Accounting and the Sustainability Ethos

Course code ACFI3007
Available in 2016
2015 Course Timetables


This Course takes an interdisciplinary approach in introducing third-year Bachelor of Commerce students to ways of facilitating societal learning about sustainable development in the face of increasing environmental degradation, and despite uncertainty inherent in the science of climate change. Students will tease out theoretical constructs that should inform any process of measuring attributes of sustainable performance, and will critically evaluate the usefulness of this information to enable society to embark on a journey of engaging with the sustainability ethos in a responsible manner.



  • Semester 1 - 2016

Learning Outcomes

1. Demonstrate an integrative understanding of the theoretical concepts supporting the accounting representations of the sustainability processes.

2. Demonstrate current knowledge of developments in thinking about sustainability as a concept.

3. Work independently and collaboratively in critically analysing problem scenarios and employing conceptual social learning constructs to formulate solutions.

4. Identify, analyse, evaluate and communicate information reflective of emergent accounting approaches and contexts.

5. Incorporate economic, social and ecological sustainability within personal and future professional practice.


The course includes the following topic areas:

  1. What is sustainable development? Linking the economy to society and the environment in the context of history of connection between ecology and culture.
  2. Overview of components of the sustainability discourse: Measurements (carbon footprint, foodmiles), Market mechanisms (Emissions Trading), Regulatory tools (Carbon tax, Environmental protection agency), bottom-up participation via social learning.
  3. Theoretical constructs to engage with (1) and (2): Uncertainty in science of climate change, Beck's risk society, Arygris' double loop learning, Simons' concept of bounded rationality, Newell's psychology of decision making, critical discourse analysis of stakeholder accounts and emergent frameworks of holistic accountability.
  4. Measuring consequences of human activities: critique of existing frameworks e.g. conventional accounting, cost benefit analysis, corporate social reporting and triple bottom line accounting.
  5. Measuring consequences of human activities: an examination of emergent vehicles of measurement.
  6. Accounting and eco-innovation.
  7. Benchmarking for sustainability: is it relevant?
  8. Waste and sustainability: exploring the connection.
  9. Reshaping business ethics to link the economy to society and the environment: Ulrich's Integrative Economic Ethics.
  10. Auditing environmental management systems: a universal concept.
  11. Governance and climate change: Risk and responsibility (Bulkeley, 2001).

Assumed Knowledge

ACFI2003 Management Accounting

Assessment Items

Presentation: Class Presentations

Written Assignment: Written Assignment

Written Assignment: Written Assignement 2

Contact Hours



Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for 13 Weeks


Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for 12 Weeks