In recent years, Sauder has been continually adding courses focused on sustainability and ethics to its portfolio. One of the most recent additions is COMM 386J – Strategies for Responsible Business, which is modeled after MBA courses and co-taught by Tamar Milne and consumer behaviour researcher Dr. Dale Griffin.

So, how does this course differ from others?

The Cavalier sat down with Tamar, co-chair of Sauder’s Sustainability and Ethics group, and a major driving force behind these new courses, to find out more.

Staff Writer: Amanda Bamford

What is this course about?

Unlike the current courses which are more focused on a single topic such as social enterprises, Tamar mentioned that Comm 386J “is meant to be a broad introduction about the positive role of business in society.”

“This course is going to have a lot of focus on decision-making, which in the undergrad, isn’t taught anywhere else that I know of,” Tamar explained excitedly. “We learn all about how to develop strategies, but not about the decision-making processes that guide those strategies.”

Another reason that many business decisions go awry is short term thinking, Tamar pointed out. COMM 386J will consider how to re-think businesses so that they can have a longer-term perspective. It will consider long term strategies such as committing to core values; approaching decisions with a long-term perspective; gaining a social and/or environmental advantage; and making your business succeed while remaining responsible to all stakeholders.

“A big part of the course is thinking about where things go wrong and how we can do things properly, while considering lots of examples so that students from any discipline can use these tools regardless of where they’re working and what kind of work they are doing.”

How are bad decisions made?

Rash, short term thinking and deficiencies in understanding your values  tend to be the cause of bad decisions, Tamar explained, drawing from her own experience as a value-driven marketer and the extensive research conducted by Dr. Griffin.

“We’re teaching students how to anticipate a mistake, how to acknowledge mistakes when they occur, and how to respond to them. There is nothing that can prevent you from making a mistake— it’s how you react that really matters.”

“Bad decisions are made when you’re not clear on your purpose, who you are, and how you add value to society.”

“That’s what I love about responsible business—we all need it,” said Tamar on who this course is designed for. “Whether you’re in marketing, OBHR, or comm law, it doesn’t matter—you need it.”