• University of Warwick

A Beginner’s Guide to Corporate Social Responsibility

Examine the role of a socially responsible business and how they can contribute to sustainable development.

595 enrolled on this course

A group of socially responsible climate activists litter picking on a beach.
  • Duration

    6 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Explore the principles of corporate social responsibility

Corporations are increasingly expected to be visibly socially responsible, driving sustainable development and maintaining transparency in reporting their processes.

On this six-week course from the University of Warwick, you’ll reflect on how businesses engage with and report on the three pillars of sustainability. You’ll further your understanding of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in different contexts and learn how to embed CSR principles into your operations.

Examine international perspectives on globalisation and sustainability

You’ll be introduced to key concepts including corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, business ethics, and the social licence to operate, allowing you to fully understand how a corporation should interact with these concepts when driving sustainable development processes.

You’ll explore the global nature of business operations, and examine CSR processes in international contexts, allowing you to assess how sustainability practices differ around the world.

Investigate the relationship between corporations and stakeholders

It can be difficult to plan a CSR initiative that represents the interests of all stakeholders within an organisation.

You’ll explore corporate relationships with employees, consumers, government, suppliers, civil society, analysing stakeholder expectations and how your organisation can deliver on the CSR principles that represent all stakeholders.

Learn how to deliver CSR reports

You’ll be introduced to international frameworks and learn what should be included in a comprehensive CSR report.

Using case studies from different global contexts, you’ll finish this course having gained insights into reporting styles and learn how to model your own report to reflect the context of your organisation.

What topics will you cover?

Week 1. Understanding concepts and approaches (Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Citizenship, Business Ethics). The social license to operate

Week 2: Globalisation and sustainability. International views. Applying the triple bottom line (Economy, Environment, Society)

Week 3: The relationship of the company with stakeholders (I): Shareholders and Suppliers

Week 4: The relationship of the company with stakeholders (II): Employees and Government

Week 5: The relationship of the company with stakeholders (III): Consumers and Civil society

Week 6: Corporate Social Responsibility reporting

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

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Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Demonstrate understanding of what it means to be a socially responsible business and the expectations of society about businesses role in sustainable development
  • Identify the difference between true embeddedness of corporate social responsibility principles in business operations and green or whitewashing
  • Discuss the complexity of the relationship of a company with all its stakeholders (employees, consumers, government, suppliers, civil society and shareholders) in a rapidly changing international context
  • Critically evaluate corporate social responsibility reports according to their merits against the three pillars of sustainability (economic, social and environmental)

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for mid-level managers and employees interested in how to embed corporate social responsibility principles in their operations.

It will benefit both those already in the role of reporting corporate social responsibility and those new to the concept.

Who will you learn with?

I'm Associate Professor in Global Sustainable Development at the University of Warwick. Economist by training, my research interests are linked to sustainability (energy, food, CSR, education) and EU.

Who developed the course?

The University of Warwick

The University of Warwick is forward-looking, entrepreneurial and globally connected. With new ways of thinking and achieving it stands out from its competitors as an inspiring place to study.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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