Sustainability and Circular Economy

Sustainability is all about on the one hand understanding sustainability and on the other being a leader in driving sustainability. In order to achieve this, we start at the beginning by briefly introducing key questions: What is sustainability? What are sustainability practices? Why should you care? What sustainable issues are related to your own area of interest?

Acquired skills

  • Understand key leadership theories (know)
  • Realize your full potential as leader (knows how)
  • Understand what sustainability and the circular economy are (know)
  • Demonstrate the ability to create new business models (knows how)
  • Connect leadership and sustainability into a solution to reverse global warming (shows how)

General information

Course term: 122.07. - 02.08.

Free seats: 12

Price: 850 €

Category: Bussiness & Marketing

Status: Early Bird

Deadline: 30.04.2024


You will be required to write a short reflection piece every day on the topics discussed the previous day. Online information, interactive tools and videos will be used in class and for the making of final assignment .

The sustainable leadership course will develop your skills and awareness every day of the course. The sessions will be half practical and half theoretical. There is no time to get bored!


  • Day 1Setting the stage: After introducing ourselves (Who am I? Why am I here? What is my carbon footprint?), you will be introduced into the history of sustainability. We will discuss some of the current sustainability challenges (e.g. CO2 reduction, energy transition, biodiversity, circular economy and human wellbeing)
  • Day 2Personality and leadership: Who is your favorite sustainable leader and what makes him/her a good leader? Personality and leadership, leadership styles and theory on leadership. Theory X and theory Y. Leadership styles and the 5 levels of leadership. What is your personality type? Different individuals may have different strengths and skills that make them well-suited to particular roles within a team. Which team roles suit you best?
  • Day 3Exploring the donut. The concept of “doughnut economics” is based on the idea that humanity needs to operate within social and ecological boundaries. The inner circle of the donut represents the minimum social standards that everyone on the planet should have access to, such as clean water, food, and health care. The outer circle represents the ecological limits of the planet, beyond which we are damaging the natural systems that support life on Earth.
  • Day 4From the global scale to business practice. Leadership and corporate strategy, the Resource Based View (RBV), the value chain and the translation of strategy into daily business practice. Introduction to reporting practices, the Sustainable Development goals and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).
  • Day 5From theory to practice: company visit: we will visit a company in Prague and be study how the company operates. The company will provide you the information you need for your final (group) assignment. We will make use of the GRI standards and apply some of these standards to the company. Extra credits: for those students that need/want extra credits a supplementary case study will be presented.
  • Day 6Starting with solutions for the local company. Alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). A brief overview of the Drawdown Project: 100 solutions to reverse global warming. What kind of implications does it have for the selected company?
  • Day 7The organisational structure of the company. Focusing on governance and employees of the selected company. Why is governance important, not only for the local company, but also for a societal structure? What kind of leader are you?
  • Day 8Stakeholder management. Identifying stakeholders. Who are the stakeholders of the local company? Customers, suppliers, employees, to name some examples. We learn you to identify these important and relevant groups. Why are they important? Identifying not only by financial means, but also looking from different perspectives. The concept of true costing comes into play. Next step will be how to incorporate these stakeholders in GRI? How does a sustainable leader and his company engage stakeholders?
  • Day 9Materiality: identifying and assessing impacts. Determine material topics for the company. What kind of externalities are there? We learn you to identify some externalities. On the other hand, can you really identify all externalities? The great philosopher Karl Popper will have a brief look around the corner. The same things that are mentioned by Nassim Taleb in The black swan. How would you react leading the company? Can you possibly react?
  • Day 10Wrap up: we end the course not only with a summary and a conclusion, but also some food for thought for the future. What are the next steps? The PDCA-cycle can help you a lot with these steps. Remember: it's not going to be easy, but in the end we all benefit!

Course is running: Monday - Friday, 9:00 - 14:00


Simon van Renssen & Marcel S.


University of Groningen

Lecturer at Saxion University of Applied Sciences


This course is conducted by two Lecturers, Simon van Renssen and Marcel Slootweg.

Drs. Simon van Renssen graduated at the State University of Groningen in 1987 as a Social Psychologist specialized in Marketing and Marketing Research. His company, Cognicon attracted many regional business customers. Among them were KPN (the Dutch telephone company), CasTel (a cable TV company), US West, various energy companies (Gasunie, Essent) and many smaller firms in the advertising and marketing industry. After 10 years in the marketing research industry he switched his career to education. He is an experienced lecturer in subjects like Consumer Psychology, Marketing Research, Retail Marketing and Sustainable Business. He has been a guest lecturer at several universities in Europe and China.

He is married with 8 kids (most of them are students now). He owns a farm house with 2 dogs, 5 cats, a pony, a rooster, 5 chicken and two Bentheimer Black Pied pigs.

Marcel Slootweg

Marcel Slootweg LinkedIn profile

Drs. Marcel Slootweg graduated at the State University of Leiden in 1993 as a Historian specialized in contemporary foreign politics. After his study, he started working for Rabobank as a trainee Investment Specialist. From then on he worked in the world of investment management and private wealth management for several Dutch private banks, included ING. He also graded as a Certified Financial Analyst in 2004. This is a post-graduate education in Business Economics, specialised in equity and liabilities. He gained most of his working experience at Staalbankiers (greenfield operation) and Van Lanschot Bankiers (managing two desks of investment specialist and later a greenfield operation in Wealth Management).

After 25 years in banking industry he switched his career to education. He is a lecturer at Saxion University of Applied Science in subjects like Finance, Ethics and Sustainability. He is married with 3 kids (most of them are students now). He likes sports, especially field hockey, golf and cricket.

Course outline

Literature (suggested)

  • Epstein, Marc J., Making sustainability work (San Francisco 2008)
  • Tepper, Jonathan, and Hearn, Denise, The myth of capitalism (New Jersey 2019)
  • Raworth, K., Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist (Vermont, USA, 2017)


1) "I liked the depth we went through with the reflections. More specifically, I appreciate the fact that you really went through the documents and gave feedback also from your own experience. It made me felt I could relate more and thus I was able or at least I wanted to go even deeper in my own reflections. The different kinds of assignments were a lot of fun and very educational as well. It was a good way to be creative and be active with my brains by doing other things rather than just reading and discussing. I especially liked that you joined us with the assignments as well! The discussions about theories and then trying to implement or seek for our own examples accordingly was very nice. It gave a good practical sense of understanding and how we can then also could implement in future events. Thank you for sharing your own experience!"

2) "Videos were very inspiring and easy to relate to - I liked the personal point of view and that we had to go really deep into our own heads - You very good teacher and I liked your transparency and that your also shared with us. You made it relevant to our own backgrounds. The wide range of different methodologies we used. The reflections. (Even though it was very demanding sometimes because there was a lot to do all the time, not much rest in general. Nevertheless, I very much appreciate this way of learning and reminding myself about what I have actually learned today and how can I implement this in my own background)"

3) "Use of videos Very good explanations Activities in the course."

Sustainable Leaders

The journey starts with awareness by investigating what kind of a leader you are and letting you see different facets of your leadership.

We continue by investigating what kind of a leader you are and letting you see different facets of your leadership. We look at different perspectives using well-known leadership theories to set your leadership style in context. Once the foundation is laid we can start practicing what we preach and confront the reality of our own leadership skills.

We believe you can lead to make the planet a better place to live and will help you focus your attention to reversing global warming. We explore this using the concepts of the doughnut economy. We are looking at the global thresholds and to the social foundations that should limit the global economy.

We need leadership to incorporate the doughnut in business. What is corporate sustainability and what is the connection between being a leader and sustainability? We will explore the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the use of metrics to monitor companies. We will bring the theory into practice by applying the acquired knowledge on a local Prague company.

Am I a leader? What kind of leader can I be? What is needed to develop as a leader? What is sustainability? What is the connection between being a leader and sustainability?

Be an effective leader to change the world.

We believe you can lead to make the planet a better place to live and will help you focus your attention to reversing global warming.

How to implement sustainability

Theory is nice, but practicing is better. Not only by visiting the local company, but also making efforts to implement sustainability. What topics can you think about and why can these topics make a difference? What’s the relationship with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals? Are there connections with The project drawdown to be made? By selecting and implementing, you can actually contribute to sustainability.

During the course, you’ll experience that implementing and executing a sustainable strategy is far more complicated than you could ever imagine. Even for a SME it’s a challenging task to become more sustainable. Biased pitfalls and unforeseen outcomes will give you new insights that sustainability is not just around the corner.

Create a new business model for a circular economy

Today's world is in a transition phase meaning how we will live tomorrow will be very different to what we or our parents have known. An example of this change is the fast developing concept of using services instead of owning products like the purchasing of a lease contract for your house boiler or washing machine instead of the traditional purchase of these products. The "Uberization" of our society, forces us to think in different ways as resources becomes scarce and digitalization is prominent.

These new business models (for instance leasing instead of purchasing) will shape tomorrow's business and life. You will learn how to create new business models and will apply it in a practical way.

What is a business model? how can I create my own which would serve a circular economy?

Overall you will discover the leader in you and will put it to good use.

We look forward to facilitating this challenging and exciting process through intensive and fruitful exchanges during class.


You will receive an official Certificate of Attendance upon completion of your course. Please inform the organizing staff if you require any extra supplements, such as Transcript of Records. The student is eligible to receive up to 5 ECTS credits, however please follow the instructions here and consult the acknowledgment process with your university in advance.


  • attendance in class 15%
  • team assignment 40%
  • individual assignment 35%
  • exam 10% (optional, if required by home University)

Course time total 125 hours

  1. Course runs 2 weeks Monday to Friday 9:00-14:00
  2. Total time of in-class work = 50hours
  3. Preliminary assignment = 10hours
  4. Preparation = 65hours


Course fee includes the course itself, application fee, study materials, afternoon/evening social activities and events, welcome and goodbye drink as part of the graduation party. Other expenses, such as meals, accommodation, insurance, personal expenses, public transportation ticket, extra activities (such as trips outside of town over the weekend and entrance fees), and required equipment (i.e. pencils, paper for illustrations) are not included in the price.

Please note, after the 30th of April 2023 there will be a late enrollment fee charged in the amount of 50EUR on top of the course fee.

Terms and Conditions - Cancellation fees

Costs of living in Prague


For accommodation options, please visit the dedicated page

*Program/Course Outline is subject to change.


  • English level B1-B2.