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Change-Inspired Scholarship Toward Sustainable Enterprise: Applications in Green Supply Chain Management

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Samir K. Doshi.

Abstract: The private sector generates more than 60% of global gross domestic product (GDP). The inputs required to produce the goods and services of the 10 largest U.S. firms, alone, are valued at $1.6 trillion (more than 10% of U.S. GDP ). The largest global corporations generate over US$2.15 trillion in annual ‘externalities’ to society in the form of depleted natural capital. These are big problems from big, global actors; but does current knowledge allow for effective implementation of new and significantly more sustainable business models? For example, if Walmart were to put its “green” money where its mouth is, where would it start? If Amazon were to tackle emissions from the “last mile” of its online package deliveries, where might it find reductions? If Pepsi were to address the climate and water risks of its supply network, how might it incentivize upstream investments by independent suppliers?

Academic research, and its ability to assess system-wide dynamics and trade-offs, identify socio-technical capacity for change and inform ‘change design,’ can ill afford to stand detached from economic and civil society grappling with implementing change of this scale. Dr. Timothy Smith, Associate Professor and Director of the NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise (NiSE) at the University of Minnesota, will present a model of change-inspired academic scholarship that directly engages practitioner experts in the development of rigorous, and relevant, collaborative research – such that newly leveraged resources can be brought to bear on solutions to sustainability challenges and the knowledge necessary to discover and implement them.

Bio: Timothy Smith is an Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences, Policy & Management and Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering at the University of Minnesota, where he is also the Director of the NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise at the Institute on the Environment. His research interests include policy and market adoption of technologies that enhance environmental performance, public and private governance of sustainability, and sustainability systems modeling in decision-making. His work has been published in top-tier journals across the multiple fields of management, public policy, and environmental sciences. Most recently, his efforts have been directed toward collaborative research with corporate and NGO partners to explore global supply chains as institutions for collective action. He is a former AT&T Industrial Ecology Fellow and has advised the Environmental Protection Agency, the General Services Administration, the National Research Council’s Committee on Certification of Sustainable Products and Services, and numerous companies and organizations on supply chain sustainability and product-based policies.

This talk is part of the Centre for Industrial Sustainability Seminars series.

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