University of Pisa
Department of Economics and Management
Master of Science in Economics (joint with S S Sant’Anna)
Business and Society (BS)
Semester II - 2020-2021
Link to Course

Course Name and Number:
332PP: Business and Society. BS

General course idea:
Since we are facing unprecedented sustainability challenges, several calls have been made to rethink or re-imagine capitalism. Contemporary world complexities include climate change, tax avoidance, pandemics, pollution, modern slavery, economic and social inequalities, sustainability challenges at large. This course's key aim is to constitute a "wakening call" for students on the need to address grand sustainability challenges in their future jobs as regulators, policy makers, analysts, managers etc.

The teaching style is topic-based, case-based, participatory and project oriented. Students taking this course should not see themselves as mere "absorbers" of codified concepts, but as living and thinking individuals, who will have to take complex business decisions and who are expected to learn, discuss and face the paradoxes and tensions that are inherent when business decisions have to be taken in highly uncertain and risky environments like the ones we are currently living in.

Required Readings:
All materials will be available on the E-learning course website.
Participants will be expected to keep abreast of contemporary developments in corporate social and environmental responsibilities, business and human rights, sustainability challenges by reading the relevant press (e.g. The Economist, Forbes, Fortune, Business Week, Foreign Affairs) and other newspapers or journals.

Course Description:
Core topics
• Shareholder value maximization vs. stakeholder theory
• Corporate wrongdoing and corporate social responsibility
• New business models for a more responsible capitalism
• Business and human rights

Special topics
• Economic inequality and tax evasion
• Finance and climate change/Responsible Investing
• Migrants and modern slavery
• Food waste
• Responsible innovation and circular economy
• EU Green Deal for a toxic free environment
• Global value chains and responsible/sustainable sourcing (e.g. in connection with conflict minerals in the ICT industry, agro-food value chains, textile and footwear).

Instructional Method:
The lectures are normally organized as follows:
• Wednesdays are full time teaching. Wednesdays’ lectures are meant to provide grounding in the core topics.
• Fridays are used to assess students’ progress (via online tests, questions and answers to students, and other activities), discuss students’ essays and essay writing guidelines, and to let student present their own assignments.

In more general terms, the class will be conducted as a seminar. On Fridays (and occasionally on the other days too), selected students are expected to take an active role in leading discussion and providing critical commentary. Each class will involve discussion and dialogue as major elements in the learning strategy. Students may be asked to prepare for the class, by reading assigned materials in advance. Occasionally, the course will host invited speakers from the academia or the practitioners’ world.

Timetable and organization of lectures:
Class sessions are online in a dedicated channel (Link to Course)
Wednesdays 14:00-15:30
Fridays 17:30: 19:10
For more info check here:
Office Hours: Due to Covid-19, physical meetings should be avoided. Consult me on Fridays.

Learning Assessments:
The course includes a combination of assessments, which are weighted to give a final mark.

Reading response presentation: 25%
Students individually or in pairs will be assigned a reading and will have the task of preparing a presentation on it. Presentations are not meant to repeat exactly the contents of the reading but rather offer a critical synthesis in which the student: 1) highlights the main points and examples in an organized manner, 2) clarifies key terms/concepts/ideas, and 3) formulates interesting points for debate. Presentations will take place during the synchronized class, should not exceed 30 minutes, and should be accompanied by a power point presentation or a handout. Each student will be graded individually.
Class participation: 10%
Students are required to participate verbally in class, and in completing tasks set in class, as the topics lend themselves to class discussions. Students will be graded on overall class participation (verbal contributions in class, and written contributions to online discussions and other tasks set in class) during the semester, but not on the accuracy of expressed views. The point is to engage, even if your information proves to be in error or if your views meet opposition in the discussion.
Essay* 65%
This is an individual assessment. Each student will be given a question/topic to answer/elaborate based on the course content and additional materials made available through E-learning.*

Each Friday, students will receive training about how to write their essays and, also, they are expected to discuss progress on their assigned topic with the other students during class hours (see schedule below). All students are expected to provide feedback. A “critical friend” is assigned to each essay: a critical friend is a selected student (one for each essay) that will provide qualified feedback on the essay as it develops.

Essays’ timetable (any modification to this schedule, will be duly communicated)
Friday 12th March: Each student communicates via email (exclusively by writing to: the TOPIC of their essays. Topics needs to be approved and need to be related with at least one of the Special Topics.
Wed 25th March: Each student submits for approval to (a) a list of 10 to 15 key references which are to be used to ground discussion in the essay and (b) a research design of the proposed essay’s empirical work (PROPOSAL).
Friday 27th March. Students receive approval or comments for revision on the PROPOSAL.
Friday 16th April. Students present their literature review and proposed research questions. “Critical friends” provide feedback.
Friday 30th April and Friday 7th May: Students present their proposed methodology and preliminary results of their empirical analyses. “Critical friends” provide feedback.
Friday 14th May. Pitch day. Students are given 5 minutes each to present the key insights of their essays (key results, important insights, issues we should not forget, lessons that we will remember after the course ends).

Final drafts of the essays can be submitted between 10 and 5 days prior to each exam date. It is highly recommended to take the exam within a solar year since the end of the lectures. No exceptions in exam modalities for exchange students or students from other degree courses who are expected to align with the course schedule and rules. Students not attending class regularly, should write to to explain the reasons for their absence and agree on an ad hoc exam modality.

Additional instructions on Essays:
Essays should be written in Times New Roman 12, single space and submitted in PDF. Margins can be standard. Each essay should follow the guidelines given during the course, but at minimum they should include:
A frontpage including: TITLE, NAME OF STUDENT and MATRICOLA, ACADEMIC YEAR, EMAIL. An introduction (called Introduction), a theoretical section (called Theory or Conceptual Framework), a methodological/data section (called Methodology) and an empirical evidence section (called Empirical Results), a conclusive/discussion section (called Conclusions), followed by a list of references in alphabetical order (References) and, if necessary, an Appendix. Tables and Figures can be embedded in the main text and numbered sequentially. Pages MUST be numbered. Essays’ length is expected to be between 6,000 and 8,000 words including tables, figures and references (but excluding Appendixes).

Citations to the relevant sources:
All sources must be cited, including not only print books and scholarly articles, but anything you borrow to craft your assignment. This includes primary sources, such as letters, diaries, documents, music, and films. It includes online sources, secondary sources, such as online books, online articles, websites, instructor’s lectures, and open source websites with no identifiable author, like Wikipedia. If you didn’t write it (or create it), cite it.
You can choose your citation style (APA is the recommended one), the one important point is that once you have chosen your style you should be consistent and do not mix styles. To know more about citation styles consult here:
See also this standard approach for citations as an example.
For more insights about how to avoid plagiarism see here:
Academic Integrity:
The Code of Ethics of the University of Pisa addresses cheating, fabrication of submitted work, plagiarism, handing in work completed for another course without the instructor’s approval, and other forms of dishonesty. Students are advised that all their submitted essays or reports will be checked for plagiarism through a dedicated software.

See PDF file attached.