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Erasmus University Rotterdam

Driving business towards the Sustainable Development Goals

Erasmus University Rotterdam via Coursera


Extreme weather events, wars, famine and environmental destruction are just a few of the wicked problems faced by humanity. That’s why in 2015 the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that target the big challenges such as how to eliminate poverty, how to protect the environment and how to bring about peace. Every member state committed to achieving these goals by 2030. What can businesses do to counter climate change and create a sustainable business culture? Why is this relevant for business anyway? Explore how business can contribute to a better future for people AND the planet without giving up profits. This course has been developed by Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University (RSM). It focuses on the role of businesses in achieving the SDGs. You will gain insights from leaders of international companies and academics in business and management who will guide you through the issue of how businesses can contribute to the SDGs. The course received a 'MOOC Award of Excellence' by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the SDG Academy in September 2019 ( After completing this course you will: • know what the SDGs are, why they are important and how each individual can be an agent for positive change in the world; • understand the role of business in the transition to sustainable development to create a prosperous future for all; • be able to identify interconnectedness of the SDGs and the challenges behind solving them; • know how management insights can contribute to the SDGs; • be able to evaluate the effectiveness of current business strategies in contributing to the SDGs; • develop a positive, critical, aware and courageous attitude towards the SDGs. The course consists of seven units, each focusing on several aspects of sustainable development and taking one week to complete. You will study by watching videos, reading literature and by engaging in other activities such as weekly challenges. Assignments will consist of quizzes, discussions with your fellow students, and challenges to implement in your daily life. Are you ready to find out how you can be an agent for positive change? Register now!


  • Week 1: Introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
    • Welcome to this MOOC 'Driving business towards the Sustainable Development Goals'. We are excited that you are joining us to explore how business can contribute to a better future for people and planet, and how you can start contributing today. First, explore the course overview so you have a better understanding of the resources, materials and assessments that lie ahead. We hope you enjoy the course. Let’s get started!
  • Week 2: The Biosphere
    • This week focuses on the SDGs that are most related to our planet and the biosphere. We will explore what companies can do to halt, reverse or mitigate climate change, and protect life on land and below water.
  • Week 3: Society I
    • This week is the first of two weeks dedicated to those SDGs that relate to Society. We introduce societal challenges such as hunger and poverty, and we look at new business models for healthcare and the transition to sustainable energy.
  • Week 4: Society II
    • This week is about the remaining SDGs related to society. We look at cities, education, and tackling inequality. We examine sustainable city transportation networks and how social entrepreneurship can support education that promotes employment for everyone. We also talk about the interconnectedness of the SDGs.
  • Week 5: Economy
    • In this week, we will explore the SDGs related to the economy. We will explore business contribution to SDGs 8, 9 and 12 and find out why decent work conditions, innovation and infrastructure, and sustainable consumption and production are so important. The key question is how businesses can be (both socially as well as economically) profitable in the long run while respecting planetary boundaries and human rights.
  • Week 6: Partnerships
    • The SDGs cannot be achieved by a single individual or organization. In this module we will explore how companies, governments, non-profit organizations and individuals can develop partnerships to achieve peace and prosperity for all.
  • Week 7: Systems thinking
    • The last week of this MOOC will focus on the interconnectedness of the SDGs. None of the SDGs can be achieved by themselves or in isolation. This week, we will explore how the SDGs are interconnected and how synergies and trade-offs work.

Taught by

Tobias Brandt, Frank Wijen, Amanda Williams, Ferdinand Jaspers, Michaéla Schippers, Yashar Ghiassi-Farrokhfal, Steve Kennedy, Eva Rood, René de Koster, Ying Zhang, Steef van de Velde, Mallory Flowers, Dirk Schoenmaker, Marta Szymanowska, Cees van Dam, Dianne Bevelander, Rob van Tulder, Heleen Tiemersma, Erik van Raaij, Anne-Kathrin Klesse, Gabriele Jacobs and Marieke de Wal


5.0 rating, based on 2 Class Central reviews

4.8 rating at Coursera based on 1315 ratings

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  • Anonymous
    This MOOC was absolutely inspiring and eye-opening. We live in such troubled times and working together to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals is crucial. It didn't only teach me about pressing issues of today's globalized world but also what is necessary to turn them around. It is a great initiative that university's like Erasmus University Rotterdam realize their role in education and reach out to people outside their campus to spread their positive message.
  • Anonymous
    A "must-have" for all those who want to create a positive impact by working with the SDG's. Very useful insights from industry leaders which will not only equip you with business tools but will also motivate you to change your personal behaviour.

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