Check Out These Spring 2020 Social Impact Courses

Learn more about the intersection of social impact and business. Take a course at Wharton this coming semester.

several students in the middle of a classroom group-based discussion

Wharton offers numerous courses that will help you understand and tackle many of the most pressing social and environmental challenges in the world.

We’ve updated our Social Impact Courses page so that Penn and Wharton students can explore and find a course that matches their interests for the Spring 2020 semester.

Below in alphabetical order by department, we’ve highlighted just a few of the many undergraduate and graduate courses available.


Professor Judd Kessler

Meets Monday/Wednesday 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. (MBA section) and Monday/Wednesday 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. (undergraduate section)

Interested in learning about the implications of behavioral economics for government policy and firm behavior? This class focuses on the role of behavioral economics in determining whether and how government should intervene in markets — including what policy makers should do to address market failures, combat poverty and inequality, and raise revenue. The next few lectures will explore how firms price and produce in a market with behavioral agents and will examine whether the market can succeed at eliminating behavioral biases. Finally, you will explore specific policy questions, and debate optimal policy solutions while hearing from academics and policy makers operating in a world of behavioral agents.

BEPP 233: Consumers, Firms and Markets in Developing Countries

Professor Shing-Yi Wang

Meets Tuesday/Thursday 10:30am – 11:50am and 12:00pm – 1:20 p.m

Ever wonder why many people are poor in developing countries and the role of both business and government in these countries? Nearly four-fifths of the world’s population lives in low income or developing countries. This course will examine economic life, including consumers, firms and markets, in low income countries. We will apply both economic theory and empirical analysis for analyzing the roles of both business and government in consumption, production and market equilibria.

BEPP/OIDD 263: Environmental & Energy Economics and Policy

Professor Arthur van Benthem

Meets Tuesday/Thursday 12:00pm – 1:20 p.m.

Interested in environmental policy, carbon markets, and renewable energy? This course examines environmental and energy markets from an economist’s perspective, ranging from fossil fuels to renewable energy to cap-and-trade systems, and explains how different regulations can provide efficient or counter-productive incentives for firms, consumers and politicians. The course includes two strategy simulation games and guest lectures from investors, journalists, entrepreneurs and politicians.


Professor Arthur van Benthem

Meets Tuesday/Thursday 3:00pm – 4:20 p.m.

Interested in energy policy, carbon markets, and renewable energy? This course teaches you how to think about energy markets – ranging from fossil fuels to renewable energy to cap-and-trade systems – from an economist’s perspective and how regulation impacts important large-scale investment decisions in the energy space. The course includes two strategy simulation games and guest lectures from investors, journalists, entrepreneurs and politicians.

FNCE 812: The Finance, Economics and Law of Fiscal Crises

Professor Robert Inman and Professor David Skeel

Meets Monday/Wednesday 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

How can we diagnose and treat the “disease” of fiscal mismanagement? This course focuses on the causes of fiscal crises, a careful detailing of who wins and who loses, and then on how such crises might be resolved and, perhaps most importantly, how they might be prevented in the future. The importance of private information and public regulation for disciplining the fiscal performance of democratically elected governments will be a central concern.

LGST 401: Global Social Enterprise Consulting Project: A Wharton Undergraduate Capstone

Professor Djordjija Petkoski

Meets Mondays 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Take this course if you are interested in practical, hands-on experience advising global social impact projects which have been awarded prestigious awards by the World Bank within the past year. You will interact with the founders of these projects as well as World Bank experts and apply the conceptual and analytic tools you have learned for a good purpose: helping an innovative, global social enterprise to launch successfully (target projects will change every year to reflect the most recent World Bank winners of its annual “Ideas for Action” competition).

LGST 613: Business, Social Responsibility and the Environment

Professor Eric Orts

Meets Tuesday/Thursday 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Have you wondered what outstanding global citizenship looks like in the business context? Take this course to satisfy the Legal Studies and Business Ethics requirement of the MBA program if you have an interest in how business can (and should) be a force for good in society. You will explore the many ways that business firms promote socially responsible goals, especially in an era facing a climate change emergency and in need of environmental stewardship.


Professor Michael Vandenbergh

Meets Monday/Wednesday 12:00pm – 1:30 p.m

This course provides an introduction to environmental management by focusing on foundational concepts of environmental law and policy and how they affect business decisions. You’ll get a deeper practical sense of the important relationship between business and the natural environment, the existing legal and policy framework of environmental protection, and how business managers can think about managing their relationship with both the environment and the law.


Professor Katherine Klein 

Meets Wednesdays 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

How do you create deep and sustainable social impact? In this class, we will examine two critical challenges in the US today: (a) barriers to college access and completion and (b) recidivism and barriers to employment following incarceration. We will dig into the research literature on these topics and meet with for-profit and non-profit executives who are leading the charge either to make college more accessible to those who can least afford it or to strengthen employment opportunities for individuals who were formerly incarcerated. Take this class if you want to gain the insights and skills to harness evidence, leadership, and innovative strategies to effect lasting and positive social impact.


Professor John Paul Macduffie

Meets Tuesday/Thursday 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Technology is changing the workplace, as it has since the Industrial Revolution, but now in new ways that can both enhance human capabilities and threaten to replace them. No outcome from technology is pre-ordained. Choices are made, by technology designers and managers doing implementation that enable multiple strategies and shape outcomes, for better or worse. Take this course if you are fascinated by the intersection of the social (individuals and organizations) and the technical (technology and operations) – and if you want a glimpse into the future of your own work life.


Professor Anne Greenhalgh and Professor Keith Weigelt

Meets Tuesdays 12:00 p.m. – 1:20 p.m.

Take MGMT 399 if you are interested in working with a robust nonprofit in order to frame the problems and address the challenges your host organization faces. In the process, you will hone your creative and critical thinking skills, apply what you have learned, and reflect on your growth and development through iterative feedback and constructive coaching. If you have ever wondered how you might draw on your undergraduate education and apply what you have learned, take MGMT 399 – a course that promises to provide real impact for your host organization and a meaningful and memorable experience for you.

Check out our full running list of social impact courses. We list courses that are available in Spring 2020 as well as courses that may be offered other semesters.
For more information about available courses, professors, evaluation data, or registration, visit MyWharton. Undergrads, don’t forget about the Social Impact & Responsibility concentration, housed in the Legal Studies and Business Ethics department.