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COURSE NUMBER: BUSI 365
COURSE TITLE: Business, Society and the Environment
NAME OF INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Elwil Beukes
CREDIT WEIGHT AND WEEKLY TIME DISTRIBUTION: credits 3(hrs lect 3 - hrs sem 0 - hrs lab 0)
COURSE DESCRIPTION: Modern business operates within a complex web of relations with governments (at various levels), the rest of society and the natural environment. These interactions are mediated presently by a set of regulations, laws and voluntary programs with an uncertain (and contested) effect. Increasingly it is realised though, that business is embedded in and cannot exist without sound relations with society and nature. But this realisation is only slowly becoming an essential and integral part of both the internal decision logic of business and of its evolving relations with governments an other stakeholders in society. This course provides an overview of the unfolding an evolution of these relations. It also examines the options for making earthkeeping and sustainable livelihood basic elements of healthy business and its functioning in its broader context. Resources for keeping abreast of this evolving and increasingly relevant field of action for business will be surveyed and evaluated.

Prerequisites: BUSI 200 and 6 credits of ECON 203, 204 or 315
REQUIRED TEXTS:
  • Network for Business Sustainability on the Internet: https://nbs.net/
  • Other Web-based resources
  • Class Handouts (Moodle or in print) 
MARK DISTRIBUTION IN PERCENT:
Assignments/Cases  40%
Class Participation 10%
Midterm Exam 20%
Final Exam 30%
100%
COURSE OBJECTIVES: This course intends to raise the awareness and knowledge of Business students about a world where big corporations play a very (possibly too) powerful role, using rules that are increasingly under severe scrutiny. This comes about through the complicated but unavoidable set of linkages and dependencies between business, the rest of society and the natural environment. The course will provide an overview of the major ways and patterns in which these relations are currently organised and managed. The limits and increasingly problematical aspects of the current situation, both inside and outside Canada, will be reviewed and analysed – the most pressing of which deals with the impact of doing business on the social and physical environment.
Students will be offered a discerning and contemporary overview of the debates around and implications of what is broadly seen as corporate (social) responsibility. The question will be addressed whether what is said and done with regard to CSR, is a significant enough response when seen from a transformationally Christian viewpoint. For this, substantial attention will be given (among others) to the more and less convincing forms of “greening” corporations.
The course will also offer practical examples from Canada and elsewhere of what can be done to assist (and hopefully convince) business corporations to base their core internal decision-making  on the idea of genuine and credible corporate “citizenship”. Students will be encouraged to evaluate the current trends, options and outcomes from a Christian (or other normative) viewpoint and to consider why alternative ways forward are necessary, and how that can be achieved.
Use will be made of lectures, class discussion and debate, as well as case studies. Students will be allowed the opportunity to design and argue for ways of leading and managing a business enterprise in a convincingly responsible way.

The objectives of the course will thus be:
  • Familiarisation with the current form and impact of doing business on the social and physical environment;
  • Familiarisation with some of the main issues and critical reactions that have arisen from the role and wider impact of how business is mostly done;
  • Discussion and evaluation of alternative responses and ideas about (re)-orienting core business decision-making towards greater social and environmental responsibility;
  • Discussion of the main ways in which business-government relations and interactions are structured in Canada and what positive options exist;
  • Analysing case studies of what is said and done in pursuit of corporate responsibility as well as how a genuinely responsible enterprise can work;
  • Identifying main trends and new opportunities for enterprises that want to serve the common good and sustain its environment.
LECTURE SCHEDULE:
  • Jan 4 INTRODUCTION
    • Discussion of the syllabus and the goals of the course
  • Jan 9 A STORY OF RELATIONSHIPS: HOW DO THE ELEMENTS OF OUR SITUATION RELATE?
    • The real purpose of Business
  • Jan 11 THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GOVT AND THE REST OF SOCIETY, INCLUDING BUSINESS
    • Alternative views in North America: Are they the same in Canada and the USA?
    • Corporations, Democracy and the Common Good
  • Jan 16 - 18 THE UNDERLYING VIEW OF THE ROLE OF BUSINESS THAT STILL PREDOMINATES: SHOULD IT BE CHANGED?
    • John Kay – Is good business essentially and unavoidably hard-nosed?
    • Michael Thomas and Bill Veltrop – Internal Transformation of Corporations: The road to conscious capitalism
  • Jan 23 VISITING SPEAKER
  • Jan 30 – Feb 1 MAJOR CHANGES AHEAD FOR THE CORPORATION
    • Gerald Davis – After the Corporation
    • Evolution of the business corporation: The Third Generation Corporation
  • Feb 6 LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE: ARE WE CAPTIVATED BY A WRONG UNDERSTANDING OF ECONOMIC GROWTH?
  • Feb 8 BUSINESS AND SOCIETY IN THE COMING DECADES – THE WALMART POSITION
  • Feb 13 - 15 SIGNS OF NEW THINKING WITHIN THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY AND WIDER: THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY
    • The Idea of a Circular Economy
    • Is the future of business circular?
    • World Economic Forum – Thinking ahead
    • Situation in Canada
  • Feb 27-Mar 1 IS “SUSTAINABILITY” STILL POSSIBLE OR MEANINGFUL?
    • Worldwatch Institute- State of the World 2013
    • The Sustainable economy: What can this be?
  • March 6 THE BUSINESS CASE FOR SUSTAINABILITY: CAN BUSINESS BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY?
    • Interface Carpets
    • Unilever
    • How serious are the challenges?
  • March 8 - 13 SUSTAINABILITY BEGINS AT HOME. HOW CAN WE GET OUR HOUSE IN ORDER?
  • March 15 GUEST SPEAKER
  • March 20 - 22 THE TOP SUSTAINABILITY CHALLENGES FOR CANADIAN BUSINESS
  • March 27 BUSINESS SUSTAINABILITY FOR SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES
  • March 29 SUSTAINABILITY THROUGH PARTNERSHIPS
  • April 3 ENGAGING COMMUNITY STAKEHOLDERS
  • April 5 - 10 EFFECTIVE ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY
  • April 12 RECAP AND SUMMARY


Required texts, assignments, and grade distributions may vary from one offering of this course to the next. Please consult the course instructor for up to date details.

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