Course Profile: “Corporate Social Responsibility” – Providing Real Companies with Real Solutions

They are students seeking careers in finance and accounting, in the public and private realms, in large and small companies; but they share an understanding that corporate social responsibility is a business necessity.

 The Graduate School of Management’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) course, taught by GSOM’s Executive in Residence professor Will O’Brien, provides an overview of CSR and explores different facets of how the world’s most well-known corporations impact their communities and the environment. Topics covered include human rights, labor practices, consumer issues, and the environment.

 Students, however, benefit most by their hands-on work with local, regional, and sometimes national companies, with whom they partner to create actual CSR plans. Some examples from last semester include:

  • assisting a Central Massachusetts restaurant to become more socially responsible, including formalizing plans for a new recycling program and a more efficient heating system to reduce costs and emissions.
  • working with a national clothing retailer to help the company better understand and implement fair labor law and practices.
  • helping a growing Maine construction company to develop corporate social responsibility policies where none currently exist.

Students are also exposed to some excellent guest speakers as part of the course. Four practitioners in CSR visited last semester, including a CSR executive from National Grid headquarters in the United Kingdom.

 “The course builds on the required MBA course, ‘Business in Society’ by delving deeply into social responsibility for corporations, non-profits and governmental agencies,” professor O’Brien explains. “Students enjoy working with actual companies to help them find solutions to real problems.”