LT5078 - Sustainability, Business and Responsibility (2023/24)
|Module specification||Module approved to run in 2023/24|
|Module title||Sustainability, Business and Responsibility|
|Module level||Intermediate (05)|
|Credit rating for module||15|
|School||Guildhall School of Business and Law|
|Total study hours||150|
|Running in 2023/24(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)||
This module will address the critical issue of how current thinking on climate change and sustainability will impact on businesses and organisation. The need to create more sustainable organisations and businesses is fundamental to current and future organisational development strategies. It is necessary for students to understand the growing influence of the sustainability agenda on industry. This influence takes on many forms, from government policies and international agreements to the measuring the impacts of organisational practices on the ecology and communities. In the future, organisations, businesses, communities and individuals will be expected to understand and take responsibility for their economic, environmental and social impacts. This module will examine the current and future challenges. It will equip students to deal with the challenge of creating sustainable forms of business that operate within ecological and socio-economic limits.
It will explore the sustainability context, and how business practices will need to evolve to reflect the realities of operating within a globalised trading system that is striving to apply sustainability principles.
The overarching aim of the module is to ensure that students develop a full understanding of what is meant by sustainability, who decides what constitutes sustainability principles and how these principles are applied. It will explore the varied tools and techniques used to apply sustainability principles, by governments, business and communities, and the challenges and conflicts these present. Such appreciation will be developed progressively via more specific aims which are:
- To engage with the growing international debate and practice around sustainability, business and corporate social responsibility (CSR).
- To evaluate how this will challenge organisations and business.
- To examine tools and techniques for evaluating and implementing of sustainability
- To analyse the evolving policy frameworks within which business operates.
- To understand how changing environmental realities may affect business practice.
The module also aims to assist students in the acquisition of the following skills:
1. Academic reading
3. Problem-solving and decision making
4. Critical thinking and writing
5. Application of knowledge and presenting data
6. Academic writing
- Definitions and history of the “Sustainability” concept LO1
- Globalisation; our shrinking world LO1/2
- Climate change and the future LO1/2/3
- Principles and criteria for sustainability: who decides? LO1/2/3
- Measuring sustainability: Challenges and realities LO1/2
- International Policy frameworks and the role of governments LO2/3/4
- CSR and the Industry response to the sustainability challenge LO1/2/3/4
Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity
The module will be delivered through a weekly series of 3-hour sessions which will include lectures and seminar activities. Teaching will have a blended learning approach. Lectures will deliver information and present academic problems appropriate to the topic under consideration. Full use will be made online opportunities including web based multiplayer simulation games. Seminars will provide students with opportunities for discussion and activities in small groups and at whole class level, there will be presentations, short writing exercises and reflection on the topics covered in the lecture of the same week.
Learning materials and opportunities will also be made available on Weblearn (VLE), which will also be an important means of communication between students and between students and tutors, especially via a blog maintained by each student.
Students will be expected to spend approximately 7 hours per week reading and reflecting upon the work covered so far through the module. Progress will be facilitated by weekly group presentations in the second half of the course where students will not only be researching their own topic but will also be of their peers in the seminar.
On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
- Recognise and analyse the complex process of developing sustainable human systems (LO1).
- Demonstrate an understanding of business development within the context of sustainability (LO2).
- Apply analytical tools in order to assess the extent to business have achieved sustainability in a wide range of contexts and situations (LO3).
- Evaluate the relationships between business and economic, socio-cultural and environmental parameters (LO4)
Module assessment comprises of two components.
1. Group Presentation of wiki page (marked but not assessed) – this exercise tests the student’s ability to absorb and articulate key discussions within sustainability. It also supports them to develop group working skills. Students are required to set up an online group wiki page and research a topic addressed in the course.
Ideas and tasks for the wiki will be provided weekly via videos, slides, readings and discussions. Students will be required to work on the wiki throughout the whole semester.
As a group they will present the wiki page to the class and answer questions from their peers. If the presentation mark falls below 40% it will have to be re-presented.
2. Individual case study (2,000 words) – Students are required to analyse and evaluate the responsible business strategies of an appropriate organisation. This organisation will reflect the focus of their undergraduate studies.
- Brundtland Report (1987) Our Common Future: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, United Nations, available at: www.undocuments.net/wced-ocf.htm
- Robertson, M. (2018) Sustainability: Principles and Practice, Earthscan, Abingdon
- Mulligan, M. (2017) An Introduction to Sustainability. Environmental, Social and Personal Perspectives. London: 2nd edition Earthscan
- Weinstein, M.P. et al. (2013) The global sustainability transition: it is more than changing light bulbs. Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy. Volume 9. 1.
- Wright, D. and Meadows, D. (2012). Thinking in Systems. A Primer, Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.
Full reading list can be found on