The course sheds light on the reality and plausibility of putting the financial sector at the service of society. Finance is arguably one of the most important sectors today. It is an industry which, not only due to its complexity but also due to its damaged reputation in the recent crisis can potentially provide real solutions to pressing social concerns despite its seeming to be a most unlikely candidate.
The course is designed to follow the money through the investment chain. Students explore how the flow of capital travels from the savers to the corporations in which the money is ultimately invested. Throughout, students reflect on the potential flaws in the system and how to address them to put finance at the service of a sustainable real economy.
The course is unique in the MBA program as it applies anthropological research methods to case study teaching thus encouraging students to critically engage with the workings and assumptions behind financial practices. This notably implies reflecting on the (unequal) distribution and valuation of capital in the world as well as the systemic bias underlying most financial products.
Once the problems identified are well understood by students, the course elaborates on potential innovative solutions arising from sustainable finance, from conservation impact bonds to Indigenous-led financial intermediaries or blockchain technology.
The final project consists of offering a financial innovation that could help contribute to sustainable development. Over the past years, several students’ projects came to fruition and became real financial products.