Syllabus for SUS-700



Designing a Business Case for Sustainability introduces students to the topic of sustainability with a focus on how they can build a business case for sustainability within their organization. The course provides background into the social, economic, and environmental challenges facing organizations today as they strive for more sustainable operations, explaining both the trade-offs and the potential payoffs from striving for a zero-waste supply chain. Students will learn why it is imperative that all businesses work toward developing a regenerative business model rather than one that is exploitative. This course discusses ways an organization can revise its operations to accommodate the triple bottom line of profit, people, and planet.  Students will learn about the global issues challenging today's business managers from the key leaders and the important literature in the sustainability field.  Students will also develop their capacity to think critically about the role the organizations they are connected with have played or can play in building a more sustainable world.


After completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Explain the meaning of sustainability as well as its importance to the long-term viability and profitability of an organization
  2. Assess the ethical implications of sustainability.
  3. Evaluate the current state of sustainability within an organization.
  4. Integrate systems thinking concepts into the development of a viable sustainability strategy
  5. Evaluate change management approaches for implementing sustainability objectives.
  6. Summarize how specific organizations have implemented sustainability strategies to innovate and create profitable opportunities.
  7. Explain the importance of collaboration and the engagement of all stakeholders in implementing sustainability.


You will need the following materials to do the work of the course. The required textbook is available from the College’s textbook supplier, MBS Direct.

Required Textbook

  1. Senge, P. et al. (2010). The necessary revolution: Working together to create a sustainable world. New York: Random House.

ISBN: 978-0-385-51904-5

Other Resources

  1. Students will read articles and watch video clips; links are provided within particular modules


Designing a Business Case for Sustainability is a three-credit, eight-week online course, consisting of four (4) modules. Modules include an overview, topics, study materials, and activities. Module titles are listed below.

  1. Module 1: The Meaning and Importance of Sustainability
    Course objectives covered in this module: 1, 2, 6

  1. Module 2: Creating Value Through Sustainability
    Course objectives covered in this module: 3, 4, 6
  2. Module 3: Engaging Stakeholders and Inspiring Innovation
    Course objectives covered in this module: 7
  3. Module 4: Putting It All Together: Building Your Case for Change
    Course objectives covered in this module: 5

Consult the course Calendar for assignment due dates.


For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate in online discussion forums, complete several types of written assignments, attend two synchronous events, and complete a final project. See below for details.

You will find Evaluation Rubrics for the activities in the Evaluation Rubrics area of the course site.

Consult the course Calendar for assignment due dates.

Discussion Forums

You are required to participate in three (3) graded discussion forums.  Discussion forums are on a variety of topics associated with the course modules. There is also an ungraded but required introduction forum in Module 1.

Written Assignments

You are required to participate in six (6) written assignments, including a midterm assignment. Directions for each assignment are provided within the module.

Guidelines for Written Assignments

Each written assignment has the following requirements.

  1. Your answer for each question should be 500 to 1000 words in length (2 to 4 pages with a typical font and spacing).
  2. Your answers should demonstrate that you are thinking about the material and developing the ability to apply it. To do this you should use your own words to explain concepts and provide examples from your own experience whenever possible.  Answers that include only information and examples from the textbook will receive a grade of C, at best.
  3. You are encouraged to use outside sources of information in addition to your textbook.  Be sure you provide a complete citation for outside sources.
  4. Please proofread your answers.

Synchronous Events

Synchronous events will be held during modules 1 and 4 of the semester. Students will connect with a webinar number (provided by your mentor) at a set time.  Your mentor will work with the class to propose a time that works best and accommodates the majority.  

*Mentors instructions for this activity are available in the instructor's resources area of the course Web site.

Final Project

The final project for this course requires students to present, in the form of a final paper, a business case for sustainability that is convincing and that reflects the concepts in the course materials. Your final paper should be organized, cogently argued,and creative.  

Your paper should be between 2000 and 2500 words in length (with a typical font and spacing this will be between 8 and 10 pages).

Please consult the Final Project Rubric, found in the Evaluation Rubrics area of the course site.

A fuller description of the final project is available in the Final Project section of the course Web site. Note that you will submit the first two sections of this project as your cumulative midterm assignment.


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

  1. Online discussions (3)—10 percent
  2. Midterm Assignment (Assignment 4) —20 percent
  3. Other written assignments (1-3, 5-6)—20 percent
  4. Synchronous Events (2) —10 percent
  5. Final Project —40 percent

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:
























Below 73

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or higher on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., assignments, discussion postings, projects, etc.). Graduate students must maintain a B average overall to remain in good academic standing.


First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

  1. Read carefully the entire Syllabus, making sure that all aspects of the course are clear to you and that you have all the materials required for the course.
  2. Take time to read the entire Online Student Handbook. The Handbook answers many questions about how to proceed through the course and how to get the most from your educational experience at Thomas Edison State College.
  3. Arrange to take your examination(s) by following the instructions in this Syllabus and the Online Student Handbook.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the learning management systems environment—how to navigate it and what the various course areas contain. If you know what to expect as you navigate the course, you can better pace yourself and complete the work on time.
  2. If you are not familiar with Web-based learning be sure to review the processes for posting responses online and submitting assignments before class begins.

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:

  1. To stay on track throughout the course, begin each week by consulting the course Calendar. The Calendar provides an overview of the course and indicates due dates for submitting assignments, posting discussions, and scheduling and taking examinations.
  2. Check Announcements regularly for new course information.


Students at Thomas Edison State College are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State College expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the College insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty takes the following forms:

  1. Cheating
  2. Plagiarizing (including copying and pasting from the Internet without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources)
  3. Fabricating information or citations
  4. Facilitating acts of dishonesty by others
  5. Unauthorized access to examinations or the use of unauthorized materials during exam administration
  6. Submitting the work of another person or work previously used without informing the mentor
  7. Tampering with the academic work of other students

Academic dishonesty will result in disciplinary action and possible dismissal from the College. Students who submit papers that are found to be plagiarized will receive an F on the plagiarized assignment, may receive a grade of F for the course, and may face dismissal from the College.

A student who is charged with academic dishonesty will be given oral or written notice of the charge. If a mentor or the College official believes the infraction is serious enough to warrant referral of the case to the academic dean, or if the mentor awards a final grade of F in the course because of the infraction, the student and the mentor will be afforded formal due process.

If a student is found cheating or using unauthorized materials on an examination, he or she will automatically receive a grade of F on that examination. Students who believe they have been falsely accused of academic dishonesty should seek redress through informal discussions with the mentor, through the office of the dean, or through an executive officer of Thomas Edison State College.


Using someone else’s work as your own is plagiarism. Although it may seem like simple dishonesty, plagiarism is against the law. Thomas Edison State College takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing will be severely penalized. If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism. (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > “Citing Sources.”)

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else’s. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of the intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

Thomas Edison State College. All Rights Reserved.