In recent years, sustainable development has increasingly become a key imperative for businesses. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the world leaders in 2015, showcase universally applicable targets intended to mobilize efforts to end poverty, fight inequalities, and tackle climate change. While the SDGs per se are not legally binding, countries are expected to take ownership and establish national frameworks aimed to accomplish these goals. Furthermore, not only governments and civil society, but also the private sector has been requested to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. These developments imply radical rethinking of established business practices, models, and approaches.
This course provides students with the background and societal implications of the SDGs as well as with theoretical and practical tools to examine their applicability in business practice. It is a blended course with a virtual and an in-class component. Students will have an opportunity to hone their critical-thinking skills by participating in open class discussions and their cross-cultural communication skills by working in multicultural virtual teams. The virtual component was jointly designed by six universities in The Societal Impact & Global Management Alliance (SIGMA): Copenhagen Business School, ESADE, Hitotsubashi University, Singapore Management University, University of St. Gallen, and WU Vienna: https://www.wu.ac.at/en/sigma-rbp/. The in-class component at WU Vienna will include class discussions pertinent to the online materials, practical in-class exercises, and reflection.
During the course of the semester, students will
- complete the online modules of the SIGMA Global Virtual Course: Managing the SDGs
- develop a best-practices case study
- collaborate in cross-national, cross-institutional virtual teams
- work under the supervision of instructors from other universities
- engage in independent learning (completing online modules)
- learn about important topics, such as social innovation and responsible global leadership
- understand the imperative for sustainable development and why businesses and managers are expected to contribute to the Agenda 2030
- engage in an in-depth reflection and discussion process under the theme of rethinking international management with regard to the SDGs
The course emphasizes the training and development of the following skills and competencies:
- Virtual collaboration and communication abilities: The online modules as well as the virtual teamwork provide a setup that trains students in virtual collaboration, including the required technical and soft skills.
- Discussion and reflection abilities: The in-class meetings provide an opportunity for students to practice discussion and debating as well as reflection.
- Navigating paradoxes and trade-offs: Students will encounter numerous paradoxes and trade-offs that one must take into account in order to develop groundbreaking approaches crucial for the achievement of the SDGs.
- Creative and out-of-the-box thinking: Students will rethink established business practices (including their own work experiences), models and approaches, and will engage in innovative, creative, and unconventional reasoning, as relevant and required in the context of sustainable development.
For mandatory SIGMA meetings, please check https://www.wu.ac.at/en/sigma-rbp/timeline/, and ensure that you are available for these dates. They include the Kick-Off Webinar on 2 October, 10:00 a.m. as well as the Closing Webinar on 4 December, 10:00 a.m. For the in-class meetings at WU Vienna, the attendance requirement is met if you are present for at least 80% of the scheduled sessions. NB: Any absences will result in not obtaining the corresponding class-participation credits. Students who fail to meet the attendance requirement will be de-registered from the course. This corresponds to the standard guidelines in place at WU Vienna.
In addition to the above, students are expected to have regular virtual meetings within their student groups (comprising peers from the participating universities) and at least two virtual coaching meetings with their group supervisor.
This course embeds the SIGMA Global Virtual Course: Managing the SDGs, developed by the six SIGMA institutions, in a face-to-face class setting. Online materials – including video inputs, required readings, and module completion assessments – are offered through the Coursera platform (private course mode, not a MOOC). In addition to completing the online modules, students will engage in virtual cross-national, cross-institutional teamwork, in groups composed by students from each of the participating institutions. Each team will develop a best-practice case study, based on desk research, publically available information, interviews, and other case-study tools. Teams will be mentored by a supervisor form one of the participating institutions.
The final course grade is composed of a virtual and an in-class component:
- Virtual component – 70% of the final grade
- 20% Online quizzes on Coursera [indiv.]
- 50% The Case Cast [group]
- 30% Final reflection paper (3 pages) [indiv.]
- In-class component – 30% of the final grade
- 50% In-class reflection papers (5 times 1 page) [indiv.]
- 50% Active and informative in-class participation [group]
Since this course involves virtual work in global teams (across several time zones), punctuality, collaboration and patience in case of any technical issues, will be of crucial importance.