Sustainability in Context

Module description

One of the educational aims of the One Planet MBA is to enable you to gain an understanding of the challenges facing businesses and managers in different contexts.  In particular, it is important that ‘planet-minded’ managers of the future understand the implications of different economic, political, social and ecological environments on sustainability strategies and solutions.  There are immense benefits to be achieved by taking you out of the UK context and studying for a short period in a different country.  This module will provide the opportunity to explore business and sustainability in a contrasting economy.  The learning will take place through formal lectures from Exeter faculty, local faculty and guest speakers, and through direct observation and experiential learning in local businesses and local urban and rural contexts.


Internationalisation: This module will be taught and located in an emerging or fast-growing economy, and therefore directly engages you with the study of practice in a different country context.

External Engagement: Lectures, seminars and practical work will include significant input from local businesses, social organisations and practitioners. 

Employability: You will deal with complex cross-cultural issues, undertake independent research and demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems. 

Sustainability: The content directly addresses issues of sustainability.  

Full module specification

Module title:Sustainability in Context
Module code:MBAM833
Module level:M
Academic year:2014/5
Module lecturers:
  • Dr Sally Jeanrenaud - Convenor
Module credit:12
ECTS value:






Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 3:

5 days

Module aims

The overall aim of the module is for you to engage with the complexities of a contrasting economic, political, social, cultural and ecological system, so that you may develop a critical understanding of how different contexts can impact on sustainability priorities for businesses and the different types of solution needed. 

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. develop a critical awareness of the complexities of the economic, political, social, cultural and ecological environment in Country X, and the importance of context when interpreting business strategies
  • 2. develop a critical understanding of the unique sustainability challenges that are facing businesses in Country X, and how these are being prioritised and managed.
  • 3. critically evaluate the role that businesses and social organisations can play in supporting communities and social change, particularly at the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP).
  • 4. draw lessons from sustainability practice in Country X that may be offer ideas and solutions for new practices in other countries.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 1. develop sensitivity to cultural differences, diversity and ethical dilemmas.
  • 2. critically understand the implications of engaging in international business.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 1. develop skills in business engagement and consulting.
  • 2. demonstrate effective written and oral communication skills.
  • 3. demonstrate cognitive skills of critical and reflective thinking
  • 4. work effectively as part of multi-cultural groups in complex, uncertain and unfamiliar contexts

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities18Lectures and seminars
Experiential Learning12Visits to companies (3)
Guided Independent Study90Reading, research, writing

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Reflective presentation (Pairs)10 minutes1-2Oral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Individual Assignment753500 words1-6, 8-9Written feedback
Group presentation (5/6 per group)2520 minutes3, 4, 7-10Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Assessment and PresentationSingle assignment1-106 weeks from briefing

Re-assessment notes

The new assignment will have a brief which is materially different to the original assignment.

Syllabus plan

The module will consist of three days (24 hours) of classroom-based teaching and learning that will introduce issues formally and through critical debate. An additional two days of experiential learning will be organised, involving visits to local companies, organisations and locations that will allow you to observe some of the business and sustainability challenges in practice.    A mini-consulting project will be included where you will engage with a local business or social organisation to explore and make recommendations to address a sustainability challenge. The approach to teaching and learning will include extensive reflection on the differences observed in managing and leading, and personal reflection through ‘friendly consulting’.



Historical and recent developments in the economic and political environment.

Developments in, and characteristics of, the socio-cultural and ecological environment.

Local sustainability challenges and public policy responses, and the implications of government policy for new businesses and social enterprise.

The role of NGOs in business transformational partnerships (e.g. WWF).

How businesses are contributing to environmental sustainability.

How businesses are contributing to social change.

The role of non-profit organisations in initiating social change.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

The following list is offered as an indication of the type and level of information that you are expected to consult. Further guidance will be provided by the Module Convener.


Specific learning resources will depend on the country and context at the heart of the module, but the following text is indicative for a focus on South Africa:


Swilling M and E Annecke (2012) Just Transitions: Explorations of Sustainability in an Unfair World, United Nations University Press

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources


Origin date


Last revision date