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[Report] Seminar “Managing for Sustainability”

On December 18, 2018, the Center for Positive/Empirical Analysis of Political Economy of the Top Global University Project at Waseda University held a seminar for an undergraduate students by Professor Nicole Darnall of Arizona State University. At the seminar, she gave a lecture on organizations’ role in pursuing global sustainability, using quizzes, games, and discussions. Prior to the lecture, Professor Toshihide Arimura, who has been conducting research with her for many years, gave a welcome speech.

First, Professor Darnall gave several quizzes to estimate the seminar participants’ footprints. As a result, it turned out that we needed about three more globes for the people in the world to have the same life style as us. From this, we reaffirmed that the current life style is not sustainable.

Next, Professor Darnall explained that organizations play an important role in pursuing global sustainability. For example, a worldwide chemical manufacturer successfully increased its value as a company, while putting emphasis on CSR. From this, we understood that CSR is no longer a cost.

In addition, using game theory, Professor Darnall explained that cooperation between organizations is indispensable for sustainability but that it is fragile. For example, in situations where a group finds that instead of cooperation, betraying another group could possibly be more beneficial to them, the chances of the group choosing betrayal would be higher. From this, we understood that the difficulty of managing sustainability lies in the vulnerability of cooperation among organizations.

Finally, Professor Darnall discussed a more familiar example of how reducing waste at Waseda University would benefit the university, and what kind of method and hurdles could be considered. Some students mentioned that this would reduce disposal cost and improve external evaluations. On the other hand, others pointed out that methods like reducing packaging for products and abolishing plastic bags for umbrellas at building entrances may be inconvenient for some. Also, Professor Darnall was impressed with the idea of diversifying the size of food. Professor Darnall concluded that we can contribute to the management for sustainability from a familiar place.

Before that, Professor Darnall performed a seminar titled “Advancing Green Purchasing in Japanese and US Local Governments ” on December 4. This seminar was co-hosted by Waseda Institute of Political Economy.

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