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RSM2014H – Sustainability Strategy

General Information


Applicable Major(s):
(c) = Core, (r) = Recommended

  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship (c)
  • Social Impact & Sustainability (r)


In this course, students will learn from a weekly mix of early-stage executives concerning how to build strategic intent around sustainability and innovation, and how to deliver innovation to market through the design and delivery of business models that generate new, sustainable economic growth. Hence, we will examine sustainability as a source of innovation to drive new growth through sustained, long-term resource efficiency.  Students will learn how to analyze industry value chains to identify business model innovation, as a means to either optimize existing customer value propositions or design new business opportunities.  Moreover, students will learn about entrepreneurship, by working in groups to build sustainable start-ups.  Those interested in a career as an entrepreneur or with companies that have built strategies anchored around sustainability and innovation will find this a very practical approach to gaining meaningful insights and learnings from industry leaders.


12 weekly sessions on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 6:30-8:30 pm.

Course Mission

The overriding learning objectives of the course are to expose students to practical examples of how companies and corporate executives DO the following:

  • Generate new business opportunities by employing sustainability as a source of innovation to drive new growth and competitive advantage;
  • Identify new sources of business model innovation by analyzing industry value chains to optimize and create new customer value propositions and unique customer experiences;
  • Build great teams anchored by exceptional leadership; and
  • Design and deliver scalable business models to market that result in superior economic returns with enhanced governance, environmental and social outcomes.

Course Scope

The course will take students on a journey, which starts with how companies build a culture of sustainability and innovation, followed by examining how key business model enablers: (1) employ finance to scale economic drivers; (2) use social impact as a source of innovation; and (3) use fourth industrial revolution tech to unlock new/optimized customer value propositions and unique customer experiences, which are manifested in new business models.  Innovation happens from the outside in and is driven by great leaders and great teams, which identify value chain disruptions early. We will examine practical examples of how sustainability, leadership and innovation is influencing business model design and delivery in several industry verticals.  We will also take a high-level look at the changes driving global energy markets, along with the macro sustainability challenges and how companies are scaling solutions to deliver global, material impact.  We will close by looking at global sustainability trends influencing the clean-tech venture industry, and corporate social responsibility and environmental sustainability.

Students will work in groups to design a start-up that are built on the following business model attributes:

  • Replicability, scaleability and materiality; and
  • Enhanced sustainability (environmental, social & governance) and economic outcomes.

Evaluation and Grade Breakdown

Class Participation15%
Company Sustainability & Innovation Strategy Analysis (Individual)30%
Sustainable Start-Up Design (Group)55%

Required Resources

Links to readings are provided in the course outline.

Last Updated: 2022-06-28 @ 11:15 am