Corporate Sustainability: Principles and Practice - an Introduction

"Businesses that fail to integrate sustainability as a core principle will struggle to survive by 2050" Tony Juniper, former head of Friends of the Earth, May 2017

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This innovative new programme provides an introduction to the broad concept of 'corporate sustainability'. The aim is to de-mystify the subject, help you to understand why it is a business imperative, empower you with relevant practical knowledge and fresh ideas, and invigorate your thinking.

In line with a maturing accountability agenda, this course focusses on environmental, social and ethical aspects from both a direct and indirect (supply chain) perspective. It will therefore embrace activities for which a business is directly responsible as well as those arising in its supply chain.


This course will run over a four week period combining two days of classroom learning based at the University of York with an intermediate period of distance learning. During this period you can work at your own pace and in your own time.

Schedule Location Content
Week 1 Classroom (1 day) Concept, context, business case, business model innovations
Weeks 2-3 Distance learning Reflective reading, practical tasks preparing for Week 4
Week 4 Classroom (1 day) Tutorial, strategy development and implementation

The programme will include active learning techniques to help support and develop your understanding of the subject and your ability to apply it. 


By the end of the course you should:

  • have a basic understanding of the concept of corporate sustainability (CS);
  • be able to explain to colleagues why they should consider embedding CS principles and practices in their strategic business planning;
  • have an awareness of business model innovations for environmental sustainability;
  • have gained some experience of developing a tool to support the early stages of a sustainability assessment;
  • be able to identify some key factors to consider in developing and implementing sustainable business strategies.

Who should attend?

The course is relevant to anyone with responsibility for, or an interest in, sustainability issues in a corporate context and is applicable to any business sector.

The course will embrace concepts and knowledge relevant to professional advisors whether in respect of their clients or their own business.

Entry requirements

The course will be pitched at an introductory level. It assumes no specialist prior knowledge or experience, but the content will be challenging and you will need to be able to work independently on course readings and small projects.

You should therefore be educated to at least A-Level, and ideally have a first degree. At least several years work experience is also desirable, but you could have considerably more.

You will need the following to be able to engage with the programme:

  • Access to a PC with internet connection;
  • A current, active email address;
  • Basic IT skills.


The programme will cost £550 per person.

The fee includes:

  • light refreshments, including lunch, on the days spent in York;
  • a copy of the course materials (but not reference/reading materials);
  • up to 1 hour of tutor support during the distance learning phase.


The course will be taught by Fiona Dickson, a specialist in corporate environmental sustainability.


"I have over twenty years professional experience, advising corporations, from household names to SMEs, governments and sub-governments on legal, policy, strategy and practical management aspects of the subject. I have a passion for learning and teaching and have lectured on masters' level programmes at the University of York for fifteen years. I direct the Corporate Sustainability and Environmental Management MSc programme, run jointly by the Environment department and the York Management School, and head up the 'Corporate Sustainability' and 'Business & the Environment' modules. I also teach environmental sustainability to 'Green Chemistry and Sustainable Industrial Technology' students.

My academic background is in the natural sciences (MA Chemistry, MSc Environmental Technology) and law. My broad ranging experience includes: qualifying and practicing for seven years as a Solicitor with niche technology law firm Bristows LLP, including a secondment to the in-house legal department at Gillette Inc., and international environmental consultancy with URS Dames & Moore (now AECOM) and latterly ERM, Environmental Resources Management. I have worked on projects at hundreds of industrial and manufacturing sites spanning many sectors as well as advising at a regional and local level on environmental strategies and at a national level on management systems to support producer responsibility schemes. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

I look forward to welcoming you on the programme and sharing future business-critical knowledge and ideas with you."