1.0 Module overview and an introduction to Sustainability


1.1 Introduction

There is growing recognition across business that the reductionist ‘mind set’ founded on unlimited economic growth impervious to the social and environmental impacts of commercial activities will not resolve the converging environmental, social and economic crises now faced by the global community. Ever greater numbers of Boards and CEOs are grappling with a notion of sustainability and attempting to define precisely what it means for their business.

The primary aim of this unit is to capture this transition and define what businesses are doing to adopt a more sustainable approach. Looking at a number of case studies, the unit will attempt to demonstrate how individual businesses are attempting to align their activities to address global sustainability challenges such as climate change and carbon reduction, energy and water scarcity and poverty reduction.

The module is divided into ten sessions. After an initial introduction to sustainability and sustainable development and an investigation into the changing role of business in the 21st century, the module attempts to analyse corporate sustainability from the perspective of a variety of stakeholders – customers, suppliers, investors, employees, the natural environment and the broader community and civil society. Session 8 investigates how business measures and communicates sustainability activities to these stakeholders, whilst session 9 looks at number of case studies from across the broad corporate spectrum. The final session reviews the module and provides an activity to assess learning.

The module structure is as follows:

Session 1 – Module overview and an introduction to Sustainability

Session 2 – Sustainability and the Evolving Role of Business

Session 3 – Sustainability in the Marketplace I (Customers & Products)

Session 4 – Sustainability in the Marketplace II (Suppliers & Investors)

Session 5 - Sustainability in the Workplace

Session 6 –Sustainability and the Natural Environment

Session 7 –Sustainability and Society

Session 8 – Measuring & Communicating Sustainability

Session 9 – Case studies in Sustainability

Session 10 – Module Review and Assessment

It is impossible to cover all aspects of sustainability in this relatively brief module. By integrating a high degree of interactive learning and investigation, it is hoped to broaden the potential of the module and allow students to pursue their own investigation of the topic. The final assessment task is to create a sustainability strategy for a business of your choosing in a poster format for presentation to a faux board.