ENVS  5150



                                          Fall 2009



Wednesdays, 9:30-12:30

HNES 103


Course Director:  Brian Milani <bmilani@web.ca>

Office Hours: 12:30-2 and 6-7 Wednesdays [and by appointment]



Course Description:

Perspectives on Green Business provides an overview of the dynamics of green economic development, including enterprise practices, new regulatory approaches, system design, and more.  It is particularly intended to provide context for FES students considering Business & Environment Diploma, who are encouraged to take the course in their first term.  The course is, however, relevant for any student interested in ecological alternatives, applied economics or sustainability.



Course Objectives:

1.     Introduce students to contending paradigms of sustainability and their practical implications for firms and economic development strategies. 

2.     Examine important relationships, opportunities, challenges and controversies in various sectors of green business.  What is green business?  What is its role in creating sustainable economies, and what are the obstacles to the authentic greening of business?   Topics include scale, accounting and management systems, forms of liability and accountability (e.g. Extended Producer Responsibility), creation of green markets, and green business incubation strategies.

3.     Survey key sectors of the economy and the nature of green business in each of those areas: agriculture, manufacturing, energy, finance, etc.  What is the state-of-the-art in green production, technology and organization in these sectors?

4.     Provide a venue for wide-ranging discussion of issues relating to green enterprise: including EPR, green infrastructure, worker ownership/participation, economic growth, eco-labelling, bioregional development, women’s and minority perspectives on green enterprise, greenwashing, community business, and more.

5.     Provide educational resources and counselling for B&E students concerning their Areas of Concentration, research themes, Plans of Study and Diploma Internship possibilities. 




Theme Areas to Explore:

·         what is sustainable or green business?

·         paradigms & principles of green economic development

·         the nature of green production in key sectors: agriculture, energy, manufacturing, transportation, etc.

·         potentials and limits of the profit motive; pros and cons of the “triple bottom line”

·         the growing movement of values-driven business

·         retail: Local First or the Big Boxes?

·         people-intensive vs. resource-intensive productionj0293170

·         industrial ecology and eco-industrial development

·         the life-cycle approach and design for the environment

·         regenerative work and right livelihood

·         sustainability indicators

·         extended producer responsibility and corporate liability

·         Peak Oil: enterprise at the End of Suburbia

·         the role of small business: opportunities and challenges

·         the role of big business: opportunities and challenges

·         the role of non-profits, third sector and co-operative businesses

·         the role of trade

·         finance and green development

·         business in the community

·         bioregional enterprise

·         green marketing and green consumerism

·         worker remuneration and participation

·         government and the ground rules for enterprise

·         green businesses in the Toronto region





(a) course-unit value: 3 credits

(b) assignments:  include three main components:

1.  book review: approx. 5 pages.  The student can choose a book from those listed here or any other approved book relating to green business.  Due by 8th week, but can be submitted earlier. (20% of grade)

2.  class presentation in final weeks of class: a concise 15 min. summary of any topic relating to green business.  (20% of grade).

3.  final term paper: on any topic of the student’s choosing, approx.15 pages (40% of grade).

 (c) class participation: will constitute 20% of course grade. 




Prerequisites and Limitations; Relation to Other Courses:

Open to all students interested in green business issues, especially those in the Business and Environment diploma programme.  No business or economics background necessary.

This course is a prerequisite for Dimensions of Green Business, offered in the winter term, and it is meant to provide a foundation for more in-depth exploration of green business strategies and dynamics.





Brian Milani was FES coordinator of the B&E program 2004 to June 2008.  He is author of Designing the Green Economy, a founding member of the Coalition for a Green Economy (1992), and co-founder of Green Enterprise Toronto (GET) (2005).  Brian’s focus for over two decades has been on creating grassroots ecological alternatives—through business, community development and education.  Brian was co-founder of Green City Construction, and is the director of Toronto’s long-running course on green economic alternatives—The Green Economy at the Transformative Learning Centre of OISE-UT —featuring Toronto’s cutting edge eco-innovators.  Brian has also served as a member of the Labour Council of Toronto’s and Carpenter’s Local 27’s environment committees.  Besides being active with the Coalition, he is currently an associate of the, and a member of the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics (CANSEE).  Brian received his MES at York FES, and his PhD at U of Toronto IES & OISE-UT.  His doctoral thesis was entitled Building Materials in a Green Economy: Community-based strategies for dematerialization. 



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