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 sustainability,
- Appreciate the opportunities and risks inherent in sustainability problems,
- 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, 2015.
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.
WRITTEN ANALYSIS OF A SUSTAINABILITY ISSUE (GROUP)
From Pierre Desrochers:
I am flexible on most issues, but expect the following
A 2 page executive summary (maximum)
If you are working alone, an 8-10 page document.
If you are in a team, 3-4 pages per contributor (and the more people, the more you should aim for 3 pages per contributor)
In terms of style, I encourage you to look up the following for advice and guidance
CHRSF. 2006. Teamwork in Healthcare: Promoting Effective Teamwork in Healthcare in Canada. Policy Synthesis and Recommendations (June).
Industry Canada. 2015. Industrial and Technological Benefits: Policy Updates.
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. Brooks.
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: XXX
Any modifications to the course will be announced and explained in class.
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 course.
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.
Wednesday, September 16
Introduction – Len Brooks & Pierre Desrochers
Worldviews: Environmental Ethics and Sustainability (EE) – Desrochers
Profitability, Externalities and Sustainability – Desrochers
(Social) License to Operate: Fossil Fuels – Desrochers
Race to the Bottom and Environmental Justice: Corporate location decisions – Desrochers
Evolution of Business Ethics (BE) – Brooks
Practical Ethical Decision Making – Brooks
Corporate Governance, Strategy & Risk Management – Brooks
Corporate Social Responsibility/Sustainability Activities & Reporting – Brooks
Creating an Organizational Culture Sensitive to Sustainability – Brooks
Varia: Local Food – Desrochers
1. Toronto 350.org. 2014. Toronto350 Promotional Video.
— Sustainability Ethics
1. Mandel, Kyla. 2014. “Sustainability Professionals: Coming into their Own.” ENDS (Environmental Data Services) (June), special section, pp.10-11.
2. Prahalad, Coimbatore Krishnarao. 2010. “Responsible Manager.” Harvard Business Review (January): 88.
3. Globerman, Steven. 2011. “The Social Responsibility of Managers: Reassessing and Integrating Diverse Perspectives.” Business & Society Review 116 (4): 509-532.
4. Unruh, Gregory C. 2008. “The Biosphere Rules.” Harvard Business Review 86 (2): 111.
— Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign
5. Toronto350.org. 2015. The Fossil Fuel Industry and the Case for Divestment: Update (Executive Summary).
6. Office of the President (Harvard University). 2013. “Fossil Fuel Divestment Statement” (October 3).
1. Friedman, Milton. 1970. “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits.” (September 13).
2. Resources on the Fossil Fuel Divestment Controversy
Resources on the Fossil Fuel Divestment Controversy
Toronto350.org. 2015. The Fossil Fuel Industry and the Case for Divestment: Update (see also “An Ethical and Financial Case for Divestment.” (University of Toronto Divestment Lecture by Dimitri Lascaris))
Gertler, Meric. 2016. Beyond Divestment: Taking Decisive Action on Climate Change. Administrative Response to the Report of the President’s Advisory Committee on Divestment from Fossil-Fuels. University of Toronto.
UofT News. 2016. Q & A with President Meric Gertler on U of T’s 14-point plan, Beyond Divestment (March 30).
UofT Community 2016. Response to the Report of the Fossil Fuel Divestment Committee.
Kalvapalle, Rahul. 2020. “UTAM to reduce the carbon footprint of its long-term investments by at least 40 per cent by 2030.” UofT News (February 13).
Overview of the issue
Domonell, Kristen. 2013. “Is Fossil Fuel Divestment a Wise Move? Making the case for and against stripping endowments of fossil fuel investments.” University Business (June).
Hirji, Zahra and Elizabeth Douglass. 2015. “Map: Tracking Academia’s Fossil Fuel Divestment.” Inside Climate News (March 20).
Tollefson, Jeff. 2015. “Fossil-fuel divestment campaign hits resistance. Academics suggest other ways to cut carbon emissions on campus and beyond.” Nature (May 6).
Woodhouse, Kellie. 2015. “Does Divestment Cost?“ Inside Higher Ed (September 21).
Ritchie, Justin and Hadi Dowlatabadi. 2015. Fossil Fuel Divestment: Reviewing Arguments, Implications & Policy. Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions Opportunities.
McMaster University. President’s Advisory Committee on Fossil Fuels Divestment. Report to the President. October 2017.
Constable, John. 2020. “The Future of Oil, Gas, and Coal: Stranded Assets or Safe Refuge?” GWPF (January 1).
Background of the movement
Grady-Benson, Jessica and Brinda Sarathy. Forthcoming. “Fossil fuel divestment in US higher education: student-led organising for climate justice.” Local Environment.
Fossil Fuel Divestment on Wikipedia (provided for its links)
McKibben, Bill. 2013. “The Case for Fossil Fuel Divestment.” Rolling Stone (February 22).
Dickinson, Tim. 2015. “The Logic of Divestment.” Rolling Stone (January 14): 31-35.
Tillmann T, Currie J, Wardrope A, McCoy D. Fossil fuel companies and climate change: the case for divestment. BMJ. 2015;350:h3196.
Howard, Emma. 2015. “A beginner’s guide to fossil fuel divestment.” The Guardian (June 23).
Impax Asset Management. 2013. Beyond Fossil Fuels: The Investment Case for Fossil Fuel Divestment. (White Paper).
Divest London. 2015. The Case for Fossil Fuel Divestment: City Hall and the LPFA. Briefing for the London Assembly Labour Group (January).
An Taisce (National Trust for Ireland). 2015. The Case for Fossil Fuel Divestment (February).
Sulston, John. 2015. “The Wellcome Trust’s polite business chats won’t save the Earth.” The Guardian (April 8).
Rusbridger, Alan. 2015. “The Argument for Divesting from Fossil Fuels is Becoming Overwhelming.” The Guardian (March 16).
Rubin, Jeff. 2015. “U of T should divest from fossil fuels.” Toronto Star (September 8).
Hale, Ilona, David Hale, Courtney Howard, and Warren Bell. 2014. “Time to divest from the fossil-fuel industry.” CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal. 186.12 (Sept. 2): 960.
Brooks, Mark. 2013. “Banking on Divestment.” Alternatives Journal 39 (6): 48.
Horton, Richard. 2015. “Offline: The thermodynamics of morality.” Lancet 385 (9977): 1494.
Lederer, Katy. 2015. “Defunding Climate Change.” New Yorker (October 2).
Moore, Kathleen Dean. 2015. “Executive Deception: Four Fallacies About Divestment, and One Big Mistake.” Chronicle of Higher Education (October 18).
HuffPost Canada. Fossil Fuel Divestment.
Tucker, Bronwen. 2018. “Canadian Universities Are Way Behind on Fossil Fuel Divestment.” Vice (March 15).
McKibben, Bill. 2019. “Money Is the Oxygen on Which the Fire of Global Warming Burns.” The New Yorker (September 17).
Hopke, Jill and Luis. E. Hestres. 2017. “Communicating about Fossil Fuel Divestment.” Oxford Encyclopedia of Climate Science.
Ilnyckyj, Milan. 2017. “Canadian Campus Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaigns and the Development of Activists.” PhD proposal (University of Toronto, Political Science).
Environmentalists against divestment
Stavins, Robert N. 2014. “Divestment Is No Substitute for Real Action on Climate Change.” Environment 360 (March 20).
Hulme, Mike. 2015. “Why Fossil Fuel Divestment is a Misguided Tactic.” The Guardian (April 17).
Activist investors against (broad) divestment
Farrar, Jeremy. 2015. “Fossil-fuel Divestment is not the Way to Reduce Carbon Emissions.” The Guardian (March 25).
Devinney, Timothy. 2015. “The Argument against Fossil Fuel Divestment.” IR Magazine (May 13).
Hendey, Eric. 2012. “Does Divestment Work?” Harvard Political Review (October 2).
(Generally) Pro fossil fuels
DivestmentFacts.com (Independent Petroleum Association of America)
– Fischel, Daniel R. 2015. Fossil Fuel Divestment: A Costly and Ineffective Investment Strategy. Compass Lexicon.
– Fischel, Daniel R., Christopher R. Fiore and Todd D. Kendall. 2017. Fossil Fuel Divestment and Public Pension Funds. Compass Lexicon.
– Cornell, Bradford. 2015. The Divestment Penalty: Estimating the Costs of Fossil Fuel Divestment to Select University Endowments. Independent Petroleum Association of America.
Nachmany, Eli. 2015. “Opinion: Why I’m Against NYU Fossil Fuel Divestment.” Break Energy (April 30).
— (mattd). 2014. “Divestment Campaign: More Symbolism over Substance.” Oil Sands Fact Check (October 23).
Harries, Rob. 2014. “Fossil Free UK: Divesting from Reality.” Spiked! (September 18).
Driessen, Paul. 2015. “The Ethics and Realities of Divestment.” Townhall.com (February 14).
Driessen, Paul. 2017. “Life in a Fossil-fuel-free Utopia. Life without oil, natural gas and coal would most likely be nasty, brutish and short.” What’s Up with That? (August 13).
Holland, Patrick. 2015. “Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement Fails Students and the Environment.” E21 (January 15).
– 2013. “Don’t Leave it in the Ground.”
– 2013. “Don’t Divest, Educate – An Open Letter to American Universities.” Center for Industrial Progress (June 5).
– 2014. “9 Graphs That Prove Using Fossil Fuels Hasn’t Harmed the Planet.” Daily Caller (November 13).
– 2015. “How Opposition To Fossil Fuels Hurts The Poor Most Of All.” Forbes (January 14).
– 2015. “The Moral Case for Investing, not Divesting, in Fossil Fuels.” Forbes (February 11).
Gapper, John. 2015. “Fossil Fuel Campaigners Play Charades.” Financial Times (April 15).
McArdle, Megan. 2014. “College Students Can’t Defeat Big Oil.” Bloomberg View (September 11).
Jacoby, Jeff. 2015. “A Valentine for Fossil Fuels.” Boston Globe (February 11).
Peterson, Rachel. 2015. Inside Divestment: The Illiberal Movement To Turn A Generation Against Fossil Fuels. National Association of Scholars.
Desrochers, Pierre and Hiroko Shimizu. 2016. Blowing Hot Air on the Wrong Target? A Critique of the Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement in Higher Education, Frontier Centre for Public Policy (July).
Zycher, Benjamin. 2017. “Other People’s Money: The Immorality Of The Fossil-Fuel Divestment Campaign.” Investor’s Business Daily (June 21).
American Fuels and Petrochemical Manufacturers. Keep it Grounded in Fact.
– The Connection Between “Keep It in the Ground” and the “Green New Deal.” (December 17, 2018).
Friesen, Jo. 2020. “Chancellor Martha Billes Quits after University of Guelph Divests from Fossil Fuels.” The Globe & Mail (May 5).
Navarro-Genie, Marco. 2014. “Universities Would be Wrong to Shun Energy Companies.” Calgary Herald (July 16).
1. Marris, Emma. 2011. “Rambunctious Garden trailer.”
1. McShane, Katie. 2009. “Environmental Ethics: An Overview.” Philosophy Compass 4 (3): 407-420.
2. Bailey, Ronald. 2011. “The Myth of Pristine Nature (Review of Emma Marris’ Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World).” Reason Foundation (August 16).
3. Boyd, James. 2013. “The Limits to Ingenuity. Innovation as a Response to Ecological Loss.” Resources (182): 41-45.
4. —-. 2015. “Stuff: When less is More.” Harvard Business Review (March).
5. Diamond, Jared. 2008. “What’s your Consumption Factor?” New York Times (January 2).
6. Bullard, Gabe. 2015. “Data Points: We’ve Consumed More Than the Earth Can Produce This Year.” National Geographic (August 13).
7. Ecomodernism. 2015. An Eco-Modernist Manifesto.
8. Ausubel, Jesse H. 2015. “The Return of Nature. How Technology Liberates the Environment.” The Breakthrough Journal 5 (Summer).
9. Graham, Chelsea. 2015. “Overshoot Day Underestimates Human Ingenuity.” Cato at Liberty (August 19).
Nothing for now
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): 1-9.
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 (April 19).
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 (October 12).
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. The Leap Manifesto.
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 6).
–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 (November 18).
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).
Nothing for now
1. Been, Vicki. 1994. “Locally Undesirable Land Uses in Minority Neighborhoods: Disproportionate Siting or Market Dynamics?” Yale Law Journal 103: 1383-1422.
2. Banzhaf, H. Spencer. 2008. “Environmental Justice Opportunities through Markets.” Property and Environment Research Center PS-42.
3. Fleck, Robert H. and F. Andrew Hanssen. 2007. “Do Profits Promote Pollution? The Myth of the Environmental Race to the Bottom.” Property and Environment Research Center Policy Study PS-41.
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. 1598-1603.
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).
7. “Environment: 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).