BSEO 2578: Sustainable Business Strategy

BSEO 2578 – Sustainable Business Strategy – 1.5 credits

CB Bhattacharya, H. J. Zoffer Chair in Sustainability and Ethics (cb@pitt.edu)

This course is designed to enhance students’ ability to understand current challenges and opportunities in sustainability and corporate responsibility (CR) worldwide. Sustainability is of great interest to multiple stakeholders including customers, employees, investors, regulators and activists. Much of the recent attention to sustainability is attributable to its “business case” or the notion that when done right, sustainability initiatives can not only affect positive social or environmental change but also contribute to competitive advantage, reputational gains, etc., and overall to a company’s bottom line in the process. Although this kind of “triple bottom line” thinking is powerful and would benefit both businesses and society immensely, achieving this symbiotic relationship between business, society and the environment requires a strategic understanding of when, why and how sustainability initiatives create value. This course provides students with the requisite knowledge to emerge as leaders who will leverage the power of business to create social and environmental value. The course blends theory and practice in a way that emphasizes both critical thinking and experiential learning. This is accomplished through multiple components. First, through case studies and articles, students are exposed to theories and principles that can be applied to formulate, implement and evaluate sustainability initiatives through the entire value chain – from procurement to disposal. Second, this course utilizes experiential learning via a series of projects and mini-workshops where students analyze the sustainability performance of companies to discover firsthand the mechanisms by which sustainability initiatives yield both business and social returns.