COMM 487/597 — Instructor: Prof. Werner Antweiler
environmental management
September-December 2017
Tuesday/Thursday 14:00-15:30
in ANGU 296
Syllabus [PDF]

This course will not be offered in the fall of 2018 and will return in the fall of 2019. Therefore, 2017 will be the only year in which current 3rd-year and 4th-year students at Sauder will be able to enroll in COMM 487.

In a business context, environmental management describes the set of tasks related to developing, implementing, and monitoring the firm's environmental strategy. This course is about formulating corporate environmental strategy in a world characterized by unprecedented environmental challenges such as climate change, air and water pollution, water scarcity, health risks, as well as the challenges posed by resource depletion and the increasing need to change from carbon-based energy sources to renewable energy sources.

In order to understand corporate environmental strategy, it is necessary to explore economic principles underlying environmental policy, environmental law, the managerial practices that respond to policy interventions, and the environmental technologies that facilitate pollution prevention and pollution abatement. Corporate environmental strategy is multi-layered as it touches upon the entire life-cycle of products as well as the entire value chain. A firm's environmental responsibility starts with the sourcing of inputs but does not simply end with the sale and distribution of its products, but rather the eventual disposal at the end of a product's life-cycle. Corporate environmental strategy can be active (focusing on environmental competence such as new environmentally-friendly goods and technologies) or reactive (reducing the firm's environmental footprint through reduction of emissions), and needs to be implemented and monitored through an appropriate environmental management system that facilitates reporting, auditing, and adaptation. ISO-14000 certification will take a central place in the related discussion.

In order to appreciate environmental management in practice, a closer look at environmental technology and engineering practices is both useful and necessary. Which technologies are available to prevent, abate, or eliminate pollutants? What are the economic trade-offs to be considered? How should companies interact with stakeholders in society?

This course aims at exploring both theory and practice. Students taking this course will gain an appreciation of the complexity of designing corporate environmental strategy in the presence of diverse and competing stakeholder interests. Polar Bear Stories taken out of recent newspaper coverage will often provide the lead-in for discussions.

The module is taught using a combination of lectures, small case studies, independent reading, and team work. Small student teams will be given the opportunity to analyze new environmental technologies or managerial challenges of existing firms and present their findings in class. These in-class presentations are intended to facilitate debates about opposing views or competing technologies (e.g., micro-hydro in BC pro and con, incineration versus landfills, hybrid cars versus electric cars, nuclear energy versus coal with carbon-capture and storage, and so on). The purpose of the group work is to explore and discuss competing approaches to corporate environmental strategy.

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