The ESG Initiative at the Wharton School


Wharton ESG Initiative Spring 2023 Course Spotlight

The Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Initiative at the Wharton School is excited to welcome our students back for the spring semester. As demand for ESG related courses continues to grow at the MBA and undergraduate levels, we are expanding our broad and multifaceted curriculum to deepen our students’ knowledge, expand their toolkit, and power their impact. Among the many ESG related courses being offered this semester at the University of Pennsylvania, we’ve highlighted five below.

LGST 2600: Climate & Environmental Leadership in Action: Building a Sustainable Future
This course aims to engage undergraduate students at Wharton with fundamental questions at the intersection of climate change, environmental management, ethics, and leadership. Questions we will address include: (1) What can we learn about leadership from being in “the environment” or “the field” that we cannot as easily learn in other settings? (2) What does it mean to be a leader in the area of climate change and environmental management at a for-profit business firm? A non-profit organization? A social enterprise/benefit corporation? Within this overarching theme of environmental and climate leadership, the course examines a set of timely topics through readings, discussions, guest speakers, and written assignments, including: environmental management and a circular economy; product stewardship; extended producer responsibility; environmental personhood; and greenwashing. The course begins with six classroom sessions. The culminating event of the course is a weeklong Leadership Venture – a camping expedition during spring break that will include a combination of cycling, paddling, hiking and discussions about leadership and the environment.

MGMT 2090/7200: Political and Social Environment of the Multinational Firm / Corporate Diplomacy
The financial significance of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors and stakeholder opinions of the acceptability of a firm’s operations (i.e., the social license to operate) is mounting yet the data, frameworks and tools informing investors, consultants and corporates is unreliable. The course provides students novel data, frameworks and tools than can guide the alignment of stakeholder opinions on ESG factors, valuation and strategy.

MGMT 2410: Knowledge for Social Impact – Leading for Impact
Inequality. Poverty. Racism. Climate change. And so much more. The list of societal challenges in the United States and around the globe is daunting.  Like many other students, you may hope to make a positive difference in the world.  But, where and how? This course is designed to help you begin to answer this question. We will meet with for-profit and nonprofit leaders working to make a difference, drawing lessons from their successes, failures, evolution, and resilience. We will read and discuss rigorous social science research that ensures that we move from hunches to facts, from simplistic and ineffective solutions to systems knowledge. We will investigate impact measurement strategies, asking “What is feasible and beneficial to monitor and measure, and why?”  And, we will take a deep dive into two of the complex societal challenges facing the US States today: (1) barriers to college access, completion, and post-college employment; and (2) barriers to employment following incarceration.  In the Spring 2023 semester, we will meet with leaders from The Rockefeller Foundation, First Book, 60 Decibels, the College Board, the Vera Institute, Noodle, UpTrust, and more.  Open to students across Wharton and Penn, this is a highly interactive course designed to drive knowledge, awareness, discussion and ultimately action to address some of the greatest societal challenges of our time.

MGMT 2750/8750: Comparative Capitalism
While we often debate capitalism as a system, the nature of capitalist economies differ from country to country and rarely match up to the ideal. Why do these differences arise? Is there a pure form of capitalism? What is the nature of capitalism in advanced and emerging economies? Why are capitalist economies often embedded in other social systems? Why do some economies grow faster than others? How do international institutions and interdependencies affect national capitalist institutions? How are the strategies of multinational corporations (MNCs) influenced by their country of origin? And how is the nature of capitalism changing today? This course provides insight into these questions as it explores the nature of capitalism around the world, with specific reference to Brazil, Russia, Ukraine, China, Hungary, Nigeria, South Africa, Singapore, Israel, Argentina, and the advanced OECD countries. Students will leave this class with understanding key differences in how capitalist economies are organized and competition over the future of the world economy.

NPLD 7880001: Social Impact Entrepreneurship Meets Mass Incarceration
This in-person Academically Based Community Service (ABCS) class will offer a group of previously incarcerated people intensive training on opening and running a new business. Students from SP2, Wharton and Penn Law will work with returning citizens on teams throughout the semester which will learn to craft a viable business plan while also learning to recognize and overcome barriers to successful reintegration frequently encountered by formerly incarcerated individuals. In the final meeting, the teams will make pitches to a panel of judges who intend to provide further support and training for promising proposals.