COSI: For the Next Generation of Green Leaders

Tietgenkollegiet Copenhagen

For several decades, Copenhagen has been one of Europe’s leading “green capitals,” if not the single foremost.  One of the most important reasons for this is the way green business and initiatives involve “stakeholders” at all levels, from the government to businesses to citizens to students.This is true across many sectors, from shipping to public transit to energy production. One of the most important sectors in green development which has been emerging in more recent years is education. In my research in sustainable initiatives in education, one called COSI – Copenhagen Sustainability Initiative caught my interest. This initiative combines sustainability education with educational networking, two very important aspects of the “green transition.”

What is COSI?

COSI is an inter-university network, connecting sustainability departments and courses throughout three educational institutions in Copenhagen. The initiative was launched in the fall of 2014 by educators from each of these institutions:

Katherine Richardson of Københavns Universitet

Stefano Ponte and Mette Morrison of Copenhagen Business School

Michael Hauschild of Danmarks Tekniske Universitet.

These representatives now make up the “steering committee” at the head of COSI. The organization’s stated goal is “to create joint research, education and outreach activities on sustainability. The partnership recognizes the need for cross-disciplinary view on sustainability across universities.”

COSI offers a certificate program across the three universities. This requires two classes in “Sustainability Challenges” – “Systems Thinking” and “Specific Systems and Capstone Project.” Additionally, the organization sponsors many talks at the three institutions, such as the “Sustainability Seminar Series” and “Sustain DTU,” an annual conference on sustainability. COSI also schedules other speakers on topics such as environmental policy, governance, and urbanism throughout the year.

Along with COSI’s main goals of education and networking, the organization also engages in business- and sustainability-related research projects. These include SUSTAIN, a project which “seeks to further develop the international and Danish research on sustainable transport development,” and is supported by the Danish Strategic Research Council.

It is in large part because of initiatives like COSI that the city of Copenhagen, and Denmark as a whole, has remained one of the world’s leaders in sustainability in business, science, and urban development.