Business decisions have a direct impact on all levels of society: economic, social, environmental and cultural. Therefore companies have been encouraged by governments, international organisations and civil society to conduct their business in a ‘socially responsible way’ and to pursue best practices that enhance value in three dimensions: ‘Planet, People, Profit’.
This course on ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ (CSR) will focus on the place of CSR in society and law and the position of the principle stakeholders involved. Students will be introduced in the laws and regulations applicable in CSR-issues, including some aspects of international and European law concerning business, human rights and environmental issues. They will receive general knowledge of the major issues regarding legal topics on CSR, such as the influence of corporate government codes, the responsibility of parent companies for their subsidiaries doing business abroad, contractual remedies in the field of CSR and their limits with a view to market regulation. In addition, they will have the chance to speak, in person, with some of the leading people in the field of CSR.
During this interactive course on CSR, students will collaborate on weekly assignments and participate in discussions on case-law. Using general analytical and practical skill to assess CSR-dilemma’s, students will deduce the relevant questions on CSR from a given case and find the relevant (international) sources. Students will be taught the ability to demonstrate a critical and independent view when confronted with a CSR-issue, and report orally and in writing. Evident basic knowledge of corporate law, private law and human rights is sufficient for participation.
Objectives of the course
The principal objectives of this course are:
to offer an introduction to the theoretical and practical outline of the most salient aspects of CSR in a national and global context;
to introduce the various definitions of CSR and the various contexts in which it is introduced;
to enhance the awareness of the dilemma’s intrinsic in doing business on a global scale;
to identify the instruments that can be used to implement CSR and to assess their nature (voluntary or binding);
to explore initiatives and possibilities in the field of the accounting profession, in search for transparency concerning corporate conduct and extra-financial aspects of doing business;
to understand, interpret and apply legislation, regulation and judicial decisions in the field of corporate law, contract law, tort, competition law, penal law and human rights; and
to introduce the international legal aspects of CSR.
By the end of the course the students should have:
a general insight of the place of CSR in society and law, and the position of the principle stakeholders involved;
a general insight in the laws and regulations applicable in CSR-issues, including some aspects of international and European law concerning business, human rights and environmental issues;
a general knowledge of the major issues regarding legal topics on CSR (such as the influence of corporate government codes, the responsibility of parent companies for their subsidiaries doing business abroad, contractual remedies in the field of CSR and their limits with a view to market regulation); and
a general analytical and practical skill to assess CSR-dilemma’s.
The following achievement levels apply with regard to the course:
the student is able to deduce the relevant questions on CSR from a given case;
the student is able to cooperate with one or more students to solve an insolvency question;
the student has the know how to find assigned (international) literature and other sources in the library and on internet;
the student has the ability to demonstrate a critical and independent view when confronted with a CSR-issue, to reach his or her own conclusions, and report orally and in writing.
The timetable of this course can be found in uSis.
Mode of instruction
Number of (2 hour) lectures: 5
Names of lecturers: Prof. mr. A.G. (Alex Geert) Castermans and mr. dr. C.P.L. (Caspar) van Woensel
Required preparation by students: reading literature, case-law; weekly assignments.
Number of (2 hour) seminars:
Names of instructors:
Required preparation by students:
Other methods of instruction
The assessment of this course is based on two elements:
- Three written assignments consisting of three informed questions each, to one of the leading persons in the field of corporate social responsibility. Each assignment will be graded individually. The average of three grades will make up 10% of the final grade.
- One, final assignment at the end of the course consisting of an essay of 750 words on a dilemma in the field of corporate social responsibility. This essay will make up 90% of the final grade.
Both elements together make up the final grade. All assignments in writing and in English. Re-examination involves both elements.
To be announced in course book and/or on Blackboard.
Areas to be tested within the exam
All subjects taught in the lectures, all required reading (literature, case-law) published here and on Blackboard, all other instructions and skills taught during the course.
More information on this course is offered on Blackboard.
Obligatory course materials
Literature: David Vogel, The market for virtue, Brookings Institution 2005.
For each lecture, literature and case-law will be announced on Blackboard.
Non-obligatory course materials
Suggested literature (for those who wish to add a perspective to the subject): Brian L. Nelson, Law and Ethics in Global Business, Routledge 2005; Bryan Horrigan, Corporate Responsibility in the 21st century, E. Elgar 2010; or Suzanne Benn & Dianne Bolton, Key concepts in Corporate Social Responsibility, Sage 2011.
Registration using uSis.
Co-ordinator: Mr. dr. C.P.L. (Caspar) van Woensel
Work address: Steenschuur 25, room number C.201
Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 1568 or +31 (0)6 1500 5635
Institute: Leiden Law School, Institute for Private Law
Room number secretary: C.202
Opening hours: Daily, 9:00-17:00
Telephone number secretary: +31 (0)71 527 7401
Belangstellenden die deze cursus in het kader van contractonderwijs willen volgen (met tentamen), kunnen meer informatie vinden over kosten, inschrijving, voorwaarden, etc. op de website van Juridisch PAO.