ETH Academy on Sustainability and Technology 2016

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Innovation for Sustainability: The Role of Technologies, Organizations, and Institutions

To download the call for papers, please click here (PDF, 632 KB).

June 17-22, 2016, ETH Zurich

The many sustainability challenges facing society in the 21st century, such as climate change, resource scarcity, and the transformation of the energy system, require new technologies and new approaches to be developed and diffused. Organizations and institutions, such as public policy, influence and in turn are influenced by these innovation processes. These actors are, as a result, central to global efforts to effectively respond to sustainability challenges.   

While the previous 8 successful ETH Academies on Sustainability and Technology were aimed at PhD students, this year we would like to invite not only PhD students but also postdoctoral researchers and junior faculty. This year’s academy is concerned with technological, organizational and institutional change in the context of sustainability (e.g. energy, climate, water). It provides a unique platform for junior researchers with a background in innovation studies, management, economics or political sciences to present their work to an audience of like-minded scholars and four international faculty with a track record in research on innovation and sustainability. Participants will obtain detailed feedback on their research design, theoretical approaches and methodology. In addition, there will be plenty of room for informal discussions and networking with other junior scholars and professors. Students in previous years have come from, amongst others, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, the University of Michigan, the University of Cambridge, and Oxford University.

Research of the participants should focus on – but is not limited to – the following topics:

  • Technology and innovation strategies of organizations in the context of sustainability
  • Technology and innovation policy for energy, climate or water
  • Role of institutions for technological and organizational change in the context of sustainability
  • Innovation systems and technological change in the context of sustainability
  • Socio-technical or techno-economic assessment of technologies related to sustainability

The ETH Academy on Sustainability and Technology will take place in a hotel in the midst of the Swiss Alps. To guarantee an intensive learning process, attendance is limited to 15 participants. Third-party funding allows us to offer a participation fee of only CHF 400 (ca. 460 USD) which covers accommodation, meals and excursions.

Applications should be sent to Aoife Brophy Haney () and include (i) a cover letter explaining your motivation, (ii) a proposal abstract of max. 2 pages, and (iii) a CV. The deadline for application is March 13, 2016. Notification of acceptance will be given by April 1, 2016. Deadline for full paper submission (10-15 pages) is May 1, 2016. For additional information, please see the previous academies’ programs on our website ( or contact Aoife Brophy Haney. We look forward to receiving your application!

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Jessika Trancik is the Atlantic Richfield Career Development Assistant Professor of Energy Studies at the Institute for Data, Systems and Society (IDSS) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is also an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute. She received her B.S. in materials science and engineering from Cornell University and her Ph.D. in materials science from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Before MIT, she spent several years at the Santa Fe Institute as an Omidyar Fellow, and at Columbia University as an Earth Institute Fellow, where her research focused on energy systems modeling. Her research group studies the dynamic costs and environmental impacts of energy technologies to inform technology design and policy.

Dr. Trancik’s work has been published in journals including Nature Climate Change, Environmental Science and Technology and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Her work also features regularly in the press including outlets such as NPR and Grist. 

Van de Ven

Andrew H. Van de Ven is Vernon H. Heath Professor of Organizational Innovation and Change in the Carlson School of the University of Minnesota and founding editor of Academy of Management Discoveries. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1972, and taught at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania before his present appointment. He teaches courses on the management of innovation and change, organizational behavior, and research methods. 

Van de Ven has been studying changes unfolding in health care organizations and industry. During the 1980s he directed the Minnesota Innovation Research Program in which 30 faculty and doctoral students tracked fourteen different kinds of innovations from concept to implementation. 

In addition to organizational innovation and change, Van de Ven's books and journal articles over the years have dealt with the Nominal Group Technique, organization assessment, inter-organizational relationships, and research methods. He is co-author of 12 books, including: The Innovation Journey (1999, 2008), Organization Change and Innovation Processes (2000), Handbook of Organizational Change and Innovation (2004), and Engaged Scholarship (2007), which won the 2008 Terry best book award from the Academy of Management. During 2000-2001 Van de Ven was President of the Academy of Management.


Desirée Pacheco holds a Ph.D. in Management and Entrepreneurship and an M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico.  Prior to her doctoral studies, Professor Pacheco worked as a management and technology consultant with Accenture.  During this experience she worked with established and start-up companies in defining their strategic direction and implementing new processes and systems.  In addition, Professor Pacheco has experience teaching courses in the areas of strategic management, entrepreneurship, and environmental studies.

Professor Pacheco was recently granted the 2015 Emerging Scholar Award by the Organizations and the Natural Environment (ONE) division of the Academy of Management.  This award is granted to early career academics who have already made outstanding research contributions in the area of organizations and the natural environment, and who appear to have a strong potential to continue making such contributions in the near future.

Dr. Pacheco’s research interests relate to the interface between institutions, entrepreneurship, and firm strategy.  She often applies these areas of research to the study of sustainable business. Her research has been published in the Journal of Business Venturing, Journal of Management, Organization Science, Strategic Management Journal, and The Academy of Management Journal; amongst other publications.  Professor Pacheco is an editorial board member of the Journal of Management and the Journal of Business Venturing.


Volker Hoffmann is full professor for sustainability and technology at the Department of Management, Technology, and Economics of ETH Zurich.

He received a diploma in chemical engineering from ETH Zurich in 1997 and a diploma in business administration from the University of Hagen, Germany, in 1999. In 1996/97 and 1999/2000 he worked as a visiting scholar and scientist at MIT where he investigated uncertainty propagation in large scale process models for the chemical industry (group of Gregory J. McRae). In 2001, he obtained his Ph.D. from ETH Zurich with a thesis on multi-objective decision making under uncertainty in chemical process design (group of Konrad Hungerbühler). Before joining the faculty of ETH Zurich in 2004, he was a project manager at McKinsey & Company where he worked in the chemical and electricity industry. He focused on strategy development for European utility companies, especially in the light of upcoming greenhouse gas regulations. During his career, Volker Hoffmann received several scholarships and awards including a German National Academic Foundation Scholarship (1994-97), an Ernest-Solvay-Scholarship (1996/97), and an Exchange Fellow Scholarship of the Alliance for Global Sustainability (1999/2000).

Volker Hoffmann's research at ETH Zurich centers on corporate strategies with respect to climate change, with a focus on climate policy, energy policy, and innovation. Recent research results are being published in journals such as the Journal of Management Studies, Long Range Planning, the California Management Review, Research Policy, Climate Policy, Energy Policy, Global Environmental Change, the Journal of Industrial Ecology, Policy Sciences, Environmental Science & Policy, Energy Economics, the European Management Journal, Business Strategy & the Environment, Environmental Science & Policy and Ecological Economics.

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