Business and industry are the driving force of contemporary society. Business has provided countless benefits to humankind, but those benefits also include challenges and costs. Unfettered consumerism and capitalism threaten the environment, human health, and the fair distribution of natural resources and wealth. Businesses possess the resources and abilities to implement solutions and take the necessary steps to make life on Earth more sustainable. However, business leaders continue to make headlines globally for managing their organizations and our planet’s resources in unethical ways. Ethical business leadership is needed, and business leaders need access to tools and frameworks to guide their decision-making processes. This course will assist business employees and managers in understanding their role in contributing to a more sustainable society.
The Earth Charter is a document with 16 ethical principles to foster sustainable development. The principles and pillars of the Earth Charter provide a practical and strong foundation upon which business can build on for socially and environmentally responsible profitability.
This course will equip participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to take business ethics and sustainability practices to higher levels by using the Earth Charter (EC) as a framework. This course helps participants develop a broad approach to sustainability and make the EC Principles actionable within business contexts.
By introducing business stakeholders to ethics and sustainability theory and practices, the course intends to help participants be prepared to develop sustainable and inclusive business in an era of uncertainty and disruption. This course offers a space to learn about the nexus between the Sustainable Development Goals, the Earth Charter, and business sustainability.
This experience seeks to build a pool of experts and consultants with a systemic and ethical approach to business ethics and sustainability, capable of providing quality support and guidance to businesses that seek to incorporate ethics and sustainability into their development and planning process. It will be an opportunity to enhance the participant’s ethical leadership skills.
Upon completion of this course, learners will:
- Understand the history, purpose, and significance of the Earth Charter.
- Develop knowledge and deepen understanding of the business role and responsibility in sustainable development through the lenses of Earth Charter and related documents.
- Read and assess business scenario(s) based on various frameworks and worldviews and define decision-making criteria coherent to this vision.
- Use the Earth Charter as a tool to make ethical and sustainable decisions in the business development and planning processes.
- Reflect upon diverse scenarios of ethical and unethical leadership.
The Earth Charter Business Course is designed for business owners and managers at every level of business, as well as consultants, academics, and regulators within business and industry, who are interested in:
- Taking a bold step in bringing a broad vision of ethics and sustainability to their business or industry.
- Expanding their knowledge and skills to implement ethical and sustainable business practices with a comprehensive approach.
- Learning and applying the Earth Charter in their local contexts and daily work.
- Turning theories and best practices of ethical and sustainable business into actionable strategies.
Course format and planning
The Earth Charter Business Course is an online, facilitated course.
Participants are introduced to the content through sessions that include videos, articles, live webinars, and discussion forums. In each session, participants are expected to actively participate in dialogue forums to share perspectives and opinions on the session’s topic and to complete assignments.
At the end of the course, participants will submit a written report and a 5-minute video summary of their final project. This course will allow interaction between participants, encouraging them to build connections and collaborate with each other.
- The ethical challenges business leaders face in the 21st century
- The role and responsibility of business in social and environmental justice
- The vision of sustainability articulated in the Earth Charter and its relevance to Business
- Ethics and the Sustainable Development Goals (with a special focus on Goals 8: Decent work and economic growth, and 12: Responsible consumption and production)
- Assessing ethical sustainability performance of business and industry
Schedule and Session Topics
Introductory live webinar
Session 2: Why should business care for the well-being of people and planet?
Course reflection webinar
Session 3: The Earth Charter Sustainability vision and its practical application in business
Session 4: Assessment and analysis of business ethics and sustainability
Session 5: Ethical worldviews, benchmarks, and approaches
Course reflection webinar
Work on final project (no course session)
Submit final project report and present report summary in a live webinar
This course was developed under the framework of the UNESCO Chair in Education for Sustainable Development with the Earth Charter, coordinated by the Earth Charter Center for Education. The Chair is a collaborative effort between UNESCO, Earth Charter International, and the University for Peace to develop educational programmes and research activities related to education, sustainability, and ethics using the Earth Charter as a fundamental reference.
Earth Charter Center for Education for Sustainable Development
The Earth Charter Center for Education for Sustainable Development, established by Earth Charter International, has a mission to “promote the transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework that includes respect and care of the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace,” with a special focus on education.
The Center offers a variety of executive, formative, and educational programmes in leadership for sustainable development, for policy makers, education professionals, youth, and the general public. Research projects are specially developed in partnerships with institutions of national and global relevance.
Dr. Chris Beehner
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Dr. Chris Beehner is a business professor at Seminole State College of Florida, and has developed and taught courses for several colleges and universities. Prior to joining academia, Dr. Beehner was employed in the supply chain management industry, and he has also held nonprofit leadership roles. He has published, presented, and served as a panelist on workplace spirituality, sustainable business, and leadership topics. He is a community fellow at the University of Central Florida Center for Global Economic and Environmental Opportunity, where he collaborates with representatives from academia, industry, government, and nonprofits to discover the sustainable solutions necessary to attain the Sustainable Development Goals.