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Transitions, Innovation and Governance


Title course: Transitions, Innovation, Governance for Industrial Ecology

Coordinator(s): Dr. J. N. Quist and Dr. T. Hoppe
Other involved teachers: -

Entry requirements

This course is obligatory for students of the MSc Industrial Ecology (joint degree TU Delft and Leiden University). This course is also available as an elective to TU Delft master students, but not in 2020-2021.

Description of the course

This course provides an overview of sustainable innovation, sustainability transitions, in particular socio-technical transitions and their governance. The starting point of the course is that sustainable innovation, transitions and their governance are required to bring about sustainable development and transitions to sustainability. Innovation is considered as both technical and non-technical novelty that can be brought successfully to the market, can improve business practices, or can lead to major changes in user practices in society. Sustainable innovation is related to concepts like social innovation, eco-innovation and responsible innovation. It is shown that innovation can take place at various scales from product and technology to system level society and when taking place at a system level it will lead to societal transitions, which are needed to move towards sustainability. Adequate governance, governance strategies and policies are needed to facilitate sustainable innovation and sustainability transitions. The course consist of 4 blocks. The first block introduces basic concepts and frameworks of sustainable innovation, transitions, and governance. The second block teaches major theories of (i) innovation at network and system level, (ii) transitions, and (iii)governance theories and instruments how to govern innovation and transition processes. The third block covers participatory, visioning and co-creation approaches to facilitate and govern transitions to sustainability, while the fourth block provides integration, as well as links to other courses in the IE program. Case and examples are mainly taken from (i) energy innovation & the renewable energy transition, and (ii) circular economy innovation and the transition to a circular economy.

Learning goals:

After completion of the course students:
o understand the main theories and frameworks about sustainable innovation and socio-technical transitions as well the governance strategies thereof,
o are able to apply these theories and frameworks to practical cases in the context of Industrial Ecology, and
o can reflect on limitations and conditions of these theories and how to apply them.

The following skills are trained
o Applying theoretical frameworks and methods from TIG to cases and developing understanding of limitations and constraints of these frameworks and methods, as well as barriers and constraints of exploring and facilitating transitions in real-life.
o Development of research problem statements and research questions
o Participatory methods and vision development

Education format

Lectures, readings tutorials, group work on innovation and governance analysis, presentations, training/tutorial for academic skills.

Assessment forms

The grading is based on an individual part (50%) and a group part (50%). The individual part consists of a written exam based exam on the content of the readings and the lectures. The group part consists of group work on existing cases or to develop a case relevant to transitions, innovation and governance for IE, resulting in a report (45% of the grade) and a presentation (5% of the grade). The results will be presented in a seminar to all students in the programme and teaching staff. It is possible that a joint final meeting with the design course will take place.
In case of unforeseen circumstances or measures resulting from COVID-19, the written exam will be transformed into an online or take-home exam with open questions. This exam will still count for 50%. The assessment will be modified as follows: in case no presentations can be hold, the assignment report will count for 50%, instead of 45%.Final grades are expressed by means of a figure between 1 and 10, rounded to the nearest half. The grade 5,5 cannot be granted. Grades between 5,01 and 5,49 are rounded to 5,0 and grades between 5,50 and 5,99 are rounded to 6,0.


Reading consists of selected journal papers and book chapters on topics relevant to the course. A reading list of articles and chapters and of additionally recommended literature will be provided. Students are expected to collect relevant literature themselves.  


This course uses Brightspace. Course documents, the course manual, announcements etc. can be found via Brightspace. To get access to the Brightspace page of this course, you first need to register via uSis.


This course is open for students of the MSc Industrial Ecology (joint degree TU Delft and Leiden University. This course is also available as an elective to TU Delft master students, but not in 2020-2021. Students can register for the course and exam via uSis.