PhD Workshop at Copenhagen Business School

Humanistic Approaches to Societal and Global Challenges – HYBRID


Course coordinator: Professor Christina Lubinski, Department of Business Humanities and Law, CBS

Associate professor Marta Gasparin, Department of Business Humanities and Law, CBS

Professor Dan Wadhwani, Department of Business Humanities and Law, CBS

Professor Mitchell Dean, Department of Business Humanities and Law, CBS

Associate professor Maribel Blasco, Department of Management, Society and Communication, CBS

Professor Silviya Svejenova, Department of Organization, CBS


The course discusses humanistic approaches to the study of societal and global challenges. It introduces PhD students to the emerging field of “Business Humanities” and provides them a space to discuss the potential and challenges of integrating social sciences and humanities in their projects. Business Humanities has a notable two-fold character. On the one hand, it defines a domain of knowledge concerning the major challenges facing humanity that affect both business and the wider society. On the other hand, it focuses on understanding the human capabilities to meet these challenges. Grounded in theories of organization studies, entrepreneurship scholarship, history, and political science, the course will discuss different theoretical perspectives that can broadly be summarized as humanistic approaches to the study of business and organizing.

The course focuses on developing students’ understanding of how the humanities and interdisciplinary social sciences address fundamental challenges to humanity. It sees business and forms of organizing as key to social transformation and explores which ethical and entrepreneurial capabilities help address these fundamental challenges. In that process, the course considers organizational actors as diverse as management teams, projects, formal organizations, start-ups, public institutions, crowds and different fluid and ephemeral forms of organizing for analysis.

Participants of the PhD course discuss the ongoing academic debates about theorizing at the intersection of social science and humanities (Zald, 1993, 1996; Ricoeur, 2016). They explore and contrast different disciplinary traditions with an interest in the human and questions of temporality (Wadhwani et al., 2018; Hernes, 2022), morality (Howard-Grenville and Spengler, 2022; Stjerne et al., 2022) and value (Boltanski and Thévenot, 2006; Dewey, 1939; Escobar, 2018). They learn how narratives and histories are brought into the present to actively shape actors’ understandings of themselves, their culture, meaning-making processes, and place in the world (Ricoeur, 2003, 2006; Wadhwani et al., 2018; Suddaby et al., forthcoming-a). Debating the strengths and weaknesses of humanistic theories and their potential contributions to the study of business and organizing may give inspiration to PhD students for their own project designs. In the idea paper (to be developed before the course starts) and the working paper (due after the end of the course) faculty members will develop and critique arguments with the students that are relevant to their projects. 

We invite PhD students with research projects that relate to the role of the human and humanistic thinking in business and organization, be it that these perspectives figure as an underlying dimension of the project design, are directly employed as theoretical approach, relate to the methods applied, or come up in the empirical data. Projects on entrepreneurship, social innovation, grand challenges, identity, narratives, work-life balance and human-based forms of organizing often pay implicit or explicit attention to humanistic theories and the course is designed to helps students be more assertive about their treatment of the business humanities and leverage the most recent scholarship on these issues.


PhD students only.

Participants will submit a paper idea (2 pages) before starting the course. They then develop the idea into a working paper (20 pages), using theory rooted in the business humanities, including those discussed in the course. Each student will be responsible for one “intervention” (critical reading and introduction of a text to the group). Assignment of texts to be determined on the first day.

For “intervention”, course participation and submission of both the idea and working  paper a total of 5 ECTS will be awarded.

Deadline for submission of the paper idea is the 4th of September 2023.
Deadline for submission of the working paper is the 4th of December 2023.

It is a precondition for receiving the course diploma that students attend the whole course and submit both papers by the respective deadlines.