I’m Fredrik Björk, lecturer at the Dept for Urban Studies at Malmö University. Most of my teaching is focused on social innovation and entreprenurship (in our International Master’s Programme “Leadership for Sustainability“) and environmental science.
These are also the fields where I do most of my research, and my main focus is to finish my PhD in Environmental History at Lund University. The topic of my PhD dissertation is “Swedish sugar 1875-1940” – with perspectives from environmental and consumption history.
I am locally engaged in different initiatives – most importantly as a board member of Yalla Trappan, one of the more talked-about social enterprises in Sweden. On the regional scale, I am engaged with the Center for Public Entrepreneurship, a third sector initiative to support civic entrepreneurial initiatives in the region on Skåne.
I think that it is relevant to reconsider how entrepreneurship is discussed and supported, and find ways to facilitate entrepreneurial initiatives that push for social and ecological sustainability, and contribute to the resilience of communities. A few years back, I developed the concept of ‘biosphere entrepreneurship‘ together with Stefan Molnar and Bert-Ola Bergstrand, within the framework of the Lake Vänern Archipelago Biosphere Reserve (part of UNESCO’s ‘Man and the biosphere’ program), in order to investigate an alternative way of thinking about the relationship between entrepreneurship and ecosystem services.
Last year I was part of the team that developed an Agenda for an ecosystem for social innovation in Sweden, an initiative that got backing from VINNOVA, the Swedish governement’s innovation agency. Right now we’re working on different routes to translate the agenda into action.
I’m also interested in questions of how social innovation in measured and valued. I’m on the board of the Social Value Sverige (previously Swedish SROI Network), which is a part of Social Value International and engage practitioners and researchers interested in this field. This fall, I also joined the advisory board for social impact of FISSAC, a Horizon2020-project with a focus on circular economy.
Some months back, I joined the Global Wellbeing Lab, which has been a tremendous experience. An amazing network of people from difference parts of society, and all corners of the world, working with a focus to investigate how leadership and organisations can develop beyond the narrow metrics of GDP. The Lab is a joint initiative by the MIT-based Presencing Institute, led by Otto Scharmer (The guy behind Theory of U); GIZ’s Global leadership academy and the Gross National Happiness Center in Bhutan.
I also find the urban perspective important. Urban conglomerations have become the most important forms of human habitat during the last century – and often highly unsustainable, ecologically as well as socially. At the same time, there are tremendous possibilities. But a problem, I think, is that they are often studied as isolated phenomena, and not in connection with the regions that they are part of. An integrated approach have been suggested by Igor Calzada of Oxford University, with whom I have had the honor of doing some collaboration (here, here and here). The fundament of Calzada’s approach is a “city-region” perspective, which take five socio-technical systems into consideration. A very concrete interest that I have in urban issues, is about urban agriculture, where I have been doing some (mostly historical research) but am also currently involved in a research and development project together with the cCity of Malmö, where we are looking at how the structural and institutional framework could be developed to better facilitate urban agricultural projects (Malmö Växer).
Sometimes when I’m not running projects myself, I have been asked to collaborate with initiatives in the field of urban social innovation through evaluations, which can be just as exciting (but also challenging, since it is so important to provide a critical perspective, even though a project might have the best of intentions). If the critique is constructive, however, this is normally something that is appreciated, and hopefully will lead to even better outcomes for future projects. Two recent evaluations (unfortunately only in Swedish): Tillväxt Malmö and Sofielund Agency.