Sustainability in Business. Transforming the World for the Future

Course Leader: Dr Ewa Wójcik

Home Institution: University of Economics in Katowice, Poland

Course Overview
The course is aimed at increasing students’ awareness of the contemporary trends in macroeconomics, such as demographics, ageing of the societies and labour market requirements as well as in microeconomics, such as consumer expectations and behavioural shifts which should all lead to inevitable changes in business activity. Development of technologies such as blockchain creates new opportunities for business but may also “disrupt” certain industries. The need to focus on sustainable development stressed by international organizations, such as the United Nations, the European Union or the World Bank is parallel to redefined consumer role and business functions. The awareness of the challenges should provide background for defining specific areas where sustainability issues are core. The UN recognized the importance of financial issues in meeting other sustainability objectives so they will be addressed as well as sustainable consumption and production, employment relations, CSR values, ethical dimension, the psychology of human behaviour, cultural sustainability, etc.

Learning Outcomes
By the end of this course, students should be able to understand the core issues of sustainability. They will acquire knowledge about the processes in the economy that have and will have a profound effect on business activity as well as on individuals and will be able to perceive why it is necessary to adopt a new style of running a business. They will be accustomed to the steps undertaken now to make customers “a part of a game” and get them proactively involved. Using this knowledge they will be able to make projections about customers’ expectations in the future and define business roles in meeting them accordingly and design activities, such as those within gamification, that have potential in contributing to sustainable development of the societies. Students will be able to exemplify areas of business activity that will be influenced by the changing micro- and macro- environment. They will understand the role of technology development (eg. blockchain) in disrupting business models, eg in financial services as well as in contributing to financial inclusion. They will define ways of responding to the needs of the ageing societies, those who are financially excluded, different stakeholders, such as consumers and employees and suggest realistic solutions for the business to implement.


Course Content

I.-Background information –discussion of trends and challenges of the contemporary world

- Demographic and social changes
- Labour market challenges resulting from changing age makeup
- New generations and silver economy requirements
- Precarity, the Precariat as a new social class
- “Giganomics” - the new perspective of employers and employees
- Financial exclusion
- Basic income – is a welfare system a solution to employment problems ?

II.-ICT, digital revolution as a driving force to changes in customer behaviour/ expectations, as well as a tool with a potential to facilitate “disruption” of certain industries

- Blockchain technology and its potential in different industries, eg. Banking.
- Sharing economy, its scope and implications, platforms as facilitators of the shared use of resources.
- Examples of sharing economy models. Will the model of  “from bottom to top” work and expand?
- The role of changing consumers’ criteria, behaviour, increased awareness and different perception of value.

III.-Business main stakeholders: customers/clients and employees in the concept of CSR. The notion of trust.

- CSR activities and support of sustainable choices in the light of the EU legislation, eg. directive on transparency and disclosure of non-financial information.
- The concept of sharing economy from the perspective of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability.
- Financial institutions and trust.

IV.-The importance of financial inclusion in sustainable development.

- Areas and activities that can be facilitated by financial inclusion.
- Case studies.

V.-Ways of utilizing social trends in business practice.

- Consumers role in co-creating value
- Gamification as a tool enhancing sustainable choices and behaviour

VI.-Project- group work or pair work.

Designing a model for practical implementation aimed at sustainable consumer and/ or business behavior within one of the areas discussed ( silver economy, financial inclusion, efficient CSR activity, gamification to prevent/reduce environment unfriendly behavior, sustainable employment)

Instructional Method

Lectures presenting the main aspect and workshops where case studies can be presented, dilemmas discussed and problems solved.

Group projects at the end of the course.

Required Course Materials

Access to the Internet.


Lectures and background material will be provided, eg on the e-learning platform, or group e-mail account. Students will be requested to refer to the material, reflect on the most important issues and prepare test/quiz questions for other students/ groups to revise the material. They will be presented case studies by the teacher and asked to prepare presentations about similar examples from their countries. At the end of the course, groups/ pairs will design an activity (eg. within gamification) that will be a response to the requirements of a sustainable world for a company of own choice.