The ESG Initiative at the Wharton School


Wharton ESG Initiative Fall 2023 Course Spotlight

The Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Initiative at the Wharton School is excited to highlight ten of the many ESG related courses to be offered in the fall semester at the University of Pennsylvania. 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.

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.

LGST 4010: Global Social Impact
This undergraduate capstone course, sponsored by the Legal Studies and Business Ethics Department, is a 7-week, .5 cu class designed to give Wharton seniors the chance to connect academic theory with complex real-world issues arising within the context of award-winning social enterprise projects identified by the World Bank’s “Ideas for Action Initiative.” The course by the Legal Studies and Business Ethics Department is jointly sponsored by the World Bank and Wharton’s Zicklin Center for Governance and Business Ethics. The aim of the course is to integrate and strengthen students’ academic skills by applying them in cross-functional ways to the production of real-world consulting reports for project founders. The course will also require students to grapple with current ethical and legal challenges that business organizations face, such as defining the purpose of a business, determining how to incorporate global standards like the Sustainable Development Goals or other Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards into a business plan, and designing mechanisms to promote ethical behavior and combat such systemic challenges as corruption.

LGST 6130: Business, Social Responsibility, and the Environment
This half-credit (.5 cu) course presents students with the opportunity to explore an alternative perspective to what some might consider the traditional or standard model of business. A starting point of the course is to ask whether business firms owe a social responsibility that includes, but goes beyond, maximizing profits. The course begins with overarching questions including to whom a business firm owes legal and ethical duties, how to balance or trade-off obligations owed to different stakeholders when they may conflict, and how to consider the distributional and other socially important implications of business decisions. Different sections of this course will examine questions about the responsibility of business toward a number of pressing environmental issues, including for example, climate change, fresh water availability, and green marketing claims, among others. These topics will be treated primarily through the lenses of law and ethics. Please consult individual instructors’ syllabi in the Wharton syllabus repository for further details on what will be covered in each individual section, and please note that topics may change over time. Students should expect to prepare and present in groups to colleagues in classes on selected issues of business responsibility. This course fulfills the MBA Flex Core requirement in Legal Studies and Business Ethics.

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 yo ur 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.

MGMT 2410: Knowledge for Social Impact: Analyzing Current Issues & Approaches
Recent technological changes have raised awareness of the magnitude and devastating long-term effects of poverty, food insecurity, limited and unequal access to education, and other social issues. Coupled with growing awareness of these issues is the emerging sense that traditional government programs and charities may be unable to solve these problems – at least, not alone. What may be needed are new strategies – strategies borne of (a) a deep understanding of the issues; (b) interdisciplinary collaboration; and (c) access to business knowledge, frameworks, and resources. This course is designed to provide the information, strategies, examples, and analytical mindset to make students more rigorous, insightful, and effective in analyzing social ills and crafting potential solutions. Together, a cross-disciplinary group of undergraduate students, including students in Wharton, the College, and other Penn Schools, will examine the nature and extent of two pressing social problems – food insecurity and barriers to post-secondary education – and current approaches to solving these problems.

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. MGMT 401 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).

MGMT 7230X: Strategy and Environmental Sustainability
This course focuses on the “E” of ESG. As with any large change, environmental sustainability poses significant business challenges but also tremendous opportunities. We 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.

MGMT 8120: Social Entrepreneurship
Social entrepreneurship – new venture creation that profitably confronts social problems such as poverty and inequality, lack of access to healthcare and education, and climate change – has attracted considerable interest among individuals and organizations as a way of creating lasting and positive social impact. The tenet of this approach is that many complex social problems, when viewed through an entrepreneurial lens, can create opportunities to launch new ventures and organizations that address these problems in a profitable, sustainable, and scalable way. Social entrepreneurs aspire to solve some of today’s most pressing challenges in both developed and developing economies by applying entrepreneurial thinking to create innovative products and services that deliver social and economic value. The process of addressing critical social challenges such as poverty, inequality, and environmental change through entrepreneurship can lead founders to create resource-lean not-for-profit and hybrid organizations pursuing both profit and social motives. Solving complex challenges through social entrepreneurship involves deeply understanding how to balance an organization’s social mission with its profitability, analyzing and engaging with multiple stakeholders, including international organizations, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), sourcing capital from donors and investors, measuring impact, and scaling operations. This course draws on case studies of hybrid, for-profit, and mission-driven organizations that have effectively navigated these challenges and enables students to gain hands-on experience with developing social venture plans within teams.

MGMT 8170: Global Growth of Emerging Firms
Emerging firms are a critical element of economic growth, and a key source of gains in innovation and social welfare. This course is designed to depart from the U.S.-centric conversation on startups – with its outsized focus on Silicon Valley – and train a critical eye on some of the unique innovations emerging from new regional hotspots across the globe, with a particular focus on developing and emerging economies. We will discuss the challenges faced by founders in different global contexts, the components of a robust institutional ecosystem, and the ways in which creative solutions may flourish in response to local problems. Along the way, students will gain a virtual view into global startup communities, and personalized insights from firm founders operating around the world – from Bogota to Nairobi to Jakarta. The course will be structured in three primary parts. The first and longest section will discuss the Key Challenges for emerging firm growth across the globe, such as access to talent and resources, political risk, and legal institutions. The second section will highlight particularly active areas of Context-Driven Innovation that are thriving in various regions, such as financial technology, mobile health products, and clean energy. The final section will train Regional Spotlights on different geographic areas in turn, so that we may focus on the challenges and opportunities specific to various parts of the world. This course is relevant to both U.S. and non-U.S. students, and it is expected that students will bring their own backgrounds and experiences to contribute to lively class discussions. The course will culminate with a group project done in teams of four, in which groups will give short presentations to the class.

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 611 or MGMT 612, but taking those classes is not a prerequisite for MGMT 871.