University of Toronto Mississauga •
Department of Geography • Fall 2015
SSM2020H: SUSTAINABILITY ETHICS
This course is designed to develop an
understanding of: (1) the ethics of sustainability, (2) business
ethics, (3) how business views sustainability, (4) how to
influence corporate strategy and decision making through
business ethics, and (5) important current and future topics and
issues in sustainability ethics. The focus of the course will be
practical, and will build upon a historical understanding of
ethical developments to offer students a perspective on current
practices as well as future prospects.
Upon completion of this course, course
participants will be able to:
• Recognize ethical dilemmas related to
• Appreciate the opportunities and risks inherent in
• Make practical, defensible decisions about them,
• Influence corporate decision makers to take sustainability
ethics into account effectively, and
• Apply ethical reasoning to sustainability dilemmas encountered
in the future.
Extracts from: Business & Professional Ethics for Directors, Executives
& Accountants, L.J. Brooks & P. Dunn, Cengage Learning, 7e, Stamford CT,
Weekly reading list
The weekly reading list is provided beginning on page 6 of the course
outline. A few texts will require you to use the library website.
This course is taught primarily through the Socratic
discussion of issues, and the use of readings, cases, and videos where
appropriate. Class participation will be graded. Short exercises will also be used, and students will be required to demonstrate the
application of business ethics to a sustainability issue or concern in
an essay assignment. The course will end with an examination of all of
the topics covered.
Learning in this course will be evaluated both on
group as well an individual basis as specified. In group courseworks,
group members will share the same grade adjusted by peer evaluation.
Your final grade will be calculated as follows:
Components of Coursework and Weights
Written Analysis of Sustainability Issue
To be assigned (Group) | Due:
October 19, 2005
Application of Business Ethics Analysis
See below for details (Individual) |
Due: November 16, 2015
In-class Contribution (Individual)
Written Analysis of a Sustainability Issue (Group)
Each group will submit a written report on a pre-assigned case that will
be given in the class. A detailed discussion on case discussion,
presentation and report writing will be held in the first week. A rubric
for assessment will also be discussed.
Application of Business Ethics (Individual)
Students will chose a sustainability-related issue that presents an
ethical dilemma for a corporation, and prepare a report that will
include their ethical analysis of the issue, and how they would attempt
to influence the strategy, decision making and actions of the company to
recognize the problem and implement your analysis and recommendations.
The issue chose must be approved in advance by Prof. Brooks. The real
name of the company involved cannot be used unless authorized by Prof.
Class participation requires you be present in the class each week,
pre-read the cases, participate actively in lecture discussions as well
as in class exercises. Class participation grades are based on quality
of contribution in discussions during case lectures, case presentations
and in-class exercises.
Students should note that copying, plagiarizing, or
other forms of academic misconduct will not be tolerated. Any
student caught engaging in such activities will be subject to academic
discipline ranging from a mark of zero on the assignment, test or
examination to dismissal from the university as outlined in the academic
handbook. Any student abetting or otherwise assisting in such misconduct
will also be subject to academic penalties.
Students are expected to familiarize themselves with
the University's Code of
Behaviour on Academic Matters.
Normally, students will be required to submit their course essays to
Turnitin.com for a review of textual similarity and detection of
possible plagiarism. In doing so, students will allow their essays to be
included as source documents in the Turnitin.com reference database,
where they will be used solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism.
The terms that apply to the University's use of the Turnitin.com service
are described on the Turnitin.com web site.
Turnitin course ID number: 10444819
Any modifications to the course will be announced and explained in
For information purposes, the School of Graduate
Studies deadline to drop this course without academic penalty is
November 2, 2015. Please note that MScSM Program students must have
the written permission of the Program Director to drop a course. Please
consult with the Program Registrar if you are considering dropping a
Wednesday, September 16
- Len Brooks & Pierre Desrochers
• Objectives of the course
• Resources, Readings, Cases, Exercises
• Assessment - group and individual work
• Assessment - participation
• Methodology for Case Analysis, Presentation and Writing
• What does sustainability ethics really mean?
• Class Exercise: Fossil Fuels Divestment Campaign
Environmental Ethics and Sustainability (EE) - Desrochers
• Environmental ethics: Schools of thought - overview
• Economic development, standards of living and
• Topical issue: Population, Consumption and Resources
Profitability, Externalities and Sustainability - Desrochers
• Market failures and sustainability
• Government failures and externality
• Topical issue: Industrial Waste Recovery
License to Operate: Fossil Fuels - Desrochers
• Historical perspective
• (Realistic) alternatives
• Topical issue: Moral Case for Fossil Fuels (Epstein)
and Ethical Oil
Race to the
Bottom and Environmental Justice: Corporate location
decisions - Desrochers
• Correlation and Causation
• Determinant of corporate location decisions
• Topical issue: Location of landfills and refineries
Business Ethics (BE) - Brooks
• Ethics & business ethics - what is involved?
• Why did it develop?
• What were the important milestones?
• What are the key topics at the moment?
• What is an ethical dilemma?
• Ethical reasoning
• Philosopher's contributions to ethical reasoning and
• Cases: Harry Potter and the Green Brigade;
President's Choice Diapers;
Deciding Who Receives the Swine Flu Vaccine;
Daimler Settles U.S. Bribery Case for $185 Million
Ethical Decision Making - Brooks
• Rules of Thumb
• Stakeholder Theory & Stakeholder Decision Analysis
• Practical ethical decision techniques
• Comprehensive ethical decisions
• Cases: BetaSeron Decision (A); Ford Pinto; Bribery
Governance, Strategy & Risk Management - Brooks
• How are corporations governed?
• Why and how do corporations create strategies?
• How do corporations make strategic and operation
• Why are corporations interested in risk management, and
why are sustainability concerns relevant?
• How can you argue successfully for ethical sustainability
• Cases: Kardell Paper Co.; Brent Spar
The Exxon Valdez; Texaco: The Ecuador Issue
Social Responsibility/Sustainability Activities & Reporting
• CSR/Sustainability activities
• Measurement & reporting formats - GRI, etc.
• Measurement & reporting challenges
• Speaker: TBA
• Cases: CSR Report (TBA); GRI Report (TBA)
Organizational Culture Sensitive to Sustainability - Brooks
• Why bother
• Organizational culture - what it is, and how it works
• Cultural sensitivity to sustainability - what it means
• Control & monitoring mechanisms
• Whistleblowing mechanisms
• How to achieve
• Cases: BP's Corporate Culture; BP's Gulf Oil Spill
Tylenol Recalls (2010): Its Still About Reputation
Local Food - Desrochers
• Historical Perspective
• Claims Vs Reality
• Winners and losers
• Topical issue: Soil Association and Ontario
Leonard J. Brooks is Professor of Business
Ethics. He is the Executive Director of the Rotman School's Clarkson
Centre for Business Ethics, and Director of the University's
Professional Accounting Centre, Master of Management & Professional
Accounting Program, and Diploma in Investigative and Forensic Accounting
Program. He has authored many articles and authored or
co-authored/edited several books including Business & Professional
Ethics for Directors, Executives & Accountants, 7e (2015); Ethics
& Governance: Developing and Maintaining an Ethical Corporate Culture,
4e (2012); and Principles of Stakeholder Management (1999).
Professor Brooks is a former Director of the Canadian Centre for Ethics
& Corporate Policy, and was a member of the Editorial Board of the
Journal for Business Ethics for fourteen years. He is a Faculty
Associate of the University's Centre for Ethics and member of its Centre
for Bioethics. His research interests include governance, business and
professional ethics, risk management, ethical decision making, conflicts
of interest, and developing and maintaining an ethical corporate
culture. He received the 2000 Ethics in Action Award - Ongoing Social
Responsibility - Individual in recognition of his leadership in the
field of corporate social responsibility.
Pierre Desrochers is Associate Professor of Geography. He has
written a number of academic articles, books and popular columns on
environmental policy issues and debates and has won a few awards for
some of these, most notably an Emerald Management Reviews' award for
having written the top environmental management paper and one of top
fifty management articles of 2002 (selected out of 20,000 articles). His
primary research interests revolve around economic development and
energy, food and environmental policy.
1. Suzuki, David. 2013. "Externalities."
Resource Base Economy.
2. Meiners, Roger. 2014. "How
Dirty Laws Trash the Environment." Learn Liberty.
1. Young, Suzanne. 2013. "Externalities." In Samuel O. Idowu, Nicholas
Capaldi, Liangrong Zu, Ananda Das Gupta (eds). Encyclopedia of
Corporate Social Responsibility, Springer, pp. 1121-1123.
2. Lux, Kenneth. 2003. "The
Failure of the Profit Motive." Ecological Economics 44 (1):
3. Boyd, James. 2014. "Business
Motivations for Conservation." Resources (185): 20-25.
4. Desrochers, P. 2013. "Greed
Is Green: How the Profit Motive Helps the Environment." The American
5. Desrochers, P. and H. Shimizu. 2012. "Innovation
and the greening of Alberta's oil sands" (with Hiroko Shimizu),
Montreal Economic Institute (read pp. 5-19).
6. Barnett, Andy, Bruce Yandle. 2009. "The
End of the Externality Revolution." Social Philosophy and Policy
26 (2): 130-150 (or full text
available via ResearchGate).
1. Moffatt, Mike. 2012. "David
Suzuki Needs an Economics Refresher Course." The Globe and Mail
2. Reed, Andrew and Pierre Desrochers. 2008. "The
Invisible Green Hand." Mercatus Policy Series, Policy Primer #7.
1. Aol.com 2015. "Naomi
Klein: The Leap Manifesto Is A Call For Positive Change."
2. Democracy Now. 2015 "Naomi
Klein on The Leap Manifesto & What a System of Climate and Economic
Justice Looks Like." (October 5, 2012).
3. Epstein, Alex. 2015. "Why
You Should Love Fossil Fuels." Praeger University (April 20).
4. Ridley, Matt. 2013. "Matt
Ridley on How Fossil Fuels are Greening the Planet." Reason TV.
--Critics of Fossil Fuels
1. ---. 2015.
2. Flattau, Edward. 2015. "Fossil
Fuel Immorality." Huffington Post (February 16).
3. Kenyon, Duncan and Andrew Read. 2014. "The
Costs of Losing Social License." Pembina Institute (June
--Defenders of Fossil Fuels
4. Goklany, Indur. 2012. "Humanity
Unbound: How Fossil Fuels Saved Humanity from Nature and Nature from
Humanity." Cato Policy Analysis No. 715.
5. O'Neill, Brendan. 2014. "Hands
Off the Human Footprint." Spiked! (December 17).
6. De Souza, Raymond J. 2012. "Father
Raymond J. de Souza on the Oil Sands: Even more Ethical than you Thought."
National Post (June 28).
--Reality is not Optional (for Now)
7. Koningstein, Ross and David Fork. 2014. "What
It Would Really Take to Reverse Climate Change." IEEE Spectrum
8. Stavins, Robert N. 2014. "Divestment
Is No Substitute for Real Action on Climate Change." Environment
360 (March 20).
--Social Licenses and Fossil Fuels
9. Yates, Brian F. and Celesa L. Horvath. 2013. "Social
License to Operate: How to Get It, and How to Keep It." Pacific
Energy Summit 2013.
10. Gerson, Jen. 2014. "Rise
of 'Social Licence': Claiming they Speak for their Community, Protest
Groups are Undermining the Law." National Post (October 17).
11. ---. 2014. "Do
Pipeline Companies need Social License?" Canadian Energy Pipeline
Association (October 28).
1. Brooks & Dunn, Chapter 1
1. Brooks & Dunn, Chapter 4
1. Brooks & Dunn, Chapter 5
1. Brooks & Dunn, Chapter 7: 470-481.
1. Brooks & Dunn, Chapter 5
1. Quinn, Martin. 2013. "Locally Grown/Locally Raised." In Samuel O.
Idowu, Nicholas Capaldi, Liangrong Zu, Ananda Das Gupta (eds)
Encyclopedia of Corporate Social Responsibility, Springer, pp.
2. McWilliams, James. 2014. "Food Miles." In Paul B. Thompson, David M.
Kaplan (eds.), Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics,
Springer, pp. 904-909.
3. McCaffrey, Sara Jane and Nancy B. Kurland. Forthcoming. "Does
"Local" Mean Ethical? The U.S. "Buy Local" Movement and CSR in SMEs."
Organization & Environment.
4. Sexton, Steven, 2009. "Does
Local Production Improve Environment and Health Outcomes?" ARE
Updates 13 (2): 5-8.
5. Lusk, Jayson. 2013 "Lunch
with Pigou: Externalities and the 'Hidden' Cost of Food."
Agricultural and Resource Economics 42 (3): 419-435.
6. Hartley, Aidan. 2007. "Kenyan
Fury at Threat to Organic Trade." The Guardian (July 15).
Should we Stop Flying in Organic Food?" The Guardian
(September 6, 2007).
8. O'Neill, Brendan. 2007. "'Buy
British'? A Badly Soiled Argument." Spiked! (October 25).
9. OMAFRA. 2015.
Ontario's Local Food Report 2014-15 Edition. (June).