The ESG Initiative at the Wharton School


Explore 10 ESG Courses at Wharton for Fall Semester 2024

Deepen your knowledge, expand your toolkit, and power your impact this fall. Explore ten of the many ESG-related courses available to Penn and Wharton students in the upcoming semester. These listings are subject to change. Please review MyWharton for additional courses, as well as up-to-date section information, class times, and registration info.

BEPP 2010 Public Finance and Policy

This course explores the economics and politics of public policy to provide an analytic framework for considering why, how, and with what success/failure government intervenes in a variety of policy areas. Particular attention will be paid to important policy issues relating to taxation, social security, low-income assistance, health insurance, education (both K-12 and higher ed), the environment, and government deficits. The costs and benefits of alternative policies will be explored along with the distribution of responsibilities between the federal, state and local governments. While the course will focus primarily on U.S. policies, the topics covered (e.g. tax reform, deficits versus austerity, etc.) are currently at the center of the policy debate in many other industrialized countries as well.

1 Course Unit

Monday/Wednesday 1:45-3:15 pm or 3:30-5:00 pm
Prof. Alexander Rees-Jones

BEPP/FNCE 2300 Urban Fiscal Policy

This course will examine the provision of public services for firms and people through cities. Why cities exist, when fiscal policy fails, investments in infrastructure, realities of local governments such as inequality, crime, corruption, high cost of living, congestion, and unfunded pensions and debt, will be covered. We will pay special attention to recent topics, such as partnerships with the private sector, enterprise zones, the role of technology, environmental challenges, and real estate policies that promote housing affordability, such as rent control and inclusionary zoning

1 Course Unit

Monday/Wednesday 10:15-11:45 am
Prof. Fernando Ferreira

LGST 2150 Environmental Management: Law & Policy

This course provides an introduction to environmental management by focusing on foundational concepts of environmental law and policy and how they affect business decisions. The primary aim of the course is to give students a deeper practical sense of the important relationship between business and the natural environment, the existing legal and policy framework of environmental protection, and how business managers can think about managing their relationship with both the environment and the law.

1 Course Unit

Tuesday/Thursday 8:30-10:00 am
Prof. Sarah E. Light

LGST/OIDD 7620 Environmental Sustainability and Value Creation

This course provides an overview of topics related to corporate sustainability with a focus on how environmentally sustainable approaches can create value for the firm. The course explores trends in corporate practices and students consider specific examples of such practices to examine the interactions between the firm and the environment.

This course has three objectives:

  1. To increase students’ knowledge of sustainability practices and their impact on firm performance
  2. To teach students to think strategically and act entrepreneurially on environmental issues
  3. To help students design business approaches to improve environmental outcomes, while simultaneously creating value

0.5 Course Units

August 26-October 8, Mondays 3:30-6:30 pm
Prof. Gary Survis

MGMT 2120/8120 Social Entrepreneurship

This is a course on creating a business to attack a social problem and thereby accomplish both social impact and financial sustainability. For this course, social entrepreneurship is defined as entrepreneurship used to profitably confront social problems. This definition therefore views social entrepreneurship as a distinct alternative to public sector initiatives. The basic thesis is that many social problems, if looked at through an entrepreneurial lens, create opportunity for someone to launch a venture that generates profits by alleviating that social problem. This sets in motion a virtuous cycle – the entrepreneur is incented to generate more profits and in so doing, the more the profits made, the more the problem is alleviated. Even if it is not possible to eventually create a profit-making enterprise, the process of striving to do so can lead to a resource-lean not-for-profit entity. Creating a profitable social entrepreneurship venture is by no means a simple challenge.

0.5 Course Units

Monday/Wednesday 3:30-5:00 pm
Prof. Valentina Assenova

MGMT 2240/6240 Leading Diversity in Organizations

People in the workplace are constantly interacting with peers, managers, and customers with very different backgrounds and experiences. When harnessed effectively, these differences can be the catalyst for creative breakthroughs and the pathway to team and organizational learning and effectiveness; but when misunderstood, these differences can challenge employees’ values, performance, workplace relationships, and team effectiveness. This course is designed to help students navigate diverse organizational settings more effectively and improve their ability to work within and lead diverse teams and organizations. It also offers students the opportunity to develop their critical thinking on topics such as identity, relationships across difference, discrimination and bias, equality, and equity in organizations and society and how they relate to organizational issues of power, privilege, opportunity, inclusion, creativity and innovation and organizational effectiveness. Class sessions will be experiential and discussion-based. Readings, self-reflection, guest speakers from organizations, case studies and a final project will also be emphasized.

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Evaluate the aspects of your identity and personal experiences that shape how you interact and engage with others and how they interact and engage with you in organizations
  2. Explain how issues of power, privilege, discrimination, bias, equality, and equity influence opportunity and effectiveness in organizations
  3. Propose ways to make relationships across difference in organizations more effective
  4. Describe current perspectives on the relationships among diversity, inclusion, creativity, and innovation in organizations
  5. Analyze a company’s current approach to leading diversity and use content from this course to propose ways to enhance learning and effectiveness in that company.

0.5 Course Units

MGMT 2240
October 17-December 9, Monday/Wednesday 12:00-1:30 pm
Prof. Stephanie Creary

MGMT 6240
October 21-December 4, Monday/Wednesday 1:45-3:15 pm
Prof. Stephanie Creary

MGMT 4010 Growing Social Impact

This course seeks to address a gap at the core of contemporary entrepreneurship: despite a growing desire to pursue prosocial goals and affect positive change in the world, most founders have little understanding of how to measure, manage, and scale their impact. This creates the risk that financial goals will play an outsized role in decision-making, particularly as the venture scales, leading founders to drift away from social impact aims – or to pursue goals that fail to deliver on their intended impacts. This course fulfils the Wharton capstone requirement with a hands-on approach to addressing these issues.

Students will work hand-in-hand with the founding teams of pre-selected startups from the Wharton venture community to develop a strategy for measuring social impact, and ensuring fidelity to social goals as the venture goes to market and begins to scale. Projects will be group-based, and will ask students to integrate learnings on social enterprise, impact measurement, and impact investing, with prior coursework on entrepreneurship, social impact, business ethics, leadership, team dynamics, and venture finance.

Students will leave the class with a deeper appreciation of the potential for business to be a force for good in the world, and the difficulties that this can pose during the founding and growth stages of a new business. The class will be of value to students who are interested in creating socially impactful businesses, as well as to those who want to work in the ecosystem that supports such ventures (e.g., consulting, or impact investing).

Prerequisites: MGMT 1010 and WH 1010 and WH 2010 and MGMT 3010
0.5 Course Units

August 27-October 16, Tuesday/Thursday 10:15-11:45 am
Prof. Tyler Wry

MGMT 7230 Strategy & Environmental Sustainability

Environmental sustainability issues are one of the defining problems of our time. While governments and NGOs will have to play important roles, without active involvement of businesses it will be impossible to make sufficient progress on these issues. Globalization and Digitization have been two major disruptive developments that organizations have faced (and are still facing). ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) issues are the latest large-scale development that will shape companies’ futures.

This course will focus on the “E” of ESG. As with any large change, environmental sustainability poses significant business challenges but also tremendous opportunities. We will study these issues both from the perspective of incumbent firms that have to adapt their business practices and from firms (incumbents and new start-ups) that will take advantage of the new opportunities that are being created.

0.5 Course Units

Monday/Wednesday 1:45-3:15pm or 3:30-5:00pm
Prof. Nicolaj Siggelkow

MGMT 8710 Advanced Global Strategy

This class is designed to develop world class, globally-minded managers. Many of the most important business issues of today are global in nature. Both “macro” phenomena (e.g. nationalism, protectionism, demographic change) and “micro” trends (e.g. competition within and from emerging markets, distributed talent and innovation, digitization and automation) are inherently international issues. They require firms and managers to think, innovate, and organize globally.

This class offers a comprehensive set of tools to evaluate opportunities and challenges in global markets, to leverage cross-country differences to enhance innovation and performance, to manage the complexities of a business spread across multiple countries, and to win against foreign rivals. The course will focus on both the formulation and execution of global strategy, with a heavy emphasis on current events and hands on activities.

Sample topics include: quantifying opportunities and risks of foreign investments; formulating and executing strategies that balance local responsiveness, global efficiency, and innovation; exploiting differences across countries to enhance innovation while protecting intellectual property; managing organizational structure, culture, and people in multinational organizations; structuring and managing cross-national and cross-cultural teams; developing a global mindset among managers and employees.

This course builds on the global management portion of MGMT 6110 or MGMT 6120, but taking those classes is not a prerequisite for MGMT 8710.

0.5 Course Units

October 21-December 4, Monday/Wednesday 10:15-11:45 am
Prof. Exequiel Hernandez

OIDD 5250 Thinking with Models: Business Analytics for Energy and Sustainability

Models are lenses. They are instruments with which we view, interpret, and give meaning to data. In this course, students will be exposed to and do work in all phases of the modeling life-cycle, including model design and specification, model construction (including data gathering and testing), extraction of information from models during post-solution analysis, and creation of studies that use modeling results to support conclusions for scientific or decision making purposes. In addition, the course will cover critical assessments of fielded models and studies using them.

The course will focus broadly on models pertaining to energy and sustainability. This is not only an inherently interesting and important area, but it is very much a public one. In consequence, models, data, and studies using them are publicly and profusely available, as is excellent journalism, which facilitates introductions to specific topics.

The course covers selected topics in energy and sustainability. Essential background will be presented as needed, but the course is not a comprehensive overview of energy and sustainability. Modeling in the area of energy and sustainability analytics is rife with uncertainty, and yet decisions must be made. Uncertainty, and how to deal with it in model-based decision making, is an overarching theme of the course. We will focus on energy and sustainability, but that area is hardly unique in being beset with deep and vexing uncertainties. The lessons we learn will generalize. The overall aim of the course is to teach facility with modeling and to use real-world data, models, and studies in doing so. In addition, students with interests in investment or policy analysis in the energy sphere will find the course’s subject area focus useful.

OIDD 3250 is not a prerequisite for this course, but it’s helpful if you have already taken it.

1 Course Unit

Tuesday/Thursday, 3:30-5:00 pm
Prof. Steven Kimbrough

Co-Curricular Offerings

We offer a robust set of transformational student programs and resources to match your interests in ESG and business. Our semester and year-long experiential learning programs equip students with hands-on experience in consulting, portfolio construction, impact and ESG investing, and more. For students who wish for a less intensive time commitment, we offer additional opportunities to participate and learn.