2010-11 Catalog

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Offering Description

Creating Sustainable Businesses in the 21st Century

Spring quarter

Faculty: Paul Horton , Rob Cole physics

Fields of Study: business and management, economics, environmental studies, law and public policy and sustainability studies

Spring: CRN (Credit) Level 30381 (16) So - Sr  

Credits: 16(S)

Class Standing: Sophomore - Senior

Offered During: Day


What does it take to create and run businesses in an era of increasing resource scarcity and global climate change? The world stands on a threshold, where the reconciliation of human and natural systems is moving from an important consideration to an urgent necessity. Whether one is a protagonist or a skeptic, in many undeniable ways, business is one of the largest engines of change today. The trajectory taken by business in the first half of the 21st century will determine in many important ways the quality of life of the earth’s inhabitants for centuries to come. Students entering or returning to the workforce face have an unprecedented opportunity to participate in and shape the future direction of business either as new business owners, social entrepreneurs,sustainability consultants, or external advocates for change. 

Through a systems view of the interactions between humans, commerce and the environment, we will examine the need for change by looking at the key drivers of non-sustainability which include: growing consumer, regulatory and financial pressure; population increase; rising global affluence; and in particular, global climate change. We will explore the scientific evidence for global warming and the efforts to discredit that evidence. We will study the role of multinational corporations in global climate change and how they influence public opinion. We will focus on how to respond to global warming in a fashion that works toward sustainability and equity in the ecosystems that support life on the planet. We will also explore issues of justice between humans, and how humans interact with other species. 

We will take a critical look at the traditional business model and the changing role of business today. We will examine more sustainable alternatives, paying particular attention to the vision necessary to make a successful sustainable business. We will spend a significant portion of the quarter learning about and putting into practice cutting-edge strategies and methods to create sustainable business models. We will focus on ways to identify and prioritize sustainable business practices, and will explore several case studies and examples. This will also include an examination of the ideas and methods advocated by visionary groups like The Natural Step, Cradle-to-Cradle, Climate Solutions, and Slow Food. 

As part of this process, we will survey carbon dioxide mitigation strategies, study carbon budgeting and accounting, as well as the intricacies of carbon capping and offsetting strategies, and opportunities to reduce net carbon dioxide production. We will study the impact these strategies might have on sustainable business practices. Students can expect to do research on emerging technologies and business strategies that move us to carbon neutrality while fostering sustainability and justice. 

In addition to gaining an understanding of how we can all lessen our impact on global climate change and move toward equity, students can expect to sharpen their critical reasoning, writing and speaking skills, as well as their ability to work with quantitative methods and to interpret quantitative data from a variety of sources.

Students will be expected to make a small-group presentation on a case study of a sustainable business, and complete a sustainability plan for a business as a term project. 

Maximum Enrollment: 50

Preparatory for studies or careers in: sustainability studies, resource managment, and business.

Campus Location: Olympia

Online Learning: Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online

Books: www.tescbookstore.com

Program Revisions

Date Revision
January 27th, 2011 New program added.