84147 - Sustainable Business

Academic Year 2020/2021

Learning outcomes

This course aims at socializing students with how the global world of business is rapidly changing, as a result of new environmental and social concerns and sensitivities. The notion of sustainability is defined at the micro-level, in relation to a new generation of attitudes, strategies and innovations put into place by ethically-minded companies of all kind. The course has the following objectives: 1) To teach students the real “language” of business, under the assumption that in order to understand today’s economy one needs to be able to examine it from the inside; 2) To socialize students with the highly complex and multi-disciplinary challenge of running a global company in the 21st century, with a special focus on the role played by shareholders, stakeholders and society at large 3) To create an open forum for reflection and scientific querying, whereby students and partner companies share their perspectives on the future of capitalism

Course contents

How can business sustainability be defined? Why most companies operating within today’s dominant business paradigm overlook long-term sustainability in the name of short-term profit maximization? What can companies do to become more environmentally friendly? Is a more ethical and humane way of doing business emerging from the current crisis of capitalism?

This course provides a multi-disciplinary perspective into the future evolution of business, according to what can be already observed in the present. Students will directly interact with companies at the forefront of sustainability, learning to adopt both a scientific and a pragmatic outlook on them. The course explores such topics as circular economy, biomimicry and frugal innovation, "slow" management, responsible sourcing, B-Corporations, integrated reporting.


We will read and comment scientific papers, articles from major economic magazines, and publicly available company materials. Students will reflect on the different challenges and opportunities associated to business sustainability, paying attention to the assumptions under which different stakeholders operate.

Teaching methods

Ten class sessions (3 hours each) will cover the following activities:
- frontal lectures, supported by slides and videos
- class debates, on specific topics or previously assigned papers
- conversations with guest speakers from innovative companies
- a company visit to directly experience the reality of a sustainability-oriented enterprise

Assessment methods

Students' evaluation will be anchored to class participation. Each student will be asked to keep a course learning journal, to be discussed in a final one-to-one conversation with the teacher.

Students not attending class activities will be allowed to take the exam, provided that they have indipendently revised all class materials, all foundational readings, and a majority of recommended readings (all inputs will have to be commented in the class journal).

Office hours

See the website of Filippo Dal Fiore


Quality education Decent work and economic growth Industry, innovation and infrastructure Partnerships for the goals

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.