CSR education in Europe

Best Masters and Courses


Presentation written by:

Diego MARTINEZ, martinezdiego26540@gmail.com

Evan NICHILO, Evan-nichilo@orange.fr

Paul MATEUSIAK, paul.mateusiak@gmail.com

Presentation supervised by: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Elena M. BARBU, elena.barbu@univ-grenoble-alpes.fr


Table of contents :


1 Some courses related to CSR in France

1.1. Is ethics taught in short courses?

1.2. Do the managers of tomorrow have bases in CRS?

1.3. Can we say that all the signals are green for engineering schools?

2. The best Masters related to CSR

2.1. In France

2.2. In Europe

3. Opening of the topic

3.1. The integration of a CSR philosophy in education

3.2. Companies and their involvement in this topic

3.3. The State and its involvement in this topic: some examples


Sources – Websites

4. B) Companies and their involvement in this topic :

Annexes :



  1. Introduction

In a capitalist world, lulled by a market economy and an increasingly widespread globalization, one could doubt about a hypothetical, ecological and social awareness. However, some countries as well as some universities have taken over some ‘’Corporate Social Responsibility’’ (CSR) aspects by encouraging companies to be more responsible. The term CSR was used, it can be defined as: “A company’s sense of responsibility towards the community and the environment (both ecological and social) in which it operates. Companies expressing this citizenship (1) through their waste and pollution reduction processes (2) by contributing educational and social programs, and (3) earning adequate returns on the employed resources”.

An important question can arise, is this CSR movement only a fashion or a real necessity to hope for a better future. On this thorny issue, many universities have taken a decision on this question. Indeed, for many years, a multitude of universities have set up programs related to CSR. As much for the engineers as for the managers of tomorrow, they are offering more responsible training to drive a better future. Today, companies are facing a strong social requirement, both in terms of ecology and environment. At the same time, there is a change in the wage environment, in particular, the working conditions and the related risks. Faced with this awareness of some companies, a large number of diverse formations have emerged in Europe. We can notably distinguish the appearance of new courses in connection with the CSR, teaching the future managers or engineers the best methods. The universities have even gone further by creating specialized masters, not forgetting the impulse of new management methods, or constraints more respectful of the environment for engineers. Then, we will present a comparison between France and other European countries, in order to determine its place. For that, we will briefly present courses offered by universities, we will continue with the presentation of the masters before finishing with some ideas which could make possible the extension of the notoriety and pass a message to the greatest numbers.

Some courses related to CSR in France

In front of the need to change things, higher education is at the forefront. Therefore, a very large number of institutions have decided to offer students an introduction to CSR, by integrating courses into school program presenting more ethical practices in the hope that they will be applied later in the professional world. In this first part, we will present in which format are the courses in France (we will only focus on France in this part).

We observe that the place of the CRS in France increases more and more. Left aside only a few years ago, nowadays the number of courses exploded recently. We hope that this will drive a radical change in the way companies operate. A large number of higher institutions have therefore taken on the responsibility to add compulsory courses in their curricula. This change is not only restricted to business schools, because BTS, engineering schools as well as universities have in the same time become aware of the importance of the issue. Unfortunately, we are not able to give an exhaustive list of the various courses offered in France, but we will present a small range to allow you to get a better idea.

Is ethics taught in short courses?

We have chosen to begin this part with a BTS. Indeed, this training lasts only 2 years, often as a sandwich course, so it is perfect to impulse new methods to future young professionals.

BTS MUC (Management of Business Units): This BTS offers ethic courses to deal with CSR, concept of sustainable development and Socially Responsible Investment. In order to apply the learned concepts, the training also requires a case study to put the elements into practice. The BTS MUC leads to sales manager positions or assistant store manager. Thereby, it is important to provide them with new solid foundations, but we can imagine that similar courses will be extended to many other BTS.

However there is a very large number of BTS in France, it would be too long to list them, but few of them offer courses to raise students’ awareness. We could easily imagine that ethics courses would be very used in “BTS communication”, “BTS assistant-manager” or even “BTS in construction” for example. Despite a lot of research, we have found only one BTS with courses of CSR in its program. So, there is still a lot of work for the BTS, which could, nevertheless, be an undeniable asset to drive a new guideline. However, we can notice the lack of courses named CRS or ethics courses. Indeed, it is possible that some BTS teachers integrate the notion of ethics in courses, including management courses. We found many videos of courses in management in which the professor notes the importance of ethics. That is why it is difficult to say that all BTS do not have an ethics course, because teachers can import this notion into courses.

Do the managers of tomorrow have bases in CRS?

At the same time Business Schools as well as Graduate Schools of Management (IAE) are also beginning their transformation. Of course, it is difficult to group all the courses, so we chose a Business School and a Graduate Schools of Management in order to compare them. We took institutions in the same city.

Regarding the Business School, we chose GEM “Grenoble School Management”. This institution offers admission from the first year after the baccalaureate. We took as an example, the “Bachelor in International Business” (BIB). But there are no courses, either in 1st year or 2nd year that are linked to the CRS. So, it is only in the 3rd year that the school offers courses of ethics in the first semester and contemporary issues or sustainable development in the second semester. Therefore, we observe that the CRS occupies an important place in this institution, the subject is really addressed in the 3rd year. We took the example of this specific establishment, but this awareness is extended to all other Business schools in France.

However, it can be observed that the presence of courses according to the years depends on the schools. Indeed the ISC of Paris proposes the opposite way, it imposes business ethics common core course during the first year, whereas the theme will not be approached any more during the next two years. And in the broader sense, all Business Schools are at least aware of the CRS. A study, made in 2013, had analyzed the 29 Business Schools to see their level of ethics. Olivier Rollot even said in October 17, 2016 that “The schools are expected on ethics…”.

As in Business Schools, PSIs have also made the choice to set up courses related to ethics. To take a concrete example, the Grenoble Graduate School of Management, an institution that trains tomorrow’s managers, allows students to become aware of SRI, CSR but also of the environmental issue. This discovery is made during a course which presents the major issues but also solutions to overcome the problems. This course is compulsory during the sixth semester, and it is entirely in English. However, it is regrettable that this course is only offered to one part of the class, the other half being in a semester abroad.

As Lyon Graduate School of Management also offers a course named “ethics and politics contemporary societies”, it also proposes, for their masters students, courses taking into account the CRS. This includes the Human Resources Master with a course of ethics and managerial responsibility “and” health, work condition and RPS” in the first year of this Master. Regarding the Graduate Schools of Management, they also deliver courses in ethics like business schools.

Therefore, we can say that the awareness of management schools is a great thing, because the working conditions and the social problems have been steadily increasing in recent years. They take into account that the learning of a management more responsible and more respectful can be profitable to the companies. However, the environmental stakes must not be disregarded. Nevertheless, we will take a look at engineering training in order to identify their concerns.

Can we say that all the signals are green for engineering schools?

As far as engineering schools are concerned, there are a very large numbers of them, some of them are training their employees with a greater vocation to train the managers of tomorrow. So, engineering schools have a major role to play in. Indeed they play on several boards, as well on the environmental, social and even ethical aspects. We are going to show you the place that the CSR can occupy in the different structures of engineers. It will be very difficult to make a complete list of all the courses of all the engineering courses in France so we have selected a small number of them from different schools.

Our first focus is the “École des ponts, Paris tech”. This institution is recognized to train engineers in civil engineering. The school has chosen to take responsibilities to train future engineers in more respectful design methods. This desire has been confirmed in the school’s “strategic plan”, which emphasizes the significance of “Responsibility companies of the “grandes écoles””. The environmental stakes are also very important. Therefore, it is proposed, in the first semester, courses with the objective of providing students with “sustainable solutions”. The school brings a philosophy incorporating courses dealing with the challenges of tomorrow. Despite the choice of specialty for the next two years, the establishment continues to offer courses with respectful solutions for our future. Its students are also trained in managerial positions, but many opening courses allow students to learn more suitable postures.

But not all engineering schools train in very specific areas, there are more general schools. For example the “mining schools” which means “les écoles des mines” which offer more general trainings with a strong part dedicated to management. To support our comments, we have chosen the Mines’ school of the city of Albi, which a wide range of training but focusing on energy and manufacturing processes. This establishment proposes an interesting number of courses related to CSR, including in the first year an “awareness of energy problems”, but also ethics courses in English with the aim of learning to manage difficult situations. From the second year, ethics courses are more in-depth and in particular implemented through innovation courses, where students will have the obligation to make decisions while keeping in mind the ethical aspect.

In general, most of the engineering schools take into account sustainable development and the ethics concerning the new management methods.


  1. The best Masters related to CSR

In this part, we will study the different Masters available in France in a first time, then in Europe in general. The goal is to learn a little bit more about the different fields of these type of Masters, the place where they are in France and in Europe, all the establishments which own these Masters, the access conditions, the different formation costs and the different training methods.

In France

In France, the ‘’CSR’’ movement is in a growing process. Indeed, there are more and more universities which feel concerned by current sustainable, ecological and social trends. So, we will see the characteristics of these Master’s degrees.

First, let’s have a look on the 10 best Master’s degrees we can find in France in 2017:

  1. ‘’The Léonard de Vinci Institute’’ : Master of Business Administration specialized in the CSR Management and organizations performances.
  2. ‘’The Gustave Eiffel IAE (Graduate School of Management), at the Paris-Est Créteil and Paris-Est Marne la Vallée universities’’ : Master 2 degree specialized in the CSR Management.
  3. ‘’The Paris-Dauphine university’’ : Master 2 degree specialized in the sustainable development and the organizations responsibility.
  4. ‘’The Catholic Institute of Paris’’ : Master 2 degree specialized in the fair economy and the market logic.
  5. ‘’The Higher Institute of Studies in Alternation of Sustainable Development – in Paris, Marne-la-Vallée’’ : So this is a Management Master degree which can be done alternately with a company. It is specialized in the Sustainable Management and the CSR.
  6. ‘’The International Terra Institute – in Paris’’ : Master of Business Administration and Master 2 degree in Law and Management, specialized in Corporate Social and environmental Responsibility.
  7. ‘’The Lumière Lyon 2 university – UFR of economic sciences and Management’’ : Master 2 professional degree with a professional contract, specialized in Social and Solidarity Entrepreneurship, Social and Solidarity Economy course.
  8. ‘’The IAE-Lyon School of Management’’ : Master degree specialized in Social Auditing and Accounting, Social Responsibility of Stakeholders, Ethics and Sustainable Development.
  9. ‘’The Aix-Marseille university’’ : Master 2 degree in Human Resources and Responsible Management of organizations with Alter Management and CSR specialties. CSR and Sustainable Development expert.
  10. ‘’IRCOM – Institute of Public Relations and Communication – Next to Angers’’ : Master in International Solidarity Management and Social Action.

So we easily see that there are a lot of opportunities if we want to start a career in this field and we don’t have to forget that this is just a small part of all the possibilities. The main and the most recognized degrees are based in Paris but other big cities like Lyon and Marseille are beginning to develop their CSR university Master degrees.

We saw the main places, the fact that there are different types of establishments which allow the possibility to follow a CSR Master degree like: Institutes, Universities, Business Schools, and Schools of Management. We also saw that there are different training methods like full-time education, lifelong learning (‘’formation continue’’), block release training courses (‘’alternance’’) and internships.

Now, let’s focus on the access conditions to these degrees and other important elements. To do so, we are going to analyse a specific degree in details. For instance, the first Master degree of the ranking. For this one, it is a long and tedious process for hoping to be hired because it needs at least a ‘’BAC+4’’ university degree or a ‘’BAC+5’’ higher school degree and it is better if you come from an engineer training course, a political science degree, the university in general, a company and going back to school. According to statistics, 72% of the students came from a ‘’BAC+5’’ degree in 2016-2017 and the most of them came from the university (65%).

Concerning the selections, it is necessary to make an application file and to answer to some questions. After that, this is a selection interview, a motivation interview, you have to send your CV and your cover letter, and there is also a writing test.


About the costs, the training is, in a certain way, totally or partially funded by a host company (long internship alternating agreement, apprenticeship contract, professionalization contract …). For a full-time education, it will cost you 8900€ individually anyway, so you can fall back on a personal financing or a bank loan. Obviously, there are also degrees that are completely free.

The total training period is about twelve months. It is possible to choose the full-time period from October to April with an internship of few months, or, the part-time period with professional contract with a company from October to October of the next year.

About the educational content, there are different major courses like:

  • Strategic Management and Sustainable Development (70 hours)
  • CSR Management (61 hours)
  • Economic performances and evaluation tools (64 hours)
  • Social performances and evaluation tools (55 hours)
  • Environmental performances and evaluation tools (59 hours)
  • Sustainable Development Project Management (34 hours)
  • Missions and professional integration (86 hours)

In these courses units, we can find different kind of lessons like : new business models in innovation and sustainable development, change management and actors’ concertation, responsible purchases, life quality at work (QVT), life cycle analysis and eco design and business conferences. These school disciplines are aim to train new professionals and to give them all the tools needed to become a responsible employee.

After a degree like that, you can plan to begin a career as a Sustainable Development Project Manager, CSR Coordinator, Environment and Sustainable Development Manager, Ecology advisor, in charge of energy; social; sustainable development and societal studies…

These employees of tomorrow will help companies to adopt a more “territorial” strategy, target support actions in priority for SMEs and VSEs and rethink the evaluation of “responsible” practices by taking more into account the specificities of companies and their environment, according to their job of course.

Concerning the average salary after a degree like that, it’s about 40K€ per year generally.


One of the most relevant and important point is that this institute has a lot of company partners in this field and the most of them are based around Grenoble and our region like : Veolia, Capgemini, Ernst and Young, Company 21 etc. So we can say that our region is a great option if we want to launch a career or develop our skills in this work field.

The different courses presents in these degrees are quite the same and have the same goal. The only main difference is the major course. Indeed, it’s possible to choose a CSR Master specialized in Human Resources for example, in Project Management or in Finances.

In Europe

For this second part, we will analyse some European Masters degrees in other countries but not in details, the goal is to have a general idea of what kind of degrees are proposed by the different countries. We’ll see that the CSR movement is also well present in other European countries.

On the first hand, we will look into the many different possibilities. In Germany, which it recognize as an advanced country ecologically speaking, there are some available CSR Master degrees. In the ‘’Steinbeis University of Berlin (Institute Corporate Responsibility Management)’’, there is a Master in Responsible Management (Master of Arts in Responsible Management). It is a fifteen-month part time degree and there is no information about the price. According to the website : ‘’The objective of the Master’s Program is to champion responsible management by developing a new generation of business leaders capable of handling the complex challenges faced by business, society and the environment in the twenty-first century’’. Students learn the responsible management within the business context, with some theoretical debates, business ethics, theoretical and practical skills needed to be responsible managers. According to the description, the goal of this Master degree is to ‘’develop the capabilities of students to be future generators of sustainable value for business and society at large, and to work for an inclusive and sustainable global economy’’. The same Master degree exist with a ‘’Project Competence Study’’ pathway that is more appropriate to become a Project Manager for example. So we see that the learning methods are a little bit different, like in debating about topics etc.

To continue with this country, the ‘’scientific and technology’’ field is also concerned by the CSR. Indeed, in the Cologne University of Applied Sciences, there is the possibility to choose a Master of Responsible Sciences : REM which means Renewable Energy Management. This is a full-time degree with four semesters.

Let’s see with another country. There are some possibilities in the United-Kingdom too, in ‘’The London School of Economics and Political Science’’. For example, a Sustainable Development and Environmental Management Master degree, which has a good ranking in general, according to the ‘’Eduniversal Masters Ranking of 2017’’ which selects the best Masters worldwide.

To pursue with this ranking, the first Master degree recommended is based in Italy, at the ‘’Università Bocconi’’. It’s a Master in Green Management, Energy and CSR. According to the website of the university concerned, this degree allow students the possibility to build ‘’A professional career in a multi-disciplinary topic characterised by growing momentum and increasing interest of economic actors and international organizations’’. Concerning learning school program, it gives a chance to students to have some skills and abilities required to face new challenges. ‘’Energy, renewable resources and energy efficiency, climate change and carbon management, corporate sustainability strategies and sustainable business models, corporate social responsibility, environmental and urban planning are some of the subjects that are confronted throughout the Master. With more than 500 hours of teaching, about 400 hours of internship in leading organizations in energy and sustainability, integrated with workshops, field project and company presentations, this degree is open to graduate students and young professionals from different disciplines’’. So it’s like the French Graduate Schools of Management system, all the students are coming from very different field of studies.

There are also some possibilities in Spain : CSR and Sustainable Development and Environmental Management Masters degree in Madrid European Open Business School, International Master in Sustainable Development and CSR in EOI Seville’s School of Industrial Organization. In Sweden : Sustainable Development and Environmental Management at the Stockholm University, Department of Human Geography. Moreover in Portugal, Finland, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Ireland, Poland, Hungary, Norway, Slovakia.


  1. Opening of the topic 

At the beginning of this report, we have identified and introduced the different educations and courses that some European universities teach to their students about the CSR. We can deduce that the students’ education is an important factor concerning the future of the companies and the environment. Nevertheless, we are going to extend this topic to other actors who also have an impact on the CSR and who can lead to concrete solutions for the future. Indeed, the companies and the States can support the setting up and the development of a philosophy which favors this notion in the production process and the protection of the environment.

The integration of a CSR philosophy in education

As mentioned before, students’ education is an essential factor for the reputation of the company and for the State. Young people represent the future of companies. Therefore, with the increase of the desire to have a better social responsibility, the companies are wise to favor the recruitment of recent graduates. These latter have qualities similar and compatible to the policy of the company which would be to respect the environment and the human factor (the workforce). Thus, it is important for the university to train their students to the CSR. It is better to do that as soon as possible to fix in their learning and in their way of thinking of the CSR aspect.

Nevertheless, is it preferable to include this concept to a simple course or to include it to the whole syllabus?

The current society promotes companies and States which value the respect of the ethics and the environment. Therefore, several masters in Europe, and particularly in France, aim to sensitize their students about the social responsibility aspect, not with one simple course in their master but rather through a body of knowledge. It can be through internships and conferences that the master has to anchor a vision of the CSR in the way of thinking of these future workers.

In our current society, there is an awareness related to sustainable development and the CSR which is growing at the national and international level. Thus, universities start including these notions within their syllabus as a real learning issue for their students.

Universities have understood this notion and they take it into account favoring the CSR approach through the majority or part of the courses proposed by the syllabus (such as the Grenoble Graduate School of Management (IAE) during its bachelor’s degree in “Economics – Management” through courses like “corporate social responsibility, economics, purchase management and so on) rather to propose one simple course dealing with this topic. It is important to develop the young people’s sensitivity as soon as possible (example: in the high schools). Nowadays, the integration and the awareness of this issue among the young people begins earlier and earlier in some cases especially by the fact to inculcate the recycle process in children and teenagers’ mind. This awareness can be integrated by teaching children to help the poor people by doing fundraising initiative at school and so on.

Companies and their involvement in this topic

The concept of CSR is not just a simple effect but it is a real awareness on an international level. Indeed, the society attaches importance to this concept in the fifties and sixties (for example there were the book published in 1953 by H.Bowen named “Social Responsibilities of the Businessman” and the one published by G.Goyder in 1961 named “The Responsible Corporation »), due to the behavior of the companies on the environment.

This concept has become more and more important in the society which has impacted progressively the strategy of companies concerning their management and the production process. Nowadays, in France, the CSR has taken a huge place within companies because some of them are trying to get some certification labels proving that they have a responsible approach.

Companies represent an important factor in this change of mentality in the society because, today, the CSR has become essential for companies. Indeed, with the importance that the society grants to the CSR (which takes into account the ethics, the environment and so on), the reputation of the companies is threatened. They have to invest in this change, for example, by training their employees to a positive management that is to say that they have to take into account the impact of their decisions on the environment and the workforce. So, it is important for the managers that the project is in compliance with the policy of social responsibility of their company. Thus, the manager has to keep in mind to be inspired by the countries where the level of satisfaction at work is higher; the training can be proposed to the engineers in order to produce goods which respect the environment. The CSR vision within a company might have consequences on the strategy of the company and changes it in order to respect the ecological and human constraints.


Some solutions are available to companies to improve their social actions. Indeed, companies can also get more involved by subsidizing universities and associations by examples so as to promote some responsible causes. They can also make partnerships with universities or Business Schools in order to set up training programs which respect social and environmental constraints and the expectations of the companies.

Through these partnerships, companies can have a better reputation concerning their social responsibility but also a new point of view from the new workers that they are used to working with some methods which include the social responsibility.

Students can get access to a professional experience and some courses (and/or oral presentations) made by a professional. This can be made by internships (in the country or abroad), by cooperative training courses or by continuing education (in which employees can go back to university to get a diploma).

The senior lecturer in ethics at Sorbonne, Arnaud Pellissier-Tanon said that : “I involve companies which have for example draft an ethical charter, and which come to explain their approach to students, or employees who encounter a problem in their work, to sensitize students to the responsible management”[1].

Moreover, one of the French specificities is that companies have to pay a “training levy” to help to finance the cooperative training courses in their region.

To sum up, companies are essential in the CSR vision and this is what impacts directly the universities in their process to integrate a learning more focused on the CSR in their education. The recent graduates will be able to work in the social responsibility vision in their company. Nevertheless, companies are facing an issue concerning the “generational transition” between recent graduates and the older generations. This issue can be positive for the company from the point of view of “transfer of knowledge and experience” but it can be a risk of conflicts within the company.

The State and its involvement in this topic: some examples

States also represent an essential actor in the CSR. Indeed, companies, in addition to their will to be more responsible, are controlled by their states law and by the European Union law. Thus, States and companies have to respect these laws and those orders by the conference of parties 23 (COP 23) :

In France, companies have to pay the “training levy” and the companies of more than 250 employees have to employ at least 5% (of their payroll) of people who are in cooperative training courses. Otherwise, they have to pay a tax named “additional contribution to learning”. This carries out the companies to develop the relationship with universities. This impacts indirectly the motivation of the university to develop the CSR aspect in their syllabus.

Moreover, the States of the COP 23 have taken some decisions that they have to respect. This conference influences a lot the strategy of the companies in their social responsibility aspect (so these influences indirectly the universities).

Indeed, since the COP 21, the European countries which are part of this organization (such as France, Sweden, Germany and so on) want to reduce their greenhouse gas emission (for example CO2, methane…). Therefore, they have established a carbon tax to limit the CO2 emissions.

The countries of the European Union are also regulated by laws (such as the labor code limiting the hours of work per week and prohibiting child labor and so on) that companies have to respect in order to respect the ethics of their State.

Thanks to these examples, we conclude that the States have a direct impact on the strategy of the companies and on their social responsibility aspect. So, this influences the university and the syllabus that they offer to students.



In conclusion, one can say that the short training courses start to take into account the CSR, but only in minority even if some teachers try to integrate it into their courses. On the side of Business Schools, the place of the CSR is increasingly important, because the majority of schools offer CSR courses; we can hope that the ethical aspect is addressed into all courses thereafter. Regarding engineering schools, the number of CSR courses offered is rather large and varied.

Concerning the CSR Master degrees, one can say that there are a lot of opportunities in France and in many other European states. This movement is constantly increasing and universities are investing a lot in courses like CSR.

Moreover, the CSR is a concept which appeared at the beginning of the sixties. And nowadays, universities have understood the concept of CSR and more and more of them involve this aspect in their syllabus. Nevertheless, it is essential to integrate this notion as soon as possible in the teenagers ‘education.

The companies and the States have an impact on the universities which integrate this aspect on their syllabus because they take on board the needs of the other actors to develop the CSR.


Sources – Websites 

I) Some courses related to CSR in France :

A) Is ethics taught in short courses ?

B) Do the managers of tomorrow have bases in CRS ?


C) Can we say that all the signals are green for engineering schools ?

II) Masters :

A) In France :

B) In Europe :

III) Opening of the topic :

A) The integration of a CSR philosophy in education :

B) Companies and their involvement in this topic :

C) The State and its involvement in this topic : some examples :

Annexes :

  1. http://www.novethic.fr/actualite/entreprise-responsable/isr-rse/comment-enseigner-la-rse-a-l-universite-132235.html