As a student in the Certificate in Business, Environment, and Social Responsibility Program, you will acquire career-enhancing knowledge of:

  • The causes of environmental and social challenges facing the business world, and the respective policy and business responses to those challenges
  • Frameworks and measurement systems for incorporating sustainability concerns into business analysis and decision-making
  • The chief areas in which business activities and sustainability concerns intersect

You also will acquire in-demand skills that will enable you to:

  • Analyze the causes of and responses to environmental and social problems, as well as develop and implement solutions to these problems
  • Identify and apply frameworks for effectively incorporating sustainability considerations into the analysis and decision-making of managers and policymakers
  • Analyze where and how environmental and social issues impact business concerns, and develop effective management solutions for these scenarios

A Flexible Curriculum You Can Customize

The BESR Certificate Program curriculum includes a required foundation course and at least 3 credits in advanced business sustainability courses. To complete the minimum required 12 credits, you may choose a maximum of 6 credits of electives compatible with your career goals.

Required foundation class

  • MHR 710 Challenges and Solutions in Business Sustainability (spring, 3 credits)

Advanced business sustainability coursework—choose at least 3 credits

  • RE 651 Green Sustainable Property Development (spring, 3 credits)
  • RMI 650 Sustainability, Environmental, and Social Risk Management (fall, 3 credits)
  • GB 713 Business & Society (Branding & Purpose-Driven Business) (spring, 3 credits)
  • OTM 770 Sustainable Approaches to System Improvement (fall, biannually; requires instructor approval)


  • ACCT 700/765 Financial Accounting (3 credits)
  • ACCT 710 Managerial Accounting (3 credits)
  • ACCT 771 Seminar in Strategic Cost Management and Performance Measurement (3 credits)
  • FIN 700/765 Introduction to Financial Management (3 credits)
  • MHR 723 Business Strategy (3 credits)
  • MHR 728 Bargaining, Negotiating and Dispute Settlement for Managers (3 credits)
  • MARKETNG 700/765 Marketing Management (3 credits)
  • OTM 700/765 Operations Management (3 credits)
  • OTM 732 Economics for Management (3 credits)
  • RMI 700/765 Principles of Risk Management (3 credits)
  • RMI/GEN BUS 701 Managing Legal Risks (3 credits)
  • ECON/​A A E/​ENVIR ST/​URB R PL 671 Energy Economics (3 credits)

College of Agriculture & Life Sciences

  • AAE/ECON/F&W ECOL 531 Natural Resource Economics (3 credits)
  • AAE 643 Foundations of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics (3 credits)
  • AAE 671 Energy Economics (3 credits)
  • AAE 729 The Microdynamics of Environment and Development (3 credits)
  • AAE 760 Frontiers in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics 1 (3 credits)
  • AAE 762 Frontiers in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics 2 (3 credits)
  • F&W ECOL/AAE/ENVIR ST 652 Decision Methods for Natural Resource Managers (3-4 credits)

College of Agriculture & Life Sciences/College of Letters & Sciences

  • URB R PL/​A A E/​ECON/​ENVIR ST 671 Energy Economics (3 credits)
  • URB R PL/​ECON/​PUB AFFR 734 Regional Economic Problem Analysis (3 credits)
  • URB R PL 814 Environmental and Alternative Dispute Resolution in Public Policy & Planning (3 credits)
  • URB R PL 841 Urban Functions, Spatial Organization, and Environmental Form (2-3 credits)
  • URB R PL 843 Land Use Policy and Planning (3 credits)
  • URB R PL 865 Water Resources Institutions and Policies (3 credits)

Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

  • ENVIR ST/​SOIL SCI 575 Assessment of Environmental Impact (3 credits)
  • ENVIR ST/​A A E/​ECON/​URB R PL 671 Energy Economics (3 credits)
  • ENVIR ST 707 Professional Skills for Global Systems Analysis (1 credit)
  • ENVIR ST 977 Sustainable Development – An Integral Perspective (3 credits)

College of Engineering

  • CIV ENGR 498 Construction Project Management (3 credits)
  • CIV ENGR 669 Special Topics in Construction Engineering and Management (3 credits)
  • EPD 660 Core Competencies of Sustainability (3 credits)
  • EPD 661 Industrial Ecology: Sustainability Tools in Context (3 credits)

Law School

  • LAW 845 Water Rights Law (2-3 credits)
  • LAW 848 Introduction to Environmental Law (3 credits)
  • LAW 918 Selected Problems in International Law Seminar: "International Environmental Law & Policy,” or "Climate Change, Human Rights & the Environment" (2-3 credits)
  • LAW 988 Selected Problems in Environmental Law Seminar: "Natural Resources Law," or "Agricultural Law & the Environment" (2-3 credits)
  • LAW 989 Environmental Law and Practice (3 credits)

La Follette School of Public Affairs

  • PUB AFFR 866 Global Environmental Governance (3 credits)
  • PUB AFFR 881 Benefit-Cost Analysis (3 credits)

School of Medicine and Public Health

  • POP HLTH/ENVIR ST 560 Health Impact Assessment of Global Environmental Change (3 credits)
  • POP HLTH 789: Principles of Environmental Health: A Systems Thinking Approach (3 credits)


1. The list of electives above will be adjusted as new courses are offered and others dropped. You may request to substitute a listed course with a related one by submitting a syllabus, as well as a written explanation of how the substitute course meets the learning outcomes of the certificate and how it will assist you in reaching your own goals for earning the certificate. The substitute course must be approved by the BESR Certificate faculty advisor in coordination with the Certificate Oversight Committee.

2.  For courses with access restricted to Wisconsin School of Business students, non-business school students may select equivalent open-access lower-level courses numbered 300 and above (e.g., substitute Marketing 700/765 with Marketing 300).

Recommended Extracurricular Activities

Certificate students are encouraged, but not required, to engage in extracurricular activities that enhance the certificate’s learning outcomes. These include:

  • Speaker events such as the Weston Lecture Series
  • Competitions such as Walmart’s Sustainable Business Plan Competition and D-Prize Competition
  • Conferences such as the Nelson’s Institute Annual Earth Day conference and Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council Conference