Syllabus | Sustainable Business Operations Saint Louis University

Sustainable Business Operations | DSCI 493/593
Saint Louis University | John Cook School of Business | Spring, 2012

Download the DSCI 493/593 Syllabus


Dr. Mark Ferris
Department of Decision Sciences and ITM
DS-457: 977-3809
Office Hours:  Wednesdays 5 to 6 pm I am also available by email, but give me at least 24 hours to respond, although I may be able to respond sooner.

Readings will be assigned throughout the semester. This is a “Living Syllabus.” The problem is not too little information, but too much. As the semester goes along we will be jointly evaluating the readings and adding some and subtracting others. This will be part of the class participation component. I have made an initial list of readings and resources that is by no means final. One of the things that I hope to construct is a set of resources  that you can be used in the future.

Course Objectives and Description
Green business operations and sustainability are becoming increasingly important in the US and global economy as companies attempt to grapple with competing pressures in order to deliver goods and services in an environment where scarce natural and energy resources, pollution regulations, population growth and climate change are driving corporate decision-making. Thos businesses who adapt to this new environment will be better positioned to succeed in the global economy where demand for “green” products is increasing exponentially. Environment and energy constraints are becoming increasingly in company’s efforts to manage their operations here and abroad. In addition, social responsibility has become the watchword in many a corporate boardroom. In as much as companies can lower their costs relative to their competitors and differentiate their products and services the chances of business success will increase greatly. This course is designed as a survey of green business operating principles, sustainability, and social responsibility issues that will impact decision-making of the business leaders of the future.

Homework in the form of two-three page papers throughout the semester will be assigned. There are expectations for strong academic/business writing quality.g>

Exams are open book and open note. Exams build on previous material. There is a midterm and a final. The final exam is comprehensive.

Final Project
The final project will involve a short written paper along with a short in-class presentation. Requirements and topics will be covered during the first third of the class in order to give students a chance to prepare.
Computing your final grade for the course will be determined as follows:
Midterm          30%
Final            35%
Participation    05%
Homework         20%
Final Project    10%

Learning Objectives

  • Students shall be able to explain what a theory means.
  • Students shall be able to summarize the issues with regard to the current state of the discussion regarding climate change.
  • Students shall be able to understand and explain in plain language the “Tragedy of the Commons.”
  • Students shall be able to list and explain four motivations for businesses to engage in sustainable business operations.
  • Students shall be able to list and explain three problems with regard to the measurement of sustainable operations.
  • Students shall be able to summarize the influence of Environmental NGO’s on the sustainability movement.
  • Students shall be able to identify the characteristics of a “green” supply chain
  • Students shall be able to summarize the role that the LEED system plays in sustainability in the built environment.
  • Students shall be able to write a short report on an assigned sustainability topic and make a cogent presentation to the entire class.

Academic Integrity
It is the policy of the John Cook School of Business at Saint Louis University that the “Giving and Receiving of unauthorized assistance on any graded exercise constitutes academic dishonesty and may result in grade reductions and/or probation, suspension, or

Attendance and Participation
Class attendance is important for understanding course material and will be recorded. Be ready to give a considered answer when called upon as class participation plays an integral role in creating an enhanced learning environment. In order to engage in active learning, small group problem solving will be a regularly scheduled part of class.

Classroom Environment
Cell phones need to be turned off . Notebook computers are to be used for course related purposes only. If you need to leave early or if you can’t make class please notify me ahead of time. Thanks for your cooperation.

Academic Accommodations
Students who believe that, due to the impact of a disability, they may need academic accommodations in order to meet the requirements of this, or any other class at Saint Louis University are encouraged to contact the Disability Services office at 977-8885 or should visit the Busch Student Center, Suite 331 (Student Success Center). Confidentiality will be observed in all inquiries.

Schedule by Week with Topics, Readings, and Resources

Week 1: Introduction & Overview

Kuhn, Thomas S. (1996) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Third Ed. University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London. (Chapters 1&2: Introduction a Role for History, The Route to Normal Science)

Senge, Peter (2008) The Necessary Revolution: Working Together to Create a Sustainable World, Broadway Books, NY, NY. (Chapter 8: Risks and Opportunities: The Business Rationale for Sustainability)

Edwards, Andres R. (2005) The Sustainability Revolution: Portrait of a Paradigm Shift, New Society Publishers, BC, Canada. (Chapters 1&3: The Birth of Sustainablity, Sustainability and Commerce)

Week 2: Climate Change Science: Theory and Controversy

Oreskes, Naomi (2004) “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change,” Science, Vol. 306, No. 5702, p. 1686., ‘The Global Warming Skeptics vs. Scientific Consensus,” Website address:

Coyne, Jerry (2009) Why Evolution is True, Penguin Books, London. (Chapters  Intro,1&2: Introduction, What is Evolution? Written in the Rocks)

Pew Center on Global Climate Change (2011) “Climate Change 101: Understanding and Responding to Global Climate Change,” Alexandria, VA.

Week 3: Economic Forces and Sustainability

Hardin, Garrett (1968) “The Tragedy of the Commons,” Science, Vol. 162, pp. 1243-1248.

Koomey, Jonathon, and Krause, Florentine (1997) Introduction to Environmental Externality Costs, CRC Handbook on Energy Efficiency, CRC Press, Inc, FL.

Elkington, John (1997) Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business, Capstone Publishing Ltd. Oxford, UK.

Hawken, Paul (1993) The Ecology of Commerce, Collins Business, New York, NY. (Chapters 1, 2, 3)

Week 4: Business Motivations for Sustainable Operations

Esty, Daniel and Winston, Andrew S. (2006) From Green to Gold, Yale University Press, New Haven and London. (Chapters 1&2: Eco-Advantage, Natural Drivers of the Green Wave)

Hart, Stewart L. (1997) “Beyond Greening: Strategies for a Sustainable World,” Harvard Business Review, January-February, Reprint 97105, Harvard School Press, Boston.

Packard, Kimberly O’Neill and Reinhardt, Forest (2000) “What Every Executive Needs to Know About Global Warming,” Harvard Business Review, July-August, Reprint R00409, Harvard School Press, Boston.

Week 5: Measurement Issues in Sustainability (ask Weimin)

Box, George (June, 1999) “Statistics as a Catalyst to Learning by Scientific Method Part II-Discussion, Report No. 172, Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement, University of Wisconsin. Pp3-5.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, “Carbon Emissions Measurement and Verification: What you need to know.”

Gould,  Stephen Jay, “The Median is not the Message.” Harvard University.

Tufte, Edward (2006) Beautiful Evidence, Graphics Press LLC, Cheshire, Connecticut

Desvaux, Martin (2007) “The Sustainability of Human Populations,” Significance: Statistics Making Sense, September, Vol. 4, Issue 3, Royal Statistical Society, UK.

Smaje, Chris (2011) “The Ungreen City  or the Polluting Countryside,” Significance: Statistics Making Sense, June, Vol. 8, Issue 2, Royal Statistical Society. UK.

Week 6: The History and Role of Environmental NGO’s

Carson, Rachel (1962) Silent Spring, Houghton Mifflin, NY, NY.

Leopold, Aldo (1949) A Sand County Almanac, Oxford University Press, UK.

Reinhardt, Forrest (2003) “Environmental Defense,” Harvard Business School Case, 793-037.

WalMart works with Environmental Defense Fund.

Week 7: International Actors: United Nations, European Union, and China

D. Gallagher, (2010) The UN Global Compact Environmental Stewardship Strategy, Research Report and Recommendations prepared for the United Nations Global Compact Leaders Summit, New York City, June 24-25, 2010.

Pew Center for Global Climate Change, (2011) “Climate Change 101: International Action.” Alexandria Virginia.

EU Sustainable Development Strategy (2009)

Pollution in China: Man-Made and Visible in Space (2012) February 1. The Economist.


Week 8: The Built Environment (LEED)

Doughtery, Brooks (2010) “The Role of LEED Building Rating System in Higher Education: Recent Trends and Status,” United States Green Building Council. (USGBC).

The New Sustainable Frontier: Principles of Sustainable Development (2009) U.S. General Services Administration.

Week 9: Green Supply Chains

Kleindorfer, Paul R., Singhal, Kalyan, Wassenhove, (2005) “Sustainable Operations Management,” Production and Operations Management, Winter, Vol. 14, Issue 4, pg 482.

WalMart our Seven Areas of Focus, The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)

Blanco, Edgar and Sheffi, Yossi (2010) “Building on Supply Chains that Deliver on the Green Promise,” Harvard Business Review, October. Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston.

Week 10: Business Operations: Recycling, Reuse, Waste

Lehrer, Justin (2011) “7 Success Stories from the Journey to Zero Waste,”

Pagell, Mark, Murphy, Nagesh, and Wu, Zhoahui (2007) The Supply Chain Implications of Recycling, Business Horizons, Vol. 50, pp. 133-143.

U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, Wastes Home (Resource Center)

Week 11: Power Generation/Public Utilities/Renewables

EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute) (2005) “Electricity, the Economy, and Environmental Sustainability,” Palo Alto, CA.

U. S. Department of Energy – Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (Resource Center)

Week 12: Student Presentations

Week 13: Summary and Conclusions

Final Exam Time

Wednesday, May 9, 6:30-8:30.

I am looking forward to the upcoming course. Your participation will either make or break the course. The breadth of this topic is much too wide to attempt to cover the entire field of sustainable business operations in one class. What immediately becomes clear is that it is both a multi-faceted and multi-disciplined field. It combines science, economics, policy and business. The purpose of this class is to give students a high-level understanding of the role and motivation that sustainability plays in business operations. Based on this understanding the student will be able to find the relevant resources to work and study in their particular area of interest