skip to content | Accessibility Information

Sustainable and Ethical Enterprise Group

Sustainable and Ethical Enterprise (SEEG)

Celebrating SEEG: 2017 Relaunch

On 25 October 2017 ‘Celebrating SEEG’ brought together over one hundred delegates and presenters to showcase the cross-disciplinary sustainability-related research, education and engagement activities of the Sustainable and Ethical Enterprise Group (SEEG), which spans the Faculty of Business and Law and the Faculty of Science and Engineering

Chaired by Sally Randles, new Professor of Sustainability and Innovation at the Faculty of Business and Law, the event was co-convened by Dr Olga Kuznetsova and organised by Tom Hindmarch from the Faculty’s Marketing Team.

Professor Sally Randles outlining the future plans for SEEG

Professor Andrew Gibson, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, opened the day. Professor Gibson highlighted the sustainability, ecosystem and climate change challenges the world faces – a challenge embraced by Manchester Metropolitan University which as Sustainability as one its five strategic pillars.

Our international keynote speaker, Professor Philippe Laredo shared his personal experience of 15 or so years of growing and developing the the Laboratoire Territoires, Techniques, Sociétés (LATTS) at the Ecole des Ponts (Paris). Growing from two researchers in 2002 to over 100 today, LATTS is a centre with national and international visibility and global repute. LATTS’s wide portfolio of projects, programmes and themes is focussed around the social sciences of innovation. Philippe wished SEEG luck in establishing what he called ‘a new collective capability articulating sustainable development and innovation’ and sought to help us by providing key insights for developing a recognisable centre. These were:

  • Timeframes are very long – at SEEG we expect to grow with attention to the long-term.
  • Leadership is critical – SEEG is committed to building capability that will transcend and through different leaders.
  • Involve young staff but, as importantly, bring together senior staff, so that different topics can be mobilised around a few core themes able to address the hot issues and ‘big questions’ of the day – SEEG intends to develop as a community that embraces a variety of knowledge domains and competences and participates in academic training and learning.
  • Design, develop and share teaching programmes across disciplines – sustaining a cross-disciplinarily focus in research and informing the curriculum is expected to ensure SEEG’s longevity and continuity.
  • Develop strong postgraduate and PhD capability – SEEG aspires to become attractive to the young research talent.
  • Develop a shared research agenda to connect core academics and external stakeholders – SEEG will pursue opportunities for fostering collaborative and transformative research impact.

Professor Cathy Urquhart, one of the founding members of SEEG talked about the deep roots of SEEG initiated by herself and others in the room, with particular credit to recently retired Liz Walley for her passionate work bringing sustainability into the undergraduate curriculum at the Business School.

Professor Sally Randles outlined the future plans for SEEG developed in consultation with many of the existing SEEG members, whilst welcoming new members, new developments and new directions for SEEG. Current and developing SEEG themes were highlighted which prioritise cross-faculty working, in particular continuing and deepening bridges across the faculties of Business and Law and Science and Engineering.

SEEG will mainly focus on:

  • Education for Sustainable Development.
  • Social Enterprise, Networks and Communities.
  • Sustainability, Entrepreurship, including Institutional Entrepreneurship.
  • Emerging Technologies, Responsible Innovation.
  • Organisations and Institutional Change.
  • Systems, Place, Waste and Territory – including Manchester as a Sustainable City.
  • Natural Ecosystems, Governance and Management.

Among new SEEG, initiatives were highlighted:

  • A CELT-funded research project on Enquiry and Problem-Based Learning leading to a new joint MSc on Sustainability delivered both by the Business School and Science and Engineering Schools, and Technology and Innovation Management (STIM).
  • Cross-disciplinary supervisions for new PhD recruits.
  • SEEG community building and communications through newsletter and emails.
  • An annual programme of events including keynote lectures.
  • Doctoral and early career networking and knowledge exchange workshops.
  • Themed research workshops to facilitate the development of new grant applications.
  • An annual main SEEG event.
  • International research, including new H2020 grant submissions.
  • External engagement with the support of a new informal external Advisory Board.

Professor Richard Preziosi

Dr Olga Kuznetsova, co-convenor of SEEG and one of the founding members led the panel that exposed the audience to the thought-provoking research on alternative business organisation formats (social enterprise, co-operatives). The input of the early career researchers unquestionably helped to make the event interesting and inspiring. Olga invited serious discussions on the limits to the carrying capacity of the planet, presenting the need to radically review macro-economic philosophies and models, and proposing the need for and how we might achieve justice-centred degrowth. The panel speakers included:

  • Dr Mike Bull
  • Dr Javier Lloveras
  • Cécile Berranger
  • James Vandeventer
  • Adam Marshall

Richard Preziosi, Professor of Ecological Genetics and lead of the new Manchester Met Research Centre for Ecology and the Environment took us on a very different journey with an illuminating talk illustrated with large pictures of frogs, lobsters, fish and many other threatened species. His presentation was memorable for both highlighting the gravity of species decline and the accessibility of his delivery for the lay and social science audience members. He discussed the reasons and consequences of species decline across habitats, and the many initiatives he and his teams are involved in around the world on habitat protection and recovery, and species conservation in the face of enormous impacts such as climate change, over-fishing, and habitat destruction from car parks and coastal hotels. He left the audience shocked, sad, and simultaneously energised.

Demonstrating our links with the University of Manchester Institute of Innovation Research (MIOIR) and Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI), the next panel was led by the SCI. Chaired by Professor Alan Warde the session turned to the theme of pluralising consumption and implications for sustainability. Dr Tom Schroeder (University of Heidelberg) talked about proliferating food trends and Dr Dan Welch (SCI) looked at weaknesses in current consumption research. Research which has tended to polarise a practice-based view of consumption which over-emphasises socio-structured effects on how people consume (allowing little room for the autonomous decision making of consumers) and a freely autonomous consumer (allowing little room to acknowledge the effects of socio-technical structuring on decision making and consumption habits and patterns). This caused the audience to reflect on their own consumption and buying habits and led to a number of comical questions and discussion on the audience members’ own practices.

Valeria Vargas

In the afternoon, Dr Elizabeth Price, Head of the School of Science and Environment introduced Sally Randles’s inaugural lecture ‘What is De-facto Responsible and Innovation and Why Does it Matter?’ This work draws on ten years and six years empirical and conceptual work at MIOIR and SCI and funded EU projects and case studies undertaken by doctoral students across Europe and beyond. The lecture was followed by a video presentation from collaborators at Arizona State University. Professor Erik Fisher and Dr Lauren Keeler introduced their work on Responsible Innovation and Education for Sustainability and Responsible Innovation. Erik and Lauren will be visiting Manchester Metropolitan in 2018.

The highlight of the afternoon was the lively 5-minute ‘elevator pitches’. These allowed us to showcase sustainability-related work of academics: six from FoBL (including Jamie Agombar from the NUS) and nine from Faculty of Science and Engineering. They were ably chaired by Tom Hindmarch with the help of his ‘5-minute whistle’, which brought fun and energy to the sessions.

The topics covered, however, were far from humorous. They were very significant, serious and informative. They covering the work of SEEG members on education initiatives, engaging communities in sustainability research, driving sustainability through business supply chains, and survey work across six countries covered by the EU SMART-Maps project on Responsible Research and Innovation. From the natural and physical sciences, more presentations covered the chemistry of waste and waste remediation facilities, waste to resource innovation network and waste regulations, sustainable aviation and aviation industry business models, fuel cell innovation and new opportunities for hydrogen technologies, biodiversity and ecosystem conservation in Brazil, and environmental measurement and management systems consultancy with local organisations. We are happy to put readers in touch with the presenters you are interested in these topics.

Kate McLoughlin

The evening panel welcomed more speakers:

  • Stephanie Lynch from the Manchester Climate Change Agency talking about inspirational grass-roots initiatives of the Agency.
  • Dr Rachel Harding from Cooler talking about successes in Carbon Literacy Training across Manchester.
  • Dr Dane Anderton and Dr Tamara McNeill from Manchester Metropolitan. Dane discussed place-making and leadership competencies at the local level, and Tamara provided an overview of the global reach that Manchester Met's sustainability and enterprise training through the SAUNEC project works with cities in Vietnam.

The discussion, which followed, focussed on Greater Manchester’s ambitious zero-carbon reduction aspirations that will be focus of the new Metropolitan Mayor Andy Burnham’s Manchester Green Summit in March 2018. Whilst there was some frustration expressed from the audience that in recent years such ambitions have been weakly matched at the systemic, institutional and political level in Manchester, there was a hope that focus of devolved local government and the commitment of Andy Burnham and Alex Ganotis, Leader of Stockport Council, will be able to make real change happen this time around.

Feedback after the event confirmed for us that we had captured the interest and imagination of the audience in a way that was fun and full of positive energy. One participant from a local small business said in her feedback:

“A great and engaging event that was informative and stimulating. Would love more of these events to take place, more discussions, more solutions… As a member of the business community, I think it is crucial to have a collaborations framework.”

Evening panel including Dr Dane Anderton (left), Dr Tamara McNeill (second from the right) and Professor Sally Randles (right)

We received a number of follow-up suggestions from the audience and hope to take these forward into SEEG’s forthcoming initiatives, including:

  • A PhD/early career researcher event and network, bringing together SEEG and the University of Manchester SCI.
  • Opportunities for Manchester Metropolitan undergraduates to become more involved in SEEG as part of the wider range of Sustainability related initiatives that the University already organises and facilitates for our undergraduate community.
  • Opportunities for the business community to become more involved with SEEG.
  • An idea to further the community engagement via hosting an open public SEEG event in 2018 around food systems, sustainability, and well-being with specific tailored sessions involving the business community and business networks.

To read the original event schedule, please visit