It is strongly recommended to successfully pass the exams of Business Ethics before attending this course.
Sustainability is most commonly defined as meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (Brundtland Report, 1987). It is characterized by three overarching concerns: maintaining ecological and environmental health; creating economic welfare; and ensuring social justice.
This module (Governing Sustainability) is part of a 12 CFU course on Sustainability Accounting and Governing Sustainability. The full course (12 CFU) focuses not only on the material requirements for sustainability, but also on the social, political, cultural and economic dynamics shaping it.
It will be proposed a holistic approach to sustainable development, which encompasses societal (macro-level), organisational (meso), and individual (micro) levels and in which the human being is the starting and the ending point. The role of accounting and control mechanisms and techniques will be also studied and investigated (specifically in module 1 – Sustainability Accounting) with regard to the embedding of sustainability-related issues in several social domains.
Specifically, Module 1 – Sustainability Accounting introduces students to the theory, principles, practices and accounting and control techniques of sustainability. While Module 2 – Governing Sustainability offers a contribution to our understanding of the interconnectedness of the personal, organizational and societal level for the achievement of sustainability in economic activities. This interconnectedness is visualised in the Three Levels of Sustainability (TLS) framework developed by Cavagnaro and Curiel (2012). The TLS framework conveys that:
1. Sustainability plays a role in three distinct and interrelated levels, i.e. society; organisations and individuals;
2. Sustainability starts from the individual level and is an inside-out process;
3. Sustainability is not an end in itself but a middle to achieve a better quality of life for this and future generations.
Upon successful module completion, students will acquire the following skills.
Knowledge and Understanding:
- Understand sustainability as a multidimensional and multilevel concept and be able to evaluate the role of the companies and single individuals in achieving a more sustainable society.
- Enrich the knowledge of business administration with specific reference to the role and contribution of business for sustainability
- Think critically
- Ability to evaluate complex challenges from different perspectives
- Sensitivity to diversity in people and different situations and the ability to continue to learn through reflection on practice and experience
- Ability to apply tools such as a stakeholders’ analysis to address sustainability challenges
Module 2 - Governing Sustainability discusses the following topics.
1. Introduction to the concept of Governing Sustainability and Sustainable Development
To introduce the concepts of sustainability and sustainable development and their evolution over time.
To assess the role of governance for sustainability
2. Governing and Governance for Sustainability
To clarify the concepts of government, governance, governing and governmentality
3. The Three Levels of Sustainability
To understand sustainability as a multidimensional (social, environmental and economic dimensions) and multilevel (society, organizations and individual) concept and be able to evaluate the role of the companies and single individuals in achieving a more sustainable society.
4. Case Study analysis and stakeholder meeting simulation
To work with a real case study on sustainability.
To apply stakeholder theory and recognize sustainability complexity on a real case.
To understand the role of different stakeholders on reaching complex decisions.
5. Networks and social connection approach to responsibility
To introduce the complexity of the current economic and production systems; to present sustainability issues and related responsibilities as “interconnected”.
6. Sustainable Responsible Investments:
To understand the role of finance and investors to foster sustainability
To show how different actors can work together towards sustainability.
To analyse the importance of external stakeholders to push companies towards more sustainable behaviours.
7. Case studies analysis of Governing Sustainability in different business settings.
To present good practices of companies engaged in sustainability-related issues and sustainability governance.
The module draws upon traditional teaching and learning strategies in terms of lectures and seminars, coupled with self-directed study. During the lectures it will be required to students to engage in dialogue and exchanges of views on different topics. The directed study component is designed to enhance the taught and post taught input. Students could be required to engage with directed study reading before the module begins to support the lectures’ and seminars’ content. Students will be asked to prepare and discuss on specific case studies.
The course is assessed by means of a written exam, which will focus on the theoretical and practical aspects of governing sustainability. In particular, the exam consists of open ended and/or essay-type questions.
Each answer will be graded with a score from 0 to 30 and the final grade will be the average of the grades.
Each student needs to achieve a mark of 18/30 or above. Any mark below 18 will be considered as a ‘fail’ and students will be required to retake the exam.
Clearness, synthesis, consistency and critical judgment will be given particular merit.
During the course case study analysis and/or specific assignments could be given to students. Students can choose to be evaluated on these assignments as a part of the final grade. In this case, they will be asked to answer only part of the exam. More information will be provided during the course.
Students with the exam of 12 CFU need to achieve a mark of 18/30 or above in every module to obtain a ‘pass’ grade in the assessment
Midterm exams are scheduled after completions of Module 1 - Sustainability Accountability.
Course handouts and teaching materials will be available on the elearning platform (Moodle space).
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Changes with respect to what stated in the syllabus could be introduced if the course will be taught online or partly online.