Can you teach corporate responsibility in eight weeks?

I don’t think you can, but I’m about to try.

In January I’ll begin my third year teaching a CR course to MSc students at Birkbeck, a college of the University of London.

Here’s my outline in an eight week framework. I’ve probably missed something:

Week 1: Introduction to corporate responsibility

Week 2: Employees and embedding sustainability in business

Week 3: Business, NGOs, campaigns and partnerships

Week 4: Human rights and business

Week 5: Sustainable agriculture and water

Week 6: Corporate responsibility in emerging markets

Week 7: Business and climate change/biodiversity

Week 8: Corporate Responsibility and investors/markets

Now, what did I miss that I shouldn’t have? 🙂 All comments appreciated…



  1. As someone teaching graduate level corporate comms myself, I am in the same boat of planning a CSR programme. The one bit in yours that seems to be missing is "The role of international standards, self regulatory practice and national legislation"- unless you intedn covering this in every one of the other sessions. It is the bit (in my experience) that helps students understand how lobbying works, and why so many large corporates get involved in standard setting and codes of practice. It also allows you to get the students aware of the HUGE number of standards out there. Good place to introduce the ISO26000 CSR standard, too.
    I hope this helps!

  2. I just finished a similar post-grad class at NYU and from a student's perspective, I have to say that one class is definitely not enough to learn about CSR. The best you can do is give a general framework and an overview of the social/legal environment, but it was the course projects that really helped grasp the concepts, challenges, and opportunities of the field. My advice is: give examples, lots of them, give them big companies to study and discuss in class to promote exchange of knowledge and encourage your students' creativity!
    good luck and have fun!

  3. Linked with Catherine's comments re standards and the recent conference – the role of reporting within a CR communications strategy

  4. Following on from Catherine's comment – what about the role of reporting within a CR communications strategy

  5. More b-schools should offer this class!

    Great syllabus – would love a copy of your reading list.

    The only thing I'd add is a session on stakeholder engagement – why, how, etc.

  6. Many thanks for all the suggestions! All taken on board, and very useful. I'll post a revised version shortly. Toby

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