GRA 8521 Energy & Society (2023/2024)

GRA 8521 Energy & Society (2023/2024)

Course code: 
GRA 8521
Law and Governance
Course coordinator: 
Marit Sjøvaag
Course name in Norwegian: 
Energy & Society (2023/2024)
Product category: 
EMME - EMM specialisation in Energy
2023 Spring
Active status: 
Level of study: 
Teaching language: 
Course type: 
One semester

This course is part of the Executive Master of Management in Energy in cooperation with BI Norwegian Business School and IFP School.

It is now widely recognized in business, media, government and civil society that companies should aim beyond short-term profit towards a broader goal of long-term sustainable value creation. Given its scale and scope of operation, these expectations strongly apply to energy industry.

The risk of failing to align business with societal expectations is well-illustrated through many environmental, social and governance scandals in energy industry. The purpose of sustainability- engagement, however, is not only to reduce risk; when appropriately deployed, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainability provide opportunities to improve day-to-day business, develop a competitive advantage, and strengthen reputation and brand.

Furthermore, the challenges provoked by the massive human influence on the biosphere compels energy industry in the 21st century to set the question of ecological balances centre stage. This implies no less than staging an industrial transition from an extractive fossil-driven and massive resource consuming economy to a circular economy and renewable eco-modernity, which also necessarily entails societal transformation. This daunting task, demands massive mobilization of both the public and private economies, as we

ll as strong civic buy-in.

Learning outcomes - Knowledge

The course addresses the core sustainability issues and societal challenges that face energy industry today. It provides tools to approach them and methods to align social sustainability and ecological transition with business models and overall business strategy.

Climate, environment and, ecological transition, and how business strategies can be forged in constructive interplay with government and civil society is given a central place in the course. Particular focus will be given to the industrial interplay with international norms and policy frameworks, like the UN ecology oriented SDGs, The Paris Agreement, EU’s Green Deal, and its Green Taxonomy, the Circular Economy etc.

Human rights, welfare, corruption and other issues pertaining to social sustainability are also important course topics. Particular focus will be given to the industrial interplay with international norms and policy frameworks, like the UN socially oriented SDGs, UN Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations on Human Rights, OECD guidelines on responsible business conduct and human rights; ILO conventions, etc..

The course will address energy industry’s ecological and social challenges and opportunities from a broad set of perspectives taken from current sustainability analysis: This involves a stakeholder perspective, addressing how energy business may engage with its surroundings to gain acceptance and support for its operations. It also includes a business strategy perspective, that focuses on aligning commercial initiatives with social legitimacy and societal concerns.

Given the major shifts in both technology and business models, under green transition, the course includes an innovation perspective with a focus both on necessary technological and business model transformation. And since industrial organization in modern energy industry typically involves extended outsourcing, the course includes a logistics and supply chain perspective on industrial social and environmental sustainability.

As innovation and sustainability-oriented transition typically entails engagement across the public and private interest divide, we include a governance perspective, with particular focus on public-private governance-partnerships in energy industry. The ensuing need for legitimacy naturally adds on a communication perspective.

The major role played by finance in today’s economy has brought socially and environmentally responsible investment in as a central perspective, not the least in shaping energy industry’s climate-transition. The need for information, both with respect to financial evaluation and public regulation adds on a sustainability-oriented reporting perspective.


Acquired Knowledge
This course is designed to provide:

  • basic knowledge of the CSR and sustainability concepts from different perspectives, with a particular focus on energy industry;
  • insights into stakeholder theory and its applications in securing social license to operate by building trust and partnering with communities;
  •  knowledge of relevant tools such as UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, laws and regulations, national and international, to further sustainable development in energy industry;
  • insights into partnered governance arrangements - such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative - where industry and government work together towards transparency and good governance;
  • knowledge of basic business ethics and how to implement it in practical management;
  • insight into green transition and business strategies and partnerships for innovation.
  • Familiarity with the major initiatives driving ecological transformation in energy industry – particularly in Europe: EU’s Green deal, Circular Economy and EU Taxonomy 
  • insights into how sustainability issues may play out in the media and other public arenas, and affect reputation brand value
  • insights into approaches to turning CSR and sustainability into a value driver;
  • Given its salience for energy industry, particular emphasis will be given to familiarize the students with the essentials of climate change, and its strategic implications.
Learning outcomes - Skills

Skills developed upon completion of the course include the abilities to:

  • analyse and meet core sustainability challenges in energy industry;
  • identify ideas for sustainability-based innovation and value creation
  • forge a cooperative dialogue with different stakeholders (including employees, suppliers customers, governments, media and NGOs)
  • review  international legislation, norms and standards related to a business’s ecological and social challenges.
  • develop a strategy, work plan, implementation, report and evaluation of sustainability and CSR in energy industry;
  • address reputation and branding in energy industry from a sustainability perspective;
  • design a communication approach to build trust and legitimate corporate strateg
Course content
  • CSR and Sustainability
  • Stakeholder Theory and Its Applications
  • Tools To Further Sustainable Development In Energy Industry
  • Partnered Governance Arrangements
  • Basic Business Ethics
  • Sustainability Issues In The Media And Other Public Arenas
  • Turning CSR and Sustainability Into a Value Driver
Teaching and learning activities

1 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of 26-30 hours. 

Sessions include lectures, seminars and group work. 

Attendance to all sessions in the course is compulsory. If you have to miss part(s) of the course you must ask in advance for leave of absence. More than 25% absence in a course will require retaking the entire course. It's the student's own responsibility to obtain any information provided in class that is not included on the course homepage/ It's learning or other course materials.

Specific information regarding student evaluation beyond the information given in the course description will be provided in class.

The course is a part of a full Executive Master of Management in Energy (EMME) and examination in all courses must be passed in order to obtain a certificate.

In all BI Executive courses and programmes, there is a mutual requirement  
for the student and the course responsible regarding the involvement of the student's experience in the planning and implementation of courses, modules and programmes. This means that the student has the right and duty to get involved with their own knowledge and practice relevance, through the active sharing of their relevant experience and knowledge.

Software tools
No specified computer-based tools are required.

Granted admission to the Executive Master of Management in Energy programme. Please consult our student regulations.


Deviations in teaching and exams may occur if external conditions or unforeseen events call for this.

Exam category: 
Form of assessment: 
Written submission
Group (1 - 3)
30 Day(s)
The students are evaluated through a 30 days course paper in groups (1-3 members from the class groups), counting 60% of the final grade.
Exam code: 
GRA 85211
Grading scale: 
Point scale leading to ECTS letter grade
All components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course
Exam category: 
Form of assessment: 
Class participation
The students are evaluated through class participation and group presentations, counting 40% of the final grade.
Exam code: 
GRA 85211
Grading scale: 
Point scale leading to ECTS letter grade
All components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course
Type of Assessment: 
Continuous assessment
Total weight: 
Student workload
40 Hour(s)
Student's own work with learning resources
95 Hour(s)
Sum workload: 

A course of 1 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of 26-30 hours. Therefore a course of 5 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of at least 135 hours.