Managing Sustainability Transformations
PASS / NO CREDIT
Yes (may vary by section)
This course is centrally concerned with to create companies that contribute to sustainability while generating economic value in competitive markets. It is based on three premises: First, that sustainability for most companies is no longer just a matter of compliance or social responsibility but is becoming a material imperative for the future viability of the business. This is because sustainability-related natural resource dynamics, regulatory changes, shifts in consumer and investor preferences, and technological innovation are driving disruptive change and transformations in many industries, including energy, mobility, real estate, food and financial services. The second premise is that 'real' sustainability is still difficult and that standard ways of approaching business decisions fall short on delivering effective solutions to issues like climate change or environmental justice. While win-win-win scenarios between economic prosperity, environmental quality, and social equity do exist, they are neither easy to recognize nor easy to execute, unless we integrate sustainability into management and decision processes. The third and last premise is that the key challenge for most companies is executing a strategy for changing their processes, products and business models while maintaining a high level of financial performance. For example, how should a CPG company achieve carbon neutrality targets and eliminate plastic waste? What are entrepreneurial opportunities in plant based meat substitution? How can an airline or property developer decarbonize their business? The course introduces a set of advanced practices and frameworks for holistically integrating sustainability into business decisions. This means on the one hand, learning the fundamental principles of sustainability and how they relate to economic value creation, identifying drivers and impediments for making sustainability material to value creation, and charting different pathways for effective sustainability transformations. It means on the other hand learning to use key tools for assessing in a systematic way the environmental and social impacts of existing business models. The course provides a thorough foundation for students that seek to specialize in sustainability in their work, and for students that need a holistic overview that allows them to integrate sustainability in a non-specialist role. The pedagogical format combines the introduction of conceptual frameworks, experiential exercises, case analyses and guest speakers.