Sustainable Entrepreneurship

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Sustainable Entrepreneurship

  • Host University

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • Location

    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • Area of Study

    Entrepreneurship, Environmental Sustainability

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • 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

  • ECTS Credits

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

    Course Objective

    L1 Academic and Research Skills: Students are able to understand how entrepreneurship can contribute to sustainable development and are able to analyze sustainable business opportunities and sustainable business models.

    L2 Bridging theory and practice: Students gain a basic understanding of implementing sustainability considerations into the entrepreneurial process, and are able to translate this knowledge into the development of a sustainable business model for a startup or a SME.

    L3 Social Skills: Students are able to work in a small team and further develop their communication skills by orally presenting their sustainable business model.

    L4 Broadening your Horizon: Students are able to consider environmental implications of a business model and understand how entrepreneurship can contribute to sustainable development.

    L5 Self-Awareness: Students are able to critically reflect on their individual and team performance during the course, and the sustainable impact they could make as an entrepreneur.

    Course Content

    This course inspires and enables students to become “sustainable changemakers” by providing them academic knowledge and practical tools for understanding how entrepreneurship can contribute towards sustainable development. It draws on a rapidly emerging body of research and business cases on sustainable entrepreneurship that move beyond viewing entrepreneurship as merely oriented at profit-maximization towards an understanding of entrepreneurship as a vehicle for tackling the world’s existential sustainability threats. Indeed, solving the sustainability challenges we are confronted with in the 21st century (as captured by the UN Sustainable Development Goals) requires an ongoing stream of new, sustainable entrepreneurial initiatives. In this course, students will learn about the challenges and opportunities of sustainable entrepreneurship from different angles, including both (1) startup entrepreneurs, who launch new firms that aim to tackle a particular sustainability problem; and (2) small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that already have an established business model, but often struggle to innovate these models into a more sustainable design that allows for balancing economic, social and environmental sustainability. Specifically, students will learn about how market imperfections create new sustainable business opportunities and are taught techniques and methods for evaluating sustainable business opportunities, designing holistic sustainable business models, and presenting professionally and convincingly to different audiences.

    The course combines interactive lectures and practical assignments that challenge students to consider how they can personally identify and offer new and creative insights into solving sustainable development challenges through entrepreneurial practices. To appreciate sustainable entrepreneurship in practice, examples and case studies from selected industries (e.g., fashion and packaging) will be interwoven throughout the course. Furthermore, within the setting of a course group project, students will be offered a personalized learning experience in which they can apply and deepen their knowledge of sustainable entrepreneurship in different ways. They can work on developing their own sustainable business ventures or act as consultants for an existing SME. In both cases they are tasked with creatively exploring various ways how the company can design a winning sustainable business model.

    Additional Information Teaching Methods

    Lectures (2 hours weekly) and tutorials (4 hours weekly)

    Method of Assessment

    Assessment is based upon individual and group assignments.


    Selection of articles and cases to be announced on canvas

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Some courses may require additional fees.


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