Part 6 of 6 in series "Recommended online courses"

Are companies morally required to take stakeholder interests into account, to ‘do’ CSR? These courses do not ask that philosophical question, but start from the assumption that business done differently leads to better outcomes.

  1. Just Money: Banking as if Society Mattered
  2. Economic Democracy: The Cooperative Alternative
  3. New Models of Business in Society
  4. Social Enterprise: Business Doing Good
  5. Social Entrepreneurship

Previous posts in this series listed foundational courses in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE), and courses on Economics Growth, (In)equality and Well-being, on (American) Capitalism, (Chinese) Marxism and Globalisation and on Business Ethics.

1. Just Money: Banking as if Society Mattered

This course looks into banks that operate differently, namely, ‘just banks’ that use capital and finance as a tool to address social and ecological challenges“, says the webpage of the course Just Money: Banking as if Society Mattered (see promo video on top of this post). It is “for anyone who wants to understand the unique role banks play as intermediaries in our economy and how they can leverage that position to produce positive social, environmental, and economic change.”

It is a course by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA), taught on the TedX platform. The option to earn a verified certificate is unfortunately closed, but you can still explore the course content. No previous knowledge of finance or banking needed.

2. Economic Democracy: The Cooperative Alternative

Could a cooperative market economy, in which firms are owned and controlled by their workers, be a viable and efficient alternative to capitalism?” is the central question of this course on Economic Democracy: The Cooperative Alternative. Further questions addressed are:

  • “What would happen if workers ran their own businesses?”
  • “Would worker-managed firms make the same decisions as their capitalist counterparts?”
  • “Could such an economy be efficient?”
  • “What policies could be deployed to promote a cooperative sector?”

According to the lecturers “Cooperatives have many attractive features, including high productivity. But they account for a relatively small proportion of GDP in most economies.” Why this is so, is one of the topics discussed in the course.

The course, for which you can earn a verified certificate if you pay a small fee, is taught by the University of Edinburgh, in collaboration with the University of St Andrews and the James Hutton Institute (UK).

3. New Models of Business in Society

Although the final session of this course on New Models of Business in Societyexplores the idea of how to become a stakeholder entrepreneur and create a business that makes money and makes the world a better place”, the focus of this course seems – not surprisingly, given its title – to be mainly on theory. Here is the course description:

In this course we will be discussing the emergence of a new story about business. This new story locates business within a societal framework. Almost every business creates or destroys value for customers, suppliers, employees, communities and society, in addition to shareholders and other financiers. A number of new models of business can be built on this idea such as corporate responsibility, philanthropy, shared value and sustainability. Profits and stakeholder value go together, and this course explains how.

The course can be found on the Coursera platform, and is taught by the University of Virginia (USA). It gets quite positive reviews from previous students, although a very small number of them complain that the content is rather elementary.

4. Social Enterprise: Business Doing Good

If you want a more global scope and are not just interested in theory, but also in becoming a social entrepreneur yourself, this course on Business Doing Good seems to be a better choice. It is part of a three course program on Social Enterprise, the other two courses are on turning your ideas into actions and making your business grow in a sustainable way. This is the foundational course, in which “you explore different models of social enterprise and the local and global problems that they aim to address.” Topics covered are the following:

  • “Understand what social enterprise is and its relation to sustainable development.
  • Learn how to evaluate social enterprise in the context of global and local problems.
  • Assess different definitions of social enterprise.
  • Identify different social enterprise models.
  • Learn about the social impact of social enterprises.
  • Come up with a social enterprise business idea.”

The course was created on platform FutureLearn by the Middlesex University Business School (UK), the Jindal Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship (India) and Living in Minca, an international platform for social enterprises.

5.Social Entrepreneurship

If you want to become a social entrepreneur, but are not sure yet what your company’s product or service will be, this three course program from the Copenhagen Business School (Denmark) may be for you:

  1. The first course is on detecting opportunities and developing ideas, advocating “the need to learn about the source and root of a social problem.”
  2. In the second course  you will develop a business model and learn to “compare different social impact investment methods and choose the right funding strategy for your social venture
  3. The third course is about making an impact, discussing social impact assessment, communication and marketing strategies, growth strategies and exit strategies.

Series "Recommended online courses":

The morality of markets is a complex topic. Do you feel like you have enough knowledge to make a sensible contribution to the debate? If not, this series of blog posts introduces some ‘Massive Open Online Courses’ (MOOCs) that you can take from anywhere in the world.

Articles in this series:
  1. Five Foundational Online Courses in PHILOSOPHY, POLITICS and ECONOMICS that Help You Reflect on the Morality of Markets
  2. Five Online Courses on (American) CAPITALISM, Chinese MARXISM and GLOBALIZATION to Deepen Your Knowledge
  3. Four Online Courses on ECONOMIC GROWTH, (IN)EQUALITY and WELL-BEING to Deepen Your Knowledge
  4. Four Online Courses in BUSINESS ETHICS to Work on Better Markets at the Personal / Organizational Level
  5. Five Online Courses on DOING BUSINESS DIFFERENTLY
  6. Five Online Economics Course on HOW MARKETS WORK