Addressing growing interest from UConn students, the School of Business is launching a minor in Social Responsibility and Impact in Business.
The program is open to all UConn undergraduates, regardless of major. A parallel concentration is also being offered to marketing majors.
“We are excited to be offering this concentration/minor to provide students with the foundations to understand more about how business can work toward the betterment of society, both locally and globally,’’ says Robin Coulter, head of the Marketing Department in the School of Business.
“We strongly believe that this concentration/minor will assist our students in being better prepared as future business leaders who are concerned about making an impact, and addressing the local and global challenges that society is facing,’’ she says.
The program will help students identify the environmental and human rights impacts of business; analyze the evolving expectations of business organizations; and leverage the legal and market drivers of sustainability, says Rachel Chambers, assistant professor of business law and Co-Director of the Teaching Business and Human Rights Forum, who teaches two of the required courses for the minor.
Professor Stephen Park, the Satell Fellow in Corporate Social Responsibility and Director of the Business and Human Rights Initiative at UConn, says that teaching these topics is no longer a luxury for business schools.
A recent global survey conducted by the Yale Center for Business and the Environment found that a majority of business students believe corporate leaders should be solving environmental and social issues; expect sustainability to be threaded throughout a corporation’s priorities; expect business schools to go into greater depth on sustainability topics; and would accept a lower salary to work with a sustainability-conscious employer.
“There is tremendous value in thinking about business and society in an integrated manner,’’ he says. “Social responsibility, sustainability, economic insecurity, ESG, climate risk, social enterprise, and a whole host of other environmental and social challenges and opportunities are all relevant to business. They shouldn’t be seen as at all separate from each other.’’
Park says the new minor will leverage the school’s unique array of assets, which include a renowned faculty, a strong network of alumni and business partners, conferences and speaker series, co-curricular programs and student organizations, and its longstanding partnership with UConn’s Human Rights Institute.
“Students increasingly want to have this perspective so they can have careers that align with their values and so that they are equipped with the knowledge to ‘do better,’’’ Park says. “This minor is useful for anyone who aspires to work for an organization in any field or function, or is considering starting their own company.’’
The minor includes two required courses: Corporate Social Responsibility and Accountability (BLAW/MKTG/ HRTS 3252) and Business Solutions for Societal Challenges (BLAW/MKTG/ HRTS 3254). To complete the minor, students must also complete BLAW 3175/BADM 3720 and one other 3-credit 3000-4000 level BLAW course (or any one 3-credit 3000-4000 level BADM or HRTS course that is cross-listed with a BLAW course). A new elective course, Sustainability, Markets, and Society (BLAW/MKTG/BADM 3253), will be offered in the fall.