March 2019 seminars

Waste and globalised inequalities. The case of e-waste

Tuesday 26 March 12 – 1.30 C37/40 Charles Carter building

Stefan Laser, Dept of Sociological Theory, Kassel University

Waste is inherent to the global economy. In fact, as argued by scholars from waste/discard studies, we are now living in a permanently polluted world. This has been suspected for quite some time now, also induced by spectacular public narratives (e.g., on a so-called garbage crisis). An often recurring feature of such accounts has been its tendency to make all people equal in face of humanity’s danger to drown in its own waste. It is a powerful narrative, still fetched every now and then. Think of recent discussions around plastic pollution in the oceans. Yet it is as wrong today as it was 30 years ago. There is nothing (normatively) equal in the way people are entangled in and affected by the production of waste and processes of wasting. The consequences of waste and pollution are shared unequally, laying the ground for vast injustices.

In this presentation, I will discuss this problem through my research on electronic waste (or e-waste). I will focus on a prominent “solution” to “the e-waste issue”, that is, high-tech-recycling (which, e.g., occurs in the following forms: optimising production networks, enforcing stricter collection schemes, pushing towards professional shredding and recycling equipment, formalization of the informal sector). Today, the push towards high-tech is the most dominant strategy to tackle the e-waste issue, but it produces several problematic side-effects (unintended as well as intended side-effects). Here, in fact, we can see how inequalities are produced and re-produced. At the heart of this is a lack of democratic negotiation, which is also the theme with which I will end my presentation: a call for more democratic and radical approaches towards a reorganization of the economy.


Creating new local infrastructure fit for the 21st Century

Thursday 28 March 12 – 1.30 C37/40 Charles Carter building

Michael Hallam, The Small Green Consultancy, Local Loop, and the Ethical Small Traders Association

Simon Grant, Lancaster Cohousing

We see national and international infrastructures of various kinds as meeting people’s needs less and less, in widening areas of life. Neither globalised business nor the nation state are delivering anything sustainable. We believe that new regional and local initiatives, while perhaps more promising, will only succeed in conjunction with the kinds of personal and interpersonal growth that are being encouraged by many small organisations, in Lancaster as in many other corners of the world. After painting a picture of this kind of “inner” or psychological “infrastructure”, we will ask those present to imagine and share what might then become sustainably possible, starting with here and now.

upcoming 18/19 seminars

Soils, sustainability and natural capital

Victoria Janes-Bassett and Roisin O’Riordan (Lancaster Environment Centre; Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business)

12 – 1.30pm Thurs 15th Nov; C37/40 Charles Carter Building

Roisin and Victoria are both working on the soil value project – valuing and enhancing soil infrastructure to improve societal sustainability and resilience.  In this talk, we will outline the importance and role of soils, in natural, agricultural and urban environments. We discuss soils in relation to ecosystems services and natural capital and opportunities for applying natural capital methodologies to inform sustainable soil management practices.


Energy Fables: Challenging ideas in the energy sector

Jenny Rinkinen (DEMAND Centre; Department of Sociology)

12 – 1.30pm Thurs 6th Dec; C37/40 Charles Carter Building

Energy research and energy related policy making are informed by terms, ideas and stories that reproduce certain ways of thinking about problems and responses. As in other fields, phrases enter common usage, concepts become taken for granted, and shared vocabularies form. Disciplines and approaches build on these foundations, often forgetting that what seems like obvious, or common wisdom is not set in stone nor is it uncontested or uncontroversial.

This talk explores some of the widely told ‘fables’ in the energy world. The aim is to introduce and also problematize some of the dominant ideas, reminding that refrains such as ‘first pick the low hanging fruit’ and imperatives – to keep the lights on, or to engage with the energy trilemma – carry with them, and reproduce ideas that need not, and perhaps should not, be taken at face value. The talk highlights threads and lines of reasoning that run through the energy landscape, and evokes further thinking on what it means to meet carbon reduction targets by taking the scale and character of energy demand more seriously into account.

The talk is based on a forthcoming collection edited by Jenny Rinkinen, Elizabeth Shove (Lancaster University) and Jacopo Torriti (University of Reading), and brings together some of the research carried out in the DEMAND centre,


In a broken world: Towards an ethics of repair in the Anthropocene

Duncan McLaren (Lancaster Environment Centre)

12 – 1.30pm Thurs 24th Jan; C37/40 Charles Carter Building

With the power to break Earth Systems comes responsibility to care for them, and arguably to repair them. Climate geoengineering is one possible approach. But repair is under-researched and underspecified in this context. In a first attempt to establish basic principles for the obligations of repair in the Anthropocene, five disciplines of repair are briefly reviewed: reconstruction of historic buildings; remediation of human bodies; restoration of ecosystems; reconfiguration of cultural materials and artifacts; and reconciliation of broken relationships. In each case ethical practices and debates are described to help identify key themes and challenges in understanding repair. Three interlinked pragmatic ethics or virtues of repair in the Anthropocene are suggested: care, integrity, and legibility. Implications for climate geoengineering, climate politics, and the possibilities of climate justice are explored. Climate repair is defended against objections that it would exacerbate a moral hazard effect, or frame climate responses as politically conservative.


Trying sustainability on for size: an action experiment approach to department sustainability at Lancaster Environment Centre

Jess Davies (Lancaster Environment Centre; Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business)






If you are planning to attend one of the above please let know so that we can ensure the room is of sufficient size.

upcoming 17/18 seminars

Sustainable entrepreneurship as a laboratory of social change?

12.00 – 1.30pm Thursday, 2nd Nov. 2017. C37/40 Charles Carter Building

Agata Dembek (Department of Organisation, Work & Technology | LUMS; Department of Management in Networked and Digital Societies MINDS, Center for Research on Organizations and Workplaces | Kozminski University)


My presentation will consist of two parts. Firstly, I intend to briefly present my research project, in which I use Actor-Network Theory perspective to analyse sustainable enterprises. The research combines extended case studies of enterprises, with discourse analysis conducted at hybrid fora. My goal is to describe and understand sustainability-oriented practices and patterns within organizations, without imposing triple-bottom line scheme of analysis.

Secondly, I would like to present the primary results of a pilot study, focusing on a case of a Polish disposable wheat bran tableware manufacturer. I will discuss the study results, as well as the lessons learned during empirical data collection, and their implications for the further research stages. The study presentation will revolve around questions such as: What would make an enterprise sustainable? What factors are decisive for sustainable enterprise development? How to differentiate actors/actants from conditions?

I would be very grateful for feedback, both theoretical (regarding the project’s conceptualization) and methodological (regarding the study design).

upcoming 2017 seminars

12.00 – 1.30pm Thursday, 23rd February

C37/40 Charles Carter Building

Supplier training and development for sustainability: a multi-stakeholder perspective

Lingxuan Liu (Pentland Centre, LUMS)

Sustainable supply chain management is essential to corporate sustainability. In many cases, supplier development is considered a necessary approach to achieve supply chain sustainability. This presentation will discuss the insufficiency of concept models, methods, and case studies from developing countries regarding supplier training & development for sustainability purposes, and introduce the multi-stakeholder perspective of supplier development based on observational studies and face-to-face interviews with OEMs, suppliers and other stakeholders. The presentation will also introduce the opportunities for collaboration in similar observational studies.

Lingxuan Liu joined Lancaster University as a 50th anniversary Lecturer in March 2016. He has a PhD in environmental policy and governance. He has also spent three years in a global environmental NGO working on supply chain reporting and disclosure. At Pentland Centre, he continues his research and engagement as a “pracademic” on topics including ethical supply chains, circular economy and public participation in environmental issues.


Forthcoming seminars:

Lent term:

12 – 1.30pm 16th Mar

C37/40 Charles Carter Building

Title to be confirmed

David Tyfield (Lancaster Environment Centre/Sociology)


Summer term:

12 – 1.30pm 4th May

C37/40 Charles Carter Building

The Effects of Attribute Information on Environmentally Sustainable Consumer Choice

Juliana Sutanto (Management Science, LUMS)

Michaelmas 1617 Seminars

11 – 12.30pm Fri 28th Oct LT5 Management School

Infusing sustainability into a University Problem-Based Learning environment 

Kathrin Otrel-Cass (Aalborg University)

In this discussion I will reflect on a study that investigated to what extent programmes at the faculty of engineering and science had included sustainability into their teaching and if so in what way. This was based on the commitment Aalborg University had made by signing the Copernicus University Charta on sustainability. I will share the pitfalls and possibilities we were able to identify.

Slides from this session:



12 – 1.30pm 17th Nov C37/40 Charles Carter Building

Freaks, zealots and the silent majority: how MPs understand and act on climate change

Rebecca Willis (Sociology/ Lancaster Environment Centre)


12 – 1.30pm 8th Dec C37/40 Charles Carter Building

To what extent can Natural Capital concepts enable ecological sustainability? An overview of current initiatives.

Duncan Royle, eftec

In recent years there has been growing interest in natural capital ideas within, government, business and the NGO sector. This interest is manifest in the explosion of initiatives, tools and approaches that use natural capital concepts to promote environmental sustainability. This seminar will give an overview of the main current natural capital initiatives/approaches within the UK and globally. Key concepts will be described, as well as the aims and plans of the various initiatives. The presentation will also discuss the potential for promoting ecological sustainability.

Slides from this session:

Bio: Duncan Royle is an Associate Consultant with eftec (Economics for the Environment Consultancy). He has worked with several natural capital initiatives, including a lead role in the development of the Corporate Natural Capital Accounting (CNCA) Framework for the UK Natural Capital Committee. Duncan is an alumni of Lancaster University, gaining his MA in Environmental Management and Consulting in 2013.

2016/17 seminars

We are currently planning the seminars for 2016/17. We are going to try to have a mix of single-speaker and multi-speaker seminars, as interdisciplinary as we can make them!

If you have an idea or are interested in contributing please contact either:

Kathryn Fahy or Dermot O’Reilly

SR+ Seminars 2015/16

The 2016 seminars were:

21st Jan: Cllr Jon Barry, Lancaster City Green Councillor and Mayor of Lancaster.

Title: Greening Lancaster – 25 years of trials, tribulations and occasional successes

Since 1987, Jon Barry has been a Green activist, councillor, cabinet member and mayor in Lancaster. He describes some of the Green, community and sustainable successes and failures along the way. He also explores how deep any changes have been and what their prospects are for the future. He attempts as many funny stories as he can fit in to the time. Jon worked at the University between 1987 and 1999. He now works for the Centre for Fisheries, Aquaculture and Environment Science, based in Lowestoft (don’t ask).


11th Feb:   Nadine Andrews, HighWire CDT

Title: Psychosocial factors influencing responses to ecological crisis: defences, needs and frames

People don’t always act in accordance with their values. In this seminar I identify and discuss psychosocial factors influencing responses to ecological crisis in organisational contexts, which is under-explored in sustainability and environmental research. Psychosocial factors are psychological processes that interact with social factors to influence cognition and behaviour. Drawing on the findings of an empirical transdisciplinary study into the lived experience of sustainability managers and leaders in their work to influence pro-environmental decision-making in their organisations, I show how psychosocial processes may interact to create tensions within the individual. How these tensions are negotiated has implications for effectiveness in responding adaptively to ecological crisis. I focus particularly on the dynamics between psychological threat defences/coping strategies, psychological needs and motivation, and cognitive frames.


10th Mar 2016:  Dr Dmitry Yumashev, Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business, LUMS.


Modelling Global Risks of Climate Change – Dmitry Yumashev – edited

Location: C37/40 Charles Carter Building                Time: 12.00-13.30

Title: Modelling Global Risks of Climate Change

Climate change caused by multiple emissions accompanying our economic activities is now widely understood to be the biggest force that has potential to exacerbate the existing problems facing mankind and negatively affect the prospects of long-term socioeconomic development globally. The recent Paris Agreement has provided the first comprehensive roadmap of its kind which could serve to achieve substantial cuts in global emissions in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The policy changes pledged by the individual countries as part of the Paris Agreement are based on a wide range of modelling studies spanning across the fields of climate science and economics, and their successful implementation relies on management studies tackling the required behavioural changes in individuals and organisations. The work on all these fronts is very much ongoing; in particular, further quantitative assessments of the underlying risks are needed to narrow down the multiple uncertainties and design more effective policies to deal with climate change. In this talk I am going to describe some of the modelling approaches that are being used in shaping climate policy, and will present the latest results of our work at the Pentland Centre aiming to put a global price tag on the rapidly warming Arctic.


17th Mar 2016: Dr Gerald Aiken, University of Luxembourg

Location: D38/41 Charles Carter Building                Time: 12.00-13.30

Title: The Politics of Community Low Carbon Transitions

Taking the title in reverse order this talk first outlines low carbon transition, the system-wide transformation necessary to address the 21st century’s greatest challenges: climate change, peak oil and social and environmental injustices. These challenges are multifaceted, complex and wicked. Increasingly ‘community’ is seen as a major solution by a variety of actors: academics, states and grassroots participants. So secondly, it looks to the increasing positing of community as a site of great promise in this transition. Community is understood variously here, and I will discuss the varieties of community on offer and attempt to understand why community has achieved such prominence.

Lastly then the talk will address the politics of community low carbon transitions. These are the tensions that arise within the state-sponsored use of community to meet the low carbon challenge. It is these tensions that I find most interesting. Community action is rarely smooth, and tensions exist and can emerge within these groups over vision, level of community coherence, and how definite or wide a community’s border should be. But differences also emerge between these groups and their outside. Community has been seen as a form of governmentalisation, getting citizens to behave. In this case to lead more disciplined carbon lives. Some have called the use of community to meet the low-carbon challenge post-political: smothering collective action with a blanket of well-meaning, but inoperative belonging. These tensions also include the difference in subjectivities imagined between those participants and funders of the low carbon communities. The talk is wide-ranging, but specific themes will be described with examples from the types of low carbon communities I have worked with previously: Transition Towns, CRAG’s, and Carbon Conversations.


28th April 2016: Professor Minna Halme, Aalto University School of Business, Finland(Visiting Professor, Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business, LUMS)

Location: C37/40 Charles Carter Building                Time: 12.00-13.30

Title: Our collaborative future: Activities and roles of stakeholders in sustainability-oriented innovation

Abstract: While stakeholders have long been at the forefront of corporate sustainability debates, the emphases have tended to be on stakeholder pressures, or conflict in the management of controversial issues. In this paper we ask how different stakeholders such as NGOs, end users and academic institutions, can contribute to sustainability-oriented innovation (SOI) in firms. Based on 76 semi-structured interviews, we conduct a fine-grained qualitative analysis of stakeholder activities in SOI processes in thirteen different companies across Europe. Our analysis identifies eight roles that stakeholders play in SOI processes: stimulator, initiator, broker/mediator, concept refiner, legitimator, educator, context enabler and impact extender. More traditional roles such as legitimator and educator are less common in our cases. However, emerging roles such as the stimulator, concept refiner, context enabler and impact extender are clearly identifiable and could be particularly valuable for SOI. We argue that secondary stakeholders may actually be more relevant for SOI than primary stakeholders and can play a highly collaborative role.


Mon 9th May 2016: Professor Gail Whiteman, Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business, LUMS & LEC.

Location: LUMS LT06                                             Time: 14.00-15.30

Title: How do companies make collective sense of sustainability challenges?  Using Science-based boundary objects to guide action

Abstract: The growing instability of our planet’s ecological system poses an existential threat to humanity, and corporations play an immense role in shaping the earth system. This study thus examines the process of cross-organizational sensemaking between corporate actors and environmental scientists collaborating to meet sustainability grand challenges at the global scale. We analyze an ambitious joint effort by the world’s premier business association for sustainability – The World Business Council for Sustainable Development – and a globally prominent environmental research network to develop Action2020, a worldwide platform for advancing environmental business policy and practice. We consider how this collaboration was enabled and challenged via the use of a science-based boundary object – The Planetary Boundaries Framework – to facilitate sensemaking for sustainability. Collaborations of this type at this scale may be increasingly important for promoting sustainable environmental futures but are extremely rare and usually confidential. This is the first investigations of macro-scale cross-organizational sensemaking to address grand challenges of sustainability, and to relate the difficulties and affordances associated with using a science-based boundary object to do so. We thus provide a unique window into the inner workings of important but typically tightly controlled interactions.


Thursday 12th May 2016: SR+ Planning meeting

Location: A15 Charles Carter Building                     Time: 12.00 – 1.30

Please email for further details


Thursday 2nd June 2016: Dr Jessica Davies, Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business, LEC.

Location: C37/40 Charles Carter Building                Time: 12.00-13.30

Title: Interdisciplinary dirt: Soil sustainability as an interdisciplinary interface

Abstract: Soils are the foundations for life. Soils provide the vast majority of our food, they provide fibres that clothe us and play an increasingly important role in meeting our energy needs (i.e. biocrops). Soils filter and regulate flows of freshwater and are an important store of carbon in our earth system. They also support a huge wealth of biodiversity and are crucial to ecosystem functioning. As such, soil sustainability is key to the future of our ecosystems, climate, communities and economies. However, soils are under increasingly under threat from land use and management pressures and changing climate. These multiple soil functions and multiple soil threats – in addition to the fact that soil itself emerges from the interaction of biology, chemistry and physics – makes soil sustainability an interdisciplinary challenge.

Jess Davies is a new lecturer at the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business . Her research aims to advance our understanding of the sustainability of soils and the multiple services they provide, and she is interested in finding new ways of integrating this knowledge into decision-making. In this seminar, Jess will give a brief introduction to her research before opening up the seminar to a broader discussion on soil, its importance to society, and the potential for bringing together different perspectives and knowledge in attaining soil sustainability.


2015/2016 seminars and events:

15th Oct:  SR+ review:

The purpose of the meeting was to review the past and current intentions and activities of the network, and to discuss its potential future role. In order to do so:

  • We began with a number of the past and current organisers describing their understanding of the network’s intentions and activities alongside inputs from some members who were not able to attend;
  • In order to inform our discussions on the future of the network we then had some overviews of other activities in Lancaster University related to sustainability and responsibility (the Global Futures talks; the Institute for Social Futures; activities that Facilities have been involved in, including Green Huddle and Green Lancaster; and the Pentland Centre);
  • We then had some small group discussions on the potential future role of the network, and also did a preliminary mapping of other related activities in Lancaster University, and the Lancaster area.

The notes circulated to the network summarise the main inputs and ideas, and list the suggested potential roles for the Network. They also include the preliminary mapping of other related activities in Lancaster University, and the Lancaster area.

Next steps: The notes were distributed to the network, and we invite further comments, suggestions, and information. We have a number of seminars already organised for the upcoming year which we will be running. If we receive further comments and suggestions in the next couple of weeks, we will collate these and circulate mid-November, after which we will organise a ‘planning’ meeting towards the beginning of next term where we will invite people to sign up to activities in which they are interested – some of which may be spin-off groups/activities.

For info on past talks, meetings, etc., see:

2015-16 Schedule: all Thursdays, 12.00-13.30 (check individual listings on Home page for location)

12th Nov:  Dr Noel Cass, DEMAND Centre (Dynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand), FASS. Title: “‘It’s the market, stupid!’: Exploring the barriers to low energy office buildings

3rd Dec:     Dr Carmen Dayrell, CASS Centre (ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science) (with John Urry and Tony McEnery). Title: Changing Climates: Discourses around climate change in the British and Brazilian news media

21st Jan:     Cllr Jon Barry, Lancaster City Green Councillor and Mayor of Lancaster. Title: “Greening Lancaster – 25 years of trials, tribulations and occasional successes

11th Feb:   Nadine Andrews, HighWire CDT. Title: “Psychosocial factors influencing responses to ecological crisis: defences, needs and frames”

10th Mar:  Dr Dmitry Yumashev, LUMS, Pentland Centre. Title: Modelling Global Risks of Climate Change

17th Mar: Dr Gerald Aiken, University of Luxembourg. Title: The Politics of Community Low Carbon Transitions

28th April: Professor Minna Halme, Aalto University School of Business, Finland. Title: Our collaborative future: Activities and roles of stakeholders in sustainability-oriented innovation

9th May: Professor Gail Whiteman, Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business, LUMS & LEC. Title: How do companies make collective sense of sustainability challenges?  Using Science-based boundary objects to guide action

2nd June: Dr Jessica Davies, LEC, Pentland Centre. Title: Interdisciplinary dirt: Soil sustainability as an interdisciplinary interface

June 11th seminar: Co-housing: balancing environmental and social sustainability?

Thursday 11th June, 12.-1.30pm, Charles Carter C37/40 Lancaster University
with SImon Grant Lancaster Cohousing and John Foster Lancaster University

Co-housing: balancing environmental and social sustainability?

Slides available here:

Lancaster Cohousing is a living project in Halton, by the river, with about 40 member households. The vision was to live more sustainably, and the “Passivhaus” homes have been successfully built. The vision was also to govern our shared areas of concern by consensus. What kind of consensus works at that scale? What might make it sustainable socially, or even resilient to societal as well as personal disruption? Simon Grant lives there, and explores some of these governance issues.

John Foster makes some links to issues of resilience.


May 7th seminar: Explorations in first person inquiry and a new cosmological paradigm


Thursday 7th May, 12-1.30pm, Charles Carter C37/40 Lancaster University with Dr Dr Helena Kettleborough, Manchester Metropolitan University Explorations in first person inquiry and a new cosmological paradigm to examine our practice to learn our way into a more sustainable future Given … Continue reading