Sustainable Business: Strategy & Innovation

Freie Universität Berlin

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Sustainable Business: Strategy & Innovation

  • Host University

    Freie Universität Berlin

  • Location

    Berlin, Germany

  • Area of Study

    Environmental Sustainability

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    - Students should be able to speak and read English at the upper intermediate level (B2) or higher.

    - Basic interest and curiosity in sustainability and in getting to know or working with businesses to improve the world.

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Course description

    Climate change, environmental pollution, waste of resources and the decline of biodiversity clearly show mankind that processes of change are necessary. On a policy level, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris climate agreement and the Green New Deal are setting the stage, at the corporate level, standards such as environmental social and governance (ESG) reporting, supply chain integrity and voluntary certification, and diversity are critical to long-term business success.

    How are companies innovating towards more sustainability today? What are the criteria, the success factors and the strategic approaches to tackle consumer, policy, employee and societal demand for more sustainability?

    This course will look at current sustainability frameworks, sustainable companies and sustainable innovation. The participants will get to know and to apply collaborative tools to be better prepared for a business environment. One focus will be on the development of a sustainable business model or project, based on which we will learn and try out modern methods such as the Sustainable Business Canvas, Design Thinking, Effectuation and the Blue Ocean Strategy.

    Student profile

    Students interested in evaluating and creating business-related sustainability strategies that are relevant for future business development and leadership positions, entrepreneurs, sustainability consultants, NGO- and policy-related careers, and policy in general and public debates.

    Course requirements

    1. Regular attendance and active participation in class.
    2. Group presentation in class (about 30 minutes) on a project of the course.
    3. Final Exam with questions on the course project and the course contents.


    • 30% - Class Participation
    • 40% - Presentation (learning groups)
    • 30% - Exam

    - Class Participation means regular, active participation.

    - The presentation will be a presentation on a project of the course students will prepare in a small learning group. It will provide a useful opportunity for cohort cooperation and feedback. The final exam will include questions on the course project and the course contents.


    A digital course reader will be provided.

    • Steffen, W., Richardson, K., Rockström, J., et al. (2015). Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet. Science, 347(6223), 736–746.
    • Raworth, K. (2012). A safe and just space for humanity: Can we live within the doughnut? Oxfam Discussion Papers. Oxford: Oxfam.
    • Schoneveld, G. (2020) Sustainable business models for inclusive growth: Towards a conceptual foundation of inclusive business, Journal of Cleaner Production Volume 277, 20 December 2020, 124062
    • Geissdoerfer M et al., (2020), Circular business models: A review, Journal of Cleaner Production Volume 277, 20 December 2020, 123741
    • Sarasvathy, S. D. (2001). Causation and Effectuation: Toward A Theoretical Shift from Economic Inevitability to Entrepreneurial Contingency. The Academy of Management Review 26(2).

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits are converted to semester credits/quarter units differently among U.S. universities. Students should confirm the conversion scale used at their home university when determining credit transfer.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations


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