2023-2024 / GEST3024-1

Business and sustainable development


30h Th

Number of credits

 Bachelor in political sciences : general5 crédits 
 Bachelor in economics and business management4 crédits 
 Extra courses intended for exchange students (Erasmus, ...)5 crédits 
 Master in human resources management (120 ECTS) (Management)4 crédits 
 Extra courses intended for exchange students (Erasmus, ...) (Faculty of social sciences)4 crédits 
 Master in multilingual communication (120 ECTS)5 crédits 
 Master in geography : general (120 ECTS)3 crédits 
 Master in urban planning and territorial development (120 ECTS)3 crédits 
 Bachelor in psychology and education : general3 crédits 


Sybille Mertens de Wilmars

Language(s) of instruction

French language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the second semester


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

Course description

The global crises call for an evolution of the economic system and in-depth changes in our modes of production and consumption. Enterprises can play an important role in this transformation.

Today, it is essential to understand the limits of current business models, and to be able to assess the potential and risks of innovative and alternative models that are in line with sustainable development.

The course begins by providing students with a framework for critically analyzing businesses  in relation to their main stakeholders (workers, suppliers, consumers, financiers, civil society, the environment, etc.). It then provides an introduction to sustainable models, including social enterprise models. These organizations are interesting to study because they integrate social and environmental concerns into their economic objectives as a matter of priority. In so doing, they develop innovative practices that can inspire and contribute to a global transition of our economic system.

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

At the end of this course, students will be specifically able to :

  • think critically about our current modes of production
  • translate sustainable development into concrete practices concerning the relations between the enterprise and its stakeholders
  • assess the innovative potential and risks of business models proposed by social and sustainable enterprises.
These specific skills reinforce the generic skills targeted by HEC's bachelor's degree program in economics and management. This course will help students to :


  • understand the political, societal and economic context of a complex situation, and identify the legal constraints that apply
  • understand the societal, economic, political and environmental issues at stake in a complex situation
  • adopt a systemic approach when analyzing a complex management problem.
  • demonstrate critical thinking, curiosity and university-level scientific rigor.
  • take a critical and ethical look at their managerial practices.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

  • Students must have completed an introductory course in economics and, if possible , in microeconomics and public economics
  • Students must be able to express themselves in French or English and must be able to read fluently French and English.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

Learning activities include

  • Conceptual and theoretical presentations by the teacher (powerpoint)
  • Readings and discussion in class
  • Case studies

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

Face-to-face course

Additional information:

Part 1 - Theoretical insights

  • Systemic crisis and transition : looking for causalities
  • Sustainable devlopment : from alerts to new paradigm
  • Corporate social responsability
  • Sustainable enterprises : a continuum
  • State role in sustainability
Partie 2 - Applications and case studies

  • Consuming products from sustainable enterprises
  • Working in sustainable enterprises
  • Financing sustainable enterprises

Recommended or required readings

  • A bibliography containing books and reference articles will be suggested for each topic. These documents will be made available (Lol@).

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- In-person

written exam ( open-ended questions )

- Remote

written exam ( open-ended questions )

Continuous assessment

Additional information:

The overall assessment in june will combine two elements:
A written  exam  - 70% and writings preparation of course sessions (30%)

In the second session, the evaluation is only based on a written exam  - 100%

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course

This course takes place every Monday 3.30pm-6.30pm, from february to may (Building Opera Room Pousseur). 1st course : Feb 5 2024


Prof. Sybille Mertens, Centre d'Economie Sociale - HEC Université de Liège - smertens@uliege.be

Secretary :  nathalie.jourdan@uliege.be

Teaching assistant : Romain David - r.david@uliege.be

Association of one or more MOOCs