COURSE TITLE: Ethics and Decision Making in Green Product Design: Business, Science, and Policy Perspectives




INSTRUCTOR: Christine Rosen






MEETING DAY(S)/TIME: Wednesday 2:00 – 4:00PM during Spring A (1/18, 1/25, 2/1, 2/8, 2/15, 2/22 and 2/29).




CLASS FORMAT:  mixture of lectures and cases – seminar approach




BASIS FOR FINAL GRADE:  mixture of class participation and  short papers




This 1 credit seminar will explore a host of social, political, legal, and business issues raised by society’s efforts to transition to a green economy in which products and materials are designed to minimize damage to human health and natural ecosystems. We will examine these issues through an ethics lens.  Some relate to the personal ethics of the individual, others to the social responsibilities of business firms and other organizations. As the harmful impacts of many existing products and the need to develop alternatives are recognized, chemists and other scientists are having to rethink and possibly change common practices in their university labs and corporate workplaces. This can place them in a variety of difficult positions that raise personal ethical dilemmas.   Business managers, NGO campaigners, public health officials, environmental and health scientists face similar ethical questions about priorities, costs, and benefits in their work places as they consider whether and how to take action to improve the safety and environmental sustainability of the myriad products produced and sold in today’s global markets.  The course will explore these dilemmas and raise the question of what responsibility individuals and organizations have to themselves and society at large to adopt new social norms and new behaviors, even if not formally required by governing institutions.


Ethics also form a critical element of how societies make public policy and organizational decisions that can affect human health, ecosystems, resources, and the environment.   While these decisions purport to rely on technical issues of science and economics, they in fact often turn on our ethical postures toward economic growth, future generations, other species, and distributive justice within and between societies worldwide.  The course will explore the impact of these ethical issues on environmental  policy making, and the role of scientists, business leaders, and the leaders of public interest groups in determining – and contesting - public ethical determinations relating to green product and materials design.


This course is offered in conjunction with two other courses that student may take concurrently:  Environmental Health Methods for Green Chemistry and Engineering (PH 290) and Toxicology for Green Chemistry (Chem 290). 





Chris  Rosen is an Associate Professor at Haas.  She has a PhD from Harvard in American History.  She taught the first MBA courses here at Haas on Corporate Environmental Strategy and Management, as well as (with Drew Isaacs) a course on Energy, Sustainability and Business Innovation. Her research focuses on the intersection between business, the environment, management, and policy – in the past, the present, and future – and on the ways that understanding the past can help us make sense of today’s problems.  She is finishing up a book, Mindsets and Movements: A History of America’s Early Struggles with Industrial Pollution, and  has written about the importance of the leadership roles played by business leaders in movements to regulate pollution and the urban environment, the impact of regulation on the development of pollution abatement technologies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and environmental supply chain management in the computer industry.  She is the Associate Director for Business and Economics of UCB’s new Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry. 


Alastair Iles is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Policy and Management (ESPM) in the College of Natural Resources.  He earned law a JD from the University of Melbourne (Australia), a Masters of Law degree in human rights from Harvard Law School, and a Ph D in environmental policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.  As a Ciriacy-Wantrup Postdoctoral Fellow here at Berkeley, turned his attention to environmental science and technology studies and energy justice, and more recently, green chemistry and the development of the bio-chemicals industry, sustainable consumption, and green food.   He is the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry’s Associate Director for Policy and Law.


Joe Guth is a Research Scientist in the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry and the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health in the School of Public Health. He is also the Legal Director for the Science & Environmental Health Network (SEHN), an NGO that is working to incorporate precautionary environmental policy into law.  His current research interests include Green chemistry, chemicals policy and law, including the intersection between policy development in the European Union, the United States and California, and the design of decision-making structures in environmental law that promote long-term preservation of ecologically functioning earth systems.  In the past he has moved between working for industry and environmental NGOs, including serving as the Executive Director of the California League for Environmental Enforcement Now (CLEEN), as Vice President and Associate Chief Patent Counsel for Chiron Corporation,  as an Associate at Fish & Neave, a New York city law firm that focused on intellectual property,  and a Senior Project Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.