Innovation in Business, Energy, and Environment

Innovation in Business, Energy, and Environment

Course Number 1165

University Professor Rebecca Henderson
Professor of Mgt Practice Joseph Lassiter
Senior Lecturer John Macomber
Professor Forest Reinhardt
Fall; Q1; 1.5 credits
14 sessions

Enrollment limited to 60 (with up to 60 additional students enrolled in FC:IBEE).
A 3-credit version of this course is offered as Field Course: Innovation in Business, Energy and Environment (course number 6611), continuing in Q2.


This course explores advanced and emerging topics in business, energy, and the environment. There is a focus on opportunities for firms whose offerings are significantly involved in or impacted by energy, water, resource efficiency, transportation, and conservation. The course is team taught in one section by the primary faculty of the Business and Environment Initiative.

Career Focus

The course will benefit students who expect to have important product development, division leadership, finance, or consulting responsibilities in business segments that are particularly influenced by issues relating to energy, water, waste, transportation, and the other topics listed below. Organizations studied range from startups to some of the largest companies in the world and include government entities and NGOs.

Educational Objectives

This course seeks to go deep on examination of a few keys types of opportunities for corporate, entrepreneurial, and investment impact with respect to the intersection of business, energy, and the environment. The course draws on the background and research interests of the faculty to focus on new developments and current business issues in their respective fields.

Course Content and Organization

The course moves from more general cases establishing a common background of vocabulary and frameworks into specific circumstances facing businesses whose offerings are particularly engaged in the interaction of business, energy, and the environment. Usually the impact of consumer and social attitudes, as well as political and regulatory processes ranging from carbon pricing to consumer protection must be considered with particular attention in these fields. Topics include key resources like traditional energy, alternative energy, water, waste water, and aspects of transportation; as well as important technologies and business models like renewable energy, batteries, sensors and data, optimization, collaborative consumption, energy efficiency finance, consumer behavior, climate change adaptation, and the circular economy (cradle to cradle). Grading is based on class participation and several written assignments.

Optional Project

Q1 is a 1.5 credit classroom course. The optional Q2 segment is a 1.5-credit independent project of students' own choosing, supervised by the faculty team. Q1 is prerequisite for Q2. Many students will use the Q2 work to explore or advance interests in business plan competitions, larger independent projects in Q3 and Q4, or to gain specialized knowledge prior to the job search process.


"Leading the Global 1000" is a complement in the CSR/ reporting/ standards arena. "Reimagining Capitalism" is a complement with respect to the operating obligations and opportunities of high ambition firms. "Sustainable Cities" goes deeper on finance, design, and innovation in cities and the built environment. Other related courses include "Entrepreneurial Finance," "Energy and Geopolitics," "Real Property," and "Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise."

This course is part of a portfolio of courses relevant to Social Enterprise. For a full listing, see the Social Enterprise Initiative website.