Transformational Business

Instructor: Wayne Visser

Our rapidly globalizing world faces many urgent and serious challenges – economic challenges like financial crises and jobless growth, social challenges like persistent poverty and growing inequality, environmental challenges like climate change and biodiversity loss, and ethical challenges like corruption and human rights abuses. However, we are also presented with many opportunities – new technologies that connect and empower us, new institutions that work across boundaries, new leaders that have a vision for a more inclusive, sustainable future, and new generations that believe a better world is possible. Business beats at the heart of these challenges and opportunities. It is the one institution that is big enough and greedy enough to cause harm to people and damage to planet on a global scale, and yet is also international enough and innovative enough to create and deploy solutions that can improve our lives immeasurably, while also securing nature’s resources for the future. This course will explore these questions by looking at the need for transformation in the world – the trends and drivers that are shaping our economies and societies – and the positive role that business can play in avoiding a global breakdown and creating an urgent breakthrough in the quest for more responsible, sustainable and purposeful capitalism.

Course Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course students should be able to:

  1. Reflect critically on the role of business in society and its impact on people and the environment.
  2. Assess the sustainability and responsibility of companies’ products and practices.
  3. Analyze public disclosures of sustainability and responsibility performance.
  4. Identify key corporate social and environmental codes and standards and understand a range of tools to advance corporate sustainability and responsibility (CSR).
  5. Recognize that the legacy of ‘business as usual’, with its short-term myopic focus on shareholders and profits, no longer serves the world we live in and understand the emergence of ‘business as inspiration’, including students’ own potential as future leaders and change agents.
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