Business, Ecology

Course date

10 July - 21 July, 2000
Application deadline
15 February, 2000
Course Director(s): 

Laszlo Zsolnai

Business Ethics Center, Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary
Course Faculty: 

Thorbjorn Knudsen

Odense University, Denmark

Judith Marquand

Oxford Centre for the Environment, Ethics & Society, Oxford University, United Kingdom

Peter Pruzan

Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

James Robertson

Oxford Centre for the Environment, Ethics & Society, Oxford University, United Kingdom

Neil Summerton

Oxford Centre for the Environment, Ethics & Society, Oxford University, United Kingdom

Janos Vargha

Danube Circle, Budapest, Hungary
The main objective of the course is to provide participants with an up to date picture about the conflicting relationship between business and the natural environment. Modern corporations make a considerably negative impact on the natural environment. This generates a lot of  social conflicts that questions the legitimacy of contemporary business activities. The problematic is even more challenging in the transforming economies of Central and Eastern Europe than in the West.
In the last decades new ideas, models and methodologies have been emerged to resolve the conflicts between business, the environment, and society. The course concentrates on the most promising approaches in business administration, environmental management, and social theory. Sustainability is the key issue both at the level of corporations and that of industries. Sustainability is achieved if the ecological value of the affected natural environment does not decline. To approach to this desirable state a lot of changes required in corporate management.
The stakeholder view of business provides a comprehensive framework within which ecological and social values can be reconciled with economic values. The emerging triple bottom line concept requires that ecological, social and economic values should be simultaneously pursued in corporate decisions and policies. Social, ethical, and environmental accounting, auditing, and reporting provide useful tools to measure steeps toward sustainability of companies. Also, the inclusion and participation of the affected social groups in the corporate policy process is vital for establishing a more balanced relationship between business and society concerning environmental issues.
Without explicit ethical considerations that go beyond the politics of interest the natural environment cannot be preserved. Business ethics and environmental ethics supply a rich variety of arguments that should be integrated into corporate environmental policy. In Central and East European countries environmental sustainability is a necessary but not a sufficient goal. The most important ecosystems of the regions call for ecological restoration not simple preservation. The course explores some business opportunities in this direction. (Environmentally sound technologies, eco-tourism, etc.) 
Course level, target audience 
The course is designed for graduate students, young academics, and NGO activists. Participants are expected from diverse fields such as economics and business administration  as well as environmental and social studies. 
The course consist of the following modules:
(1) Economics of Sustainability 
(James Robertson, Oxford Centre for the Environment, Ethics, and Society, Mansfield College, Oxford, UK) 
(2) New Environmentalism: Investor and Consumer Activism 
(Maurie Cohen, Department of Environmental Studies and Policy, State University of New York at Binghamton, USA) 
(3) Business, Ecology and Society 
(László Zsolnai, Business Ethics Center, Budapest University of Economic Sciences,      Hungary) 
(4) Social, Ethical, and Environmental Accountability 
(Peter Pruzan, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark) 
(5) Corporate Environmentalism in an Evolutionary Perspective 
(Thjornborn Knudsen, Odense University, Denmark) 
(6) Developing Competence in Environmental Management 
(Judith Marquand, Oxford Centre for the Environment, Ethics, and Society, Mansfield College, Oxford, UK) 
(7) Ecological Restoration in Central and Eastern Europe 
(János Vargha, The Danube Circle, Budapest, Hungary) 
Teaching methods 
A variety of teaching methods will be used. Lectures, seminars, case study discussions and experimental games will be applied to create a stimulating learning environment. Participants will be asked to form working groups to explore  ecological restoration options for selected natural ecosystems of their own countries or regions. The final day of the course is completely devoted to individual project presentations of the participants. During the course videos produced by the Oxford Centre for the Environment, Ethics, and Society will be used to stimulate discussions.
Application requirements 
Some basic knowledge of the topics is presupposed. A strong commitment to ecological  values is certainly required.