COURSE: One Planet Business: From Challenge to Opportunity

Summary Description

This module is designed to provide an introduction to the challenges and opportunities for business and society, in the contested transition to a sustainable world. It helps make ‘the case for change’ in business and economy, and introduces examples of ‘change for good’. Drawing on peer-reviewed research it explores the scale of interlinked sustainability challenges and opportunities, from a triple-bottom line perspective (planet, people, prosperity). It introduces the concept of sustainable development and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their relevance to business. It explores major economic innovations including the Circular Economy, the Sharing Economy, and the Green Economy, their contributions to sustainability, and their implications for the changing role of business in society. It also explores the role of personal transformation within the wider transition. The module encourages critical and constructive thinking. It promotes individual and group learning, mindful practices, and leverages multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder experiences. It draws on studies and guest speakers from business and civil society groups.

Does this course carry Credit Value


Duration (Number of Hours)


Course Format


Course Booking Options

Available for booking by academic institutions

Available for booking by employers

Available for booking by learner groups

Maximum Number of Students








Syllabus Plan – summary of the structure and academic content of the module

Day 1. PLANET: Introduction to the Module; a VUCA world; scale of global ecological challenges such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, water and energy security, waste and pollution; Planetary Boundaries; and the systemic risks to business and society. Introduction to sustainable development, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and business. Introduction to new economy model 1 – The Circular Economy, with emphasis on recycling and reuse. etc. Guest speaker from a Business or NGO.

Day 2. PEOPLE: Scale of global social challenges such as demographic dynamics, poverty, inequality, consumerism, exploitation, workplace stress; social foundations (‘Doughnut’ Model), reputational risks to business and society: Introduction to New Economy Model 2 – The Sharing Economy, and Caring Economics, with emphasis on creating shared value and wellbeing, etc. Guest speaker from Business or NGO.

Day 3. PROSPERITY: critical reflection on mainstream economic concepts such as growth, profit, capital, environment as a cost, and the GDP metric. Introduction to New Economy Model 3 – the Green Economy with emphasis on 5 capital framework (natural capital), new markets and metrics.. Guest Speaker from Business or NGO.

Day 4: TRANSFORMATION: Critical reflection on transforming economy from ‘Capitalism 1.0 to 2.0’; transforming business from ‘Corporation 1920 to Corporation 2020’; and transforming Self in leading from ‘Ego-System to Eco-System Economies’. A One Planet Business Design Challenge. Guest Speaker from Business or NGO.

Intended Learning Outcomes – on completion of this module, students will be able to…

1. Understand the global nexus of ecological, social, and economic challenges facing society, and the risks and opportunities for business today;

2. Understand the concept of sustainable development, key sustainable business concepts, and the role of business to contributing to achieving the SDGs;

3. Understand how business, society and self are co-evolving, through an introduction to new economic models such as the circular economy, sharing economy, and green economy;

4. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the sustainable development debate, and its relevance to business;

5. Conduct an analysis of business from a sustainability perspective (apply theoretical concepts and arguments to the analysis of empirical case studies);

6. Collect and understand data from diverse stakeholders;

7. Understand how your business can contribute to the achievement of the SDGs.


This course serves the following UN Sustainable Development Goals (please tick all that apply). For a fuller description of the SDGs please visit

SDG 1 – No Poverty

SDG 2 – Zero Hunger

SDG 3 – Good Health & Wellbeing

SDG 4 – Quality Education

SDG 5 – Gender Equality

SDG 6 – Clean Water & Sanitation

SDG 7 – Affordable & Clean Energy

SDG 8 – Decent Work & Economic Growth

SDG 9 – Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure

SDG 10 – Reduced Inequalities

SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities & Communities

SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption & Production

SDG 13 – Climate Action

SDG 14 – Life Below Water

SDG 15 – Life On Land

SDG 16 – Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions

SDG 17 – Partnerships for the Goals

Teaching & Learning Methods


Guided Independent Study/Research

Experiential Learning

Industry/Field Visits

Reflective Journal

Assessment Methods

Group Presentation

Oral exam / viva

Feedback Methods

Verbal feedback to individual student

Written feedback to individual student

Key Learning Resources

BOOK: Jeanrenaud, S., Jeanrenaud, J-P., J. Gosling. (2017): Sustainable Business: A One Planet Approach. Chichester, Wiley. (PDF copies of Chapters 1 & 2 will be made available to participants)

PAPER: Scheyvens, R.; Banks, G.; & Hughes, E. (2016): The Private Sector and the SDGs. The Need to Move Beyond Business as Usual. Sustainable Development 24 (6): 371-382

VIDEO: OECD (2016) Business and Sustainable Development: Can they work for each other? (2.39 mins)





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