Spotlight: Three Social Impact Courses To Consider this Fall

Wharton’s curriculum offers plenty of options, emphasizing an intensive, flexible core plus the depth of 18 majors and breadth of nearly 200 electives. On our website, we keep a running list of just some of the many MBA and undergraduate courses that relate to social impact, from the management department to finance to public policy and beyond. And we are always excited to add a new class to the list, especially when students share their enthusiasm with us.

Here are three social impact courses to consider this fall:

The Political Environment of the Multinational Firm – MGMT 209/MGMT 720

Are you well prepared to manage or analyze business challenges and competitive threats in a variety of political and social environments? For example, what should you do to dissuade or counter an individual critic armed with a camera phone and a YouTube account? Or a decentralized grassroots organization that seemingly pops up overnight, appears to have no single leader or headquarters, and yet is quite successful in capturing media attention? Or a government official who because of a tight reelection campaign or an internal challenge from a populist general turns on you?

Lone individuals, small activist groups and unexpected political shifts have done extensive damage to the reputations — and value — of multinationals in recent years. And yet most companies don’t plan for, or even think about, investing in building the kinds of solid relationships with community leaders, governments, NGOs, and other key players that can help them avoid such crises and, when necessary, draw upon their reservoir of stakeholder capital to respond quickly and decisively when a challenge or threat emerges.

In this MBA or undergraduate class by Professor Witold (Vit) Henisz, students gain an integrative perspective towards the management of these risks and opportunities.

Marketing for Social Impact – MKTG733

Private and public sector firms increasingly use marketing strategies to engage their customers and stakeholders around social impact. To do so, managers need to understand how best to engage and influence customers to behave in ways that have positive social effects.

This course, taught by Professor Deborah Small, focuses on strategies for changing target consumers’ behavior on key issues in the public interest; for example, health behaviors, energy efficiency, poverty reduction, fund-raising for social causes. The MBA elective also explores how managers can partner with organizations, nonprofits, or government to achieve social impact.

Says Taylor Yates, W’16, “Professor Small’s class was a critical turning point for me in my academic journey at Wharton. I have always loved volunteering and supporting various causes, but used to think of this as something separate from my interest in marketing. Social Impact of Marketing opened my eyes to the idea of combining my personal passion for giving with my interest in marketing, and showed me how I could use my traditional business education to create social good. The class challenged me to think of marketing in a completely different way and actually was what inspired me to pursue a concentration in Social Impact and Responsibility.

Impact Investing – FNCE 754

This popular course taught by Professor Chris Geczy explores impact investing, a discipline that seeks to generate social benefits as well as financial returns.

From tiny beginnings, the Impact Investment space has expanded and now commands significant attention from policymakers, wealthy and public-spirited individuals, academia and, not least, the world’s largest asset managers and philanthropic foundations. Evangelists believe it may be the key to freeing the world from poverty. Skeptics think it will remain confined to the boutique.

Regardless, impact investing is becoming a distinct career specialization for finance professionals despite the diverse skillset each must have and the uncertainty of the new field’s growth.


For more information about available courses, professors, evaluation data, or registration, visit Wharton SPIKE.