• Class Number 4253
  • Term Code 3130
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Topic On-campus
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Gary Buttriss
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/02/2021
  • Class End Date 28/05/2021
  • Census Date 31/03/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/03/2021
SELT Survey Results

In the 21st century, corporations cannot ignore the impact of increasing formal (regulatory) and informal (community) expectations relating to economic, social, and environmental sustainability.  This course examines the scope of these expectations, explores the reasons behind these expectations, and evaluates the impact of these expectations on corporations operating in a dynamic competitive environment in a capitalist economy. The course takes the perspective of an individual corporation that wants to: examine both its internal and external environments to determine the range of sustainability issues that it faces; develop strategies for sustainable practices that enhance its competitive position; make a business case to a range of its stakeholders, including owners, for the adoption of those sustainable practices; and understand the principal barriers to the implementation of those practices.

This course aims to promote an understanding, within the context of a capitalist economy, of:

  • the importance to each individual corporate entity of corporate sustainability;
  • the inter-relationship between the environmental, social, and economic aspects of corporate sustainability;
  • key drivers and inhibitors, both external and internal to the corporation, of the environmental and social aspects of corporate sustainability;
  • the roles of social and environmental risk, and product and process innovation, in developing corporate sustainability; and
  • theoretical and practical constraints on the development of a business case for corporate sustainability;
  • and provide an overview of:
  • the principal ‘toolkits' currently used by practitioners to recognise and appropriately resolve environmental and social sustainability issues in business; and
  • current best practice in corporate sustainability.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Identify within the context of economic sustainability, decision-making within a corporation, that relates to evolving natural environmental and social sustainability, and drives pursuit of corporate sustainability;
  2. Evaluate the link between theory, policy and practice for corporate sustainability;
  3. Apply knowledge of ethics, ethical standards and values embedded in business decision-making;
  4. Process information from a wide range of resources and critically analyze for evidence-based decisions;
  5. Mount the business case for sustainability and communicate to a range of stakeholders, including managers, boards and owners for pursuing corporate sustainability;

Research-Led Teaching

Research-led teaching in this course takes place through four processes. Firstly, the content of the course is assembled drawing where appropriate on the latest academic and industry research, along with industry practice, especially as sustainability is an evolving concept. Secondly, student’s will be required to examine and evaluate scholarly research to draw out the important concepts, models, and theory and apply these to contemporary practice. Finally, summative assessment in the course requires the student to undertake independent research. This will involve both primary and secondary research and require the collection, evaluation, and interpretation of quantitative and qualitative data. Finally, my teaching is informed by research on promoting student learning and sustainable outcomes.

  • Seminars will be delivered in a combination streamed live through ZOOM and pre-recorded and made available on Echo360 and Wattle
  • Participation is expected in all classes and assessments

Field Trips

There are no field trips planned.

Additional Course Costs

There are no additional class costs.

Examination Material or equipment

There is no examination.

Required Resources

A 'Course Book' will be provided on Wattle that sets out your weekly readings, questions designed to guide your reading, and other useful resources. All readings and other resources required for this course will be provided via Wattle. There is no required textbook.

Other useful resources include;

Stanwick, Peter. A., and Sarah D. Stanwick (2021) - Corporate Sustainability Leadership. Routledge ISBN: 978-1-351-02498-3 ebook - available through the library

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Seminar - Week 1: Introduction to the course. The role of corporate sustainability Course introduction State of play Defining corporate sustainability Social and environmental pressures
2 Seminar - Week 2: Drivers of a sustainability approach Introduction to stakeholder theory Stakeholder theory Drivers of sustainability for organisations
3 Seminar - Week 3: Foundational issues in Sustainability The use and abuse of nature Ecological economics Ecosystem services The tragedy of the commons
4 Seminar - Week 4: Making the case for corporate sustainability The business case Sustainable business strategy Distributive justice Intergenerational justice
5 Seminar - Week 5: Risk and Managing Social Risk Social risks and pressures How do we perceive risk? Outrage Managing social risk
6 Seminar - Week 6: Managing Environmental Risk Environmental risks and pressures The Precautionary Principle Identifying and managing environmental risk Environmental Impact Assessment Quiz 1 (online following seminar)
7 Seminar - Week 7: Benchmarking & Reporting Sustainability Benchmarking & Reporting Individual Research Project due Monday
8 Seminar - Week 8: Conceptual models for the way forward The “Five Capitals Framework” Natural Capitalism “The Natural Step” LCA Input-output Analysis Shared/Extended Producer Responsibility
9 Seminar - Week 9: Process Innovation Circular Economy Eco-efficiency Eco-effectiveness Resource efficiency Supply chain management
10 Seminar - Week 10: Product Innovation Design for Sustainability (DfS) Product Service Systems Biomimicry Carbon capture and usage “fortune at the bottom of the pyramid”
11 Seminar - Week 11: Sustainable Organisation Strategy New Business & Governance Models New models of Consumption Marketing
12 Seminar - Week 12: Taking stock & looking forward: The future of sustainability & organisations Corporate environmentalism Corporate citizenship Corporate omnipresence The future of the organisation Group Project Due Monday Quiz 2 (online following seminar)

Tutorial Registration

There are no tutorials for this course. All activities will be conducted within the weekly seminar.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Quiz 1 (15%) 15 % * 01/04/2021 1,2
Research Paper (30%) 30 % 19/04/2021 03/05/2021 1,2,3
Major Project (40%) 40 % 24/05/2021 07/05/2021 1,2,3
Quiz 2 (15%) 15 % * 01/07/2021 1,2

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Seminars will be delivered in combination - streamed live or pre-recorded and made available on Echo360 and Wattle

Participation is expected in all classes and assessments


There is no examination for this course.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 15 %
Return of Assessment: 01/04/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Quiz 1 (15%)

Individual assessment

30 Multiple Choice Questions - 45min covering ALL material from readings and activities week 1-6 inclusive

Due: Online during the last hour of Week 6 seminar time.

Return of marks: by end of Week 6

Assessment Task 2

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 19/04/2021
Return of Assessment: 03/05/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Research Paper (30%)

Individual Assessment

Students will select a contemporary issue in corporate sustainability. You will present a research paper of high scholarly quality.

You will summarise the issue and build an argument for why the issue at stake is important. You will then examine relevant academic literature, public policy, and industry reports and publications to understand the issue from an evidence-based perspective. You will make actionable recommendations for business and or public policy.

Students will have a choice of two options. These will be outlined in-class and in the Assignment Brief - (available on Wattle)

The research paper is designed to test critical thinking, analytical, and research skills. Students are expected to draw upon research evidence and theory from scholarly journal articles.

Harvard referencing is required, a guide is available at: https://library.sydney.edu.au/subjects/downloads/citation/Harvard_Complete.pdf

Word limit: 3,000 words.

Assessment brief: Available on Wattle

Rubric: A marking rubric will be available on WATTLE.

Due date: Monday, 19 April 2021 Week 7

Return of marks: within 2 weeks of due date.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 24/05/2021
Return of Assessment: 07/05/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Major Project (40%)

Group Assessment

Working in groups students will undertake an assessment of sustainability strategy as part of the ANU Below Zero program focused on food waste on ANU Acton Campus - for background on this program see link

Groups will be required to collect secondary and primary data, develop a systems model the the food waste system using Vensim (free software), interpret and analyse their findings and compile a detailed strategy document.

Group Formation: Students are expected to self-select into groups within their tutorial group - this process will be coordinated by the tutor, with max group size and total number of groups dependent on course enrolment.

Assessment brief: Available on Wattle

Rubric: A marking rubric will be available on Wattle

Due: Monday, 24 May 2021 Week 12 - submitted via Turnitin link on Wattle

Return of marks: within 2 weeks of due date

Assessment Task 4

Value: 15 %
Return of Assessment: 01/07/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Quiz 2 (15%)

Individual assessment

30 Multiple Choice Questions - 45min covering ALL material from readings and activities week 7-12 inclusive

Due: Online during the last hour of Week 12 seminar time.

Return of marks: Released with final grades on 01 July 2021

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

Assessment items 2 and 3 are to be submitted using Turnitin. Please see the assessment briefs for details.

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission is not permitted for tasks 1 and 4.

Assessment task 2 and 3 - Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item.

All requests for extensions to assessment in RSM courses must be submitted to the RSM School Office with a completed application form and supporting documentation. The RSM Extension Application Form and further information on this process can be found at https://www.rsm.anu.edu.au/education/education-programs/notices-for-students/extension-application-procedure/

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Please refer to the details for each assessment task.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

Unless specified otherwise in the assignment requirements, resubmissions are permitted up until the due date and time, but not allowed afterwards.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information. In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service — including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy. If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
Dr Gary Buttriss

Research Interests

My research is focused on sustainable enterprise and what it means to become a sustainable organisation. This includes innovation in product and services, markets and the organizations business model; consumer behaviour and how we become sustainable and ethical consumers; and how markets and organizations evolve in response to technological, environmental and social forces. My latest research project involves studying the process of Canberra evolving to be a sustainable city.

Dr Gary Buttriss

By Appointment

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions