainability can be concretely translated into tangible economic, environmental, and social achievements. Here again, proximity to businesses and their needs plays a key role in providing participants with the key to a career in step with the demands of the economy of the future.

The Executive Master’s in Sustainability and Business Innovation aims to train new leaders capable of managing sustainability, circular economy, and social innovation processes within their organisations, reconfiguring their business models, or developing new ones. A part-time, work-compatible programme lasting 12 months and comprising 30 classroom days. Its strengths, as with all BBS master’s programmes, are its proximity to businesses and its practical approach, which focuses on real cases and a final project work.

The Executive Master’s in Sustainability Transition Management is a 12-month, part-time, online programme, designed for managers and professionals who, on the one hand, wish to acquire skills and tools to drive the sustainable transition of their companies, and on the other, to experience the real needs in the area of sustainability. This is why each participant is assisted by a professional tutor, an expert in sustainability, who will support him/her in the search for a new, highly professionalizing vision and in the development of the final project work. This is why the Executive Master’s also includes a three-day study-tour during which participants will experience how leading companies in the automotive, packaging, renewable energy and food sectors are moving towards a sustainable transition.

The Open Program in Business Sustainability and Circular Economy is a 4-day classroom course that allows participants to acquire the necessary vision to be able to combine Business Development and Sustainable Innovation processes. A course that allows participants to increase their skills through discussions with university lecturers, managers and consultants who are industry experts, with whom they will be able to analyse the most significant experiences in various business sectors.


Back To Top