Academics in Sustainable Commerce | Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics

Academics in Sustainable Commerce

The Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics offer various programs and courses exploring topics of sustainable business and corporate social responsibility. Using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a guiding framework, Lang business students explore how business can create positive impact in the world.


Discover more about Lang's sustainable business programs and courses: 




Undergraduate Programs 

Bachelor of Commerce (B.Comm.)

Lang's B.Comm. program heavily emphasizes themes of business ethics, corporate social responsibility and sustainability. Students explore the true impact that business can have on their local communities, while exploring how to minimize the impact of globalization. The program features 8 specialized majors, which includes core and specialized courses that teach future business leaders to think with "triple bottom line" mentality. Responsible business and sustainability is one of the 5 key learning goals for the program.

Teaching innovations:



Graduate Programs

Traditional graduate programs within Lang include;

  • MSc Marketing and Consumer Studies
  • MSc Tourism and Hospitality
  • MSc Management
  • MA Economics (with finance specialization)
  • PhD Management
  • PhD Economics


Executive Programs

Lang MBA

The Lang MBA program is designed for experienced business leaders who wish to catapult their careers. The program is designed to take pre-existing extensive business knowledge and skills and enhance them even further. Lang MBA students will master key business functions, including operations, communications, leadership and finance, and help build a solid base of knowledge and expertise. The program's three specializations draw upon the University of Guelph's strengths in Food and Agribusiness Management, Hospitality and Tourism Management and Sustainable Commerce.

The program's core courses include:

  • Sustainable Value Creation (BUS*6600)

    Many organizations have redefined their business strategies in line with principles of sustainable value creation for the organization and its stakeholders. If companies hope to succeed in both the short and the long term, a focus on ‘the triple bottom line’ of economic, social and environmental value is now required. Firms are beginning to view sustainable value creation as a competitive strategy in a global market where the old models of economic profit may not address stakeholder expectations.  In addition, there are growing expectations for business transparency and accountability for corporate social responsibility and responsible environmental management and there are increasing numbers of businesses around the world producing voluntary sustainability reports on their social and environmental activities. 

    This course examines the opportunities and challenges for organizations that aspire to engage in sustainable value creation by drawing on insights from corporate social responsibility and sustainabile development and practice. It explores the role of organizational leaders as critical, strategic and integrative thinkers who can navigate the complexity of a continuously evolving corporate landscape, where stakeholder expectations require strategic leadership and socially responsible decision making.  In this course students will critically examine sustainability initiatives and strategic approaches to value creation and will explore the organizational and leadership implications of these innovative frames. 

    This course is designed to provide an introduction to the relevance of sustainability as a strategic framework for driving value creation and to enhance critical thinking skills that will enable students to more effectively identify and formulate strategic sustainability initiatives for organizations.  
  • Strategic Management and Business Game (BUS*6700)

    This course examines the study of business in a global context through a “live case study,” with specific emphasis on the strategic implications of food, hospitality, agribusiness, and sustainable commerce. This integrative course draws together the conceptual theories and models of the graduate program core. 

  • Financial Management (BUS*6200)

    This course takes the viewpoint of an senior financial official, focusing on cash management, accounts receivable, inventories and capital assets and sourcing of funds through debt and equity. Business decision impacts on employees and customers, society and community, government regulations, and the environment are considered,
  • Financial and Managerial Accounting (BUS*6180)

    This course emphasizes the gathering and use of financial information to facilitate effective financial and management decisions by managers to contribute towards overall corporate vision and exercise fiscal responsibility towards overall corporate results and governance. This course takes an accounting information user rather than supplier perspective.
  • Research Methods for Managers (BUS*6150)

    In this course, students learn to formulate a research problem and to select and use appropriate quantitative and qualitative techniques for the collection and analysis of relevant data. The course also covers ethical issues and responsibilities in research.
  • Foundations of Human Resource Management (BUS*6140)

    This course examines essential strategic and operational human resource management functions. Topics covered include the legal context, attracting, acquiring and building human capital, employee empowerment, engagement, and rights, globalization of HR, health and safety, labour relations, and legal compliance, in a variety of organizational settings.
  • Operations Management (BUS*6790)

This course delves into key decisions and techniques used to provide a good or service and deliver customer value in today’s global environment. The focus is on modeling service and product delivery systems with emphasis on managerial problems in hospitality, tourism, food and agribusiness organizations.

  • Foundations of Leadership (BUS*6110)

This course will enhance students' interpersonal skills, expand their knowledge and understanding of the theory and research behind leadership and leader development. Leadership issues such as ethical decision-making, engagement, toxic leadership, and the impact of effective team management and collaboration in the organization are explored.

Lang MBA in Sustainable Commerce

The sustainable commerce specialization within the MBA program is designed for working professionals to gain a better understanding of sustainability and corporate social responsibility, and how they can be integrated into modern organizations and business practices. As one of the three specializations in the program, students enrolled in the sustainable commerce MBA are required to complete a mixture of the core courses (listed above) and specialized courses.

Courses emphasizing sustainability include:

  • Business Practices for Sustainability (BUS*6300)

    This course focuses on exploring critical managerial and strategic issues related to sustainability and aims to introduce students to emerging concepts linking organizational strategies and sustainability principles. It explores how managers can integrate consideration of the environment and society into business strategies and practices for competitive advantage and create environmental, social and economic value. Many businesses are striving to improve their social and environmental performance as well as their economic performance and are driven to apply sustainability strategies and principles into their strategic action, and are increasingly applying strategic management tools to incorporate considerations of sustainability into decision-making and operations. While some businesses incorporate sustainable practices due to an ethical conviction to do well for society and the environment, most are motivated to address pressures from stakeholders such as regulators, shareholders, customers, communities and competitors, and to exploit knowledge and experience for long term competitive advantage. Businesses and their leaders are addressing sustainability generally for reputational reasons, to cut their cost and for sustained competitive advantage. Industries are also recognizing the need to become sustainable to respond to the global environment and the changing needs of their constituents.

    This course aims to introduce students to sustainability topics to increase their knowledge of strategies related to corporate sustainability and business practices to align the corporation with sustainable commerce.


  • Governance for Sustainability (BUS*6500)

    This course introduces MBA students to the rise of environmentalism and state-led environmental management, and the more recent emergence of environmental governance as made evident by the growing authority of non-state actors (e.g., ENGOs, business associations, etc.) and the use of new mechanisms of management (e.g., voluntary standards, third party certification, etc.). These core topics are presented as both opportunities and challenges for private firms such as climate-related disasters and fisheries decline. Students will critically evaluate past and contemporary environmentalism, and approaches to environmental governance and creatively conceive of alternative governance approaches that are consistent with the interests of sustainable commerce. This course provides students with an opportunity to conceptualize environmental issues, various governance strategies and the competing agendas that seek to address them.
  • Marketing Strategy (BUS*6850)

    An advanced course in marketing and consumption, students will explore topics including marketing theories, models, and specific subsets of marketing such as pricing, consumer and industrial-buyer behaviour, distribution, services, and service-delivery concepts. Students will be expected to identify and prioritize strategic marketing challenges and objectives and understand the importance of market intelligence and core competencies of the organization to develop a successful marketing strategy, recommend and justify competitive marketing strategies, design and critique marketing tactics that are consistent with an organization’s marketing strategy. As marketing principles are not unique to any industry, students enrolled in sustainable commerce, agribusiness & hospitality, food and tourism will participate in the same concept discussions and work on same case studies.
    This course has a final culminating project which addresses the gap that often exists between a company’s “sustainability vision” and the actual or true organizational culture of the company. Most companies recognize the need to have a vision centered around sustainability, but few actually embed it in their organization. For this project, students are required to operationalize the sustainable vision of a major soda distributor for “zero waste by 2030” in their marketing plan. Students are asked to make recommendations on how the company can ‘live’ their sustainable vision. 
  • Global Business Today (BUS*6450 - pass by course option)

    This course surveys the key issues related to doing business internationally including the cultural context for global business, cross border trade and investment, ethics, the global monetary system, foreign exchange challenges and effectively competing in the global environment.

    This course is designed to provide MBA students with a survey of the many challenges and opportunities currently being faced when operating within the global marketplace. Students are exposed to a variety of different theories and strategies for successfully navigating many of the unique situations prevalent in the international business environment and will both grow their knowledge of operations in international markets. This course will have students exploring topics, including how businesses assess intellectual property, consumer protection, and product liability issues when embarking on foreign ventures. Students are expected to fully comprehend and explain the evolution of globalization; describe key areas of theoretical and practical applications involved in global business today, including country differences and ethics in international business; explain the value in understanding different cultural models and their impact on organizational success; and determine the best strategies for competing in the global marketplace.

  • Canadian Business Law (BUS*6400 - pass by course option)
    Businesses are constantly faced with legal issues, from negotiating contracts, employment relationships, and corporate governance issues. This course will introduce students to Canadian business law and provides an understanding of legal principals as they apply to business organizations. After reviewing basic foundational concepts and sources of law in Canada, we will undertake a more in-depth review of practical legal issues and solutions that arise in various business environments. Students explore topics such as law, business and society, and the link of law to ethics, morals and business ethics, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the nature and responsibilities of a Corporation. Students get an opportunity to dig into issues related to corporate governance and role and duties of directors and officers, by exploring the case of an automobile manufacturer’s emissions cheating scandal and the lessons learned for corporate governance.


View full MBA course calendar


Updated 6/7/2018


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