Approved Electives and Focus Areas
Students select elective courses for a minimum of 12 credits from the list of approved elective courses. Taking electives within one focus area is not mandatory, but is encouraged. The specific courses approved for each Focus Area are reviewed and updated regularly by the Managing for Social Impact Faculty Coordinating Committee. Students are advised to check course offerings carefully in planning their program as not all the elective courses are offered each year.
Today’s global digital economy, in which people, companies, markets, and even machines are constantly connected and communicating, enables innovative social solutions and well as opportunities for rapid growth and global expansion of services. But it also presents complex challenges. Expectations about long-term employment, economic security and personal privacy are shifting with the rise of billion-dollar global firms based on freelance jobs, global social networks, digital media and data mining. The rights and responsibilities of citizenship (both individual and corporate) are open to debate and radical restructuring, as are the form of the corporation and appropriate roles of the public and private sector in addressing pressing social issues.
This Focus Area will prompt students to consider the social impacts of the digital economy on citizenship, innovation and economic opportunity, personal values, work, privacy and public policy.
As Pope Francis notes in his recent encyclical, “...many professionals, opinion makers, communications media and centers of power, being located in affluent urban areas, are far removed from the poor, with little direct contact with their problems. They live and reason from the comfortable position of a high level of development and a quality of life well beyond the reach of the majority of the world’s population.”
Citizens of wealthier nations and communities, as well as managers of multinational corporations and local enterprise, need to examine the degree to which their well-being and profitability may rely on the exploitation of natural resources and fellow human beings. On the reciprocal side, citizens of wealthier nations and managers of enterprises promoting a charitable contribution with purchase must examine the role that their contributions or charity have in the financial well-being and economic development of the communities they source from and serve. Such judgments are difficult without the tools of ethical reflection, social/political/historic/economic analysis combined with research, discussion, and evaluation.
This focus area challenges students to move beyond their “comfortable position” in the developed world and to consider models of economic development and enterprise management that provide not only greater material well-being, but also more equity and empowerment for individuals and groups within the community.
With over 13,000 signatories committed to the principles of a sustainable and inclusive global economy, the UN Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative. Its mission recognizes the significant challenges facing nations, corporations and communities in the 21st century to come to terms with culturally and economically diverse populations. This Global Compact seeks to organize environmentally sustainable economies at the local community level as well as on behalf of the planet as a whole. Sustainable enterprise and economic development requires managers in the private and the public sector to balance the needs of their diverse stakeholders in an ethically informed way.
This focus area will enable students to analyze the difficult questions of social, ethical, and environmental sustainability and development from multiple disciplines in the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and management.