Broadly speaking, the goal of this class is to provide students with both the theoretical and practical knowledge to understand the current challenges in accounting for firms’ ESG goals. In this rapidly evolving field, the course will be structured in four modules:
- Module #1 reviews the need for sustainability accounting and provide an overview of the providers of ESG metrics and the limits of current aggregated ESG data.
- Module #2 present various market-based mechanisms to create ESG standards
- Module #3 discusses regulatory initiatives to create ESG information for listed firms
- Module #4 departs from non-financial disclosure and discusses the limits of current accounting standards and introduce new developments to incorporate ESG characteristics into traditional financial statements.
While ESG encompasses a vast body of topics, this class will draw examples and discuss about a diverse set of issues ESG, including carbon emissions, employees pay, employees labor-safety, and the role of consumers’ NGO, based on short examples or cases spanning different firms in different industries (e.g., wholesale, aviation) and different countries (e.g., USA, France, Japan).
This half-term course is composed of a mix of lectures, cases and online or in-person interventions by high profile industry guest speakers. The lectures are motivated by (1) rigorous recent academic studies drawing from the accounting literature, but also borrowing from adjacent fields including economics, finance, law and strategy and (2) practitioners notes and examples.
Who should take this course?
Students should take this course if they are interested in ESG in general and/or if they expect to use disclosure of non-financial information in their career. This is particularly relevant for students who want to pursue careers in finance (e.g., investment banking) where firms’ ESG footprint is becoming a scrutinized factor in M&A or investment decisions in general, as well as students going to careers in consulting where corporate decisions will more and more be benchmark against their ESG implications.
Please note that this course does not require students to have pre-existing knowledge about ESG.
Associate Professor of Business
Thomas Bourveau joined Columbia University in 2018. He previously served on the faculty at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He obtained in PhD in Management Science from HEC Paris. He teaches financial statement analysis in Columbia Business School's MBA program. Professor Bourveau primarily conducts empirical research. His research lies at the intersection of accounting, law, and economics. He is most interested...