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2018/2019  KAN-CCMVI2045U  Impact Investing and Finance

English Title
Impact Investing and Finance

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration Summer
Start time of the course Summer
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 60
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Thomas P Duffin, PhD Bryn Mawr College, td.acc@cbs.dk
    Thomas Duffin - Department of Accounting (AA)
For academic questions related to the course, please contact the course instructor.

Other academic questions: contact academic director Sven Bislev at sb.msc@cbs.dk
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Finance
  • Sociology
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 29-05-2019

Relevant links

Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • Critically evaluate the exciting potential for businesses to make real change while at the same time view the risks that mission gets sacrificed when profits are on the line.
  • Clearly articulate and engage the most important criticisms of the field of impact investing and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses
  • Demonstrate a strong foundation in understanding contemporary measurement techniques of social impacts and their advantages and limitations
  • Demonstrate a conceptual sophistication and deep understanding of Impact Investing and its various manifestations and how it is impacting all of our communities
  • Make a compelling case as to which social problems may be most likely successfully addressed by impact investors and which are less likely and why
  • Articulate what steps society and governments can do to steer impact investors in the right direction.
Course prerequisites
Bachelor degree in social science, business or equivalent
Impact Investing and Finance:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
Assignment type Project
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Summer, Ordinary exam: Home Assignment: 25/26 June - 29 July 2019. Please note that exam will start on the first teaching day and will run in parallel with the course.
Retake exam: Home Assignment: 72-hour home assignment: 8-11 October 2019 – for all ISUP courses simultaneously
3rd attempt (2nd retake) exam: 72-hour home assignment: 25-28 November 2019 – for all ISUP courses simultaneously

Exam schedules available on https:/​/​www.cbs.dk/​uddannelse/​international-summer-university-programme-isup/​courses-and-exams
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Retake exam: 72-hour home project assignment, max. 10 pages, new exam question
Exam form for 3rd attempt (2nd retake): 72-hour home project assignment, max. 10 pages, new exam question
Course content and structure

This course is designed to explore and evaluate Impact Investing, the goal of which is to not only generate financial returns but to also promote social benefits. This exciting area has broadened recently and has gained attention from some of the largest philanthropic foundations and asset managers. It has also drawn its skeptics from academia who are convinced that when profits are on the line, the social mission gets sacrificed. We will engage a critical perspective by surveying such topics as Socially Responsible Investing, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Microfinance and Microlending, Social Impact Bonds (SIBS) and how these all relate to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's) as articulated by the United Nations. We will learn about impact measuring techniques employed by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) and by B Labs Impact Assessment and IRIS. We will evaluate the challenges of microfinance via a case study of the initial public offering (IPO) of Compartamos, a Mexican bank famous for reaching many people otherwise left out of traditional banking, but infamous for enriching its Wall St IPO underwriters. From a similar critical perspective, we will evaluate public-private partnerships such as social impact bonds and employ a case study of a program designed to reduce prison recidivism funded by Goldman Sachs.


Preliminary assignment:For a preliminary assignment please read the below readings for the first week.  Virtually all of these readings are available for free electronically from CBS library. For the assignment, please read the below and consider what is meant by the term Impact Investing, how it has transformed, and how it may be over-used. Come to class prepared with a question to discuss about the possibilities of this new form of collaborative capitalism and also come prepared to discuss how and why it may not fulfill its broad promises. 
Bugg-Levine and Emerson, pps.3-38  
Clark, Emerson, Thornley. The Impact Investor.  Jossey-Bass. pps. 19-57 
Shiller, R. (2012). Finance and the Good Society. Princeton University Press. Pp.xiii-15 
Jonathan Morduch. “Not So Fast: The Realities of Impact Investing”. In: Americas Quarterly (2011) http://www.americasquarterly.org/not-so-fast-the-realities-of-impact-investing


Class 1: Introduction and History: Exploring the roots of impact investing. The case for impact investing. Blended value and collaborative capitalism.


Class 2: Socially Responsible Investing (SRI): The shifting landscape of SRI. Negative and positive screening. Performance of socially responsible mutual funds.  Shareholder Activism and Corporate Social Responsibility. Expectations of shareholders/investors. Certified B corporations

Class 3: United Nations and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's). We will visit UNCity and attend a lecture. Can capitalism help solve poverty?


Class 4: Philanthropy and the Private Sector. The venture-capitalist as entrepreneur. We will also debate whether this same venture capitalist is serving the public or maintaining the status quo while feeling virtuous.


Class 5: Public Policy and the Public Sector.  Guest lecture by Head of Sustainability and Corporate Governance Investeringfonden for Udviklingslande (IFU). We will consider the role of public/private partnerships in creating sustainable solutions to seemingly intractable problems in third world countries.


Class 6: Microfinance and Microlending. Risks and rewards of scaling microfinance. Serving poor people and enriching investors. Possible to do both at the same time?

Feedback activity:Students will turn in their research question and proposed mini-project for feedback from the instructor. Instructor will provide feedback as to whether the student is on the right track to meet the course objectives.

Class 7: Social Impact Bonds. Alternative funding mechanisms for social problems such as prison recidivism. 


Class 8: Measuring and Reporting Impacts. GIIN (Global Impact Investing Network) and IRIS (Impact Reporting and Investment Standards). 


Class 9: Mission Preservation and Financial Performance 


Class 10: Practical applications. Guest speaker from the Danish pension system will discuss how they invest for social impact and how they report measurements.


Class 11: Social Business: Creating viable, social businesses. Review of dilemmas of impact investing raised throughout the course.


Description of the teaching methods
A combination of lecture, guest lectures, group discussion and small group projects will be employed in each session. Each class session will have three components on each topic: 1.) what can go right 2.) what can go wrong and 3.) what will happen. Students will be encouraged to evaluate the pros and cons of the various topics and draw conclusions as to likely outcomes. The objective is for students to develop a critical perspective of Impact Investing and Finance and its impact on various communities.
Feedback during the teaching period
All Home Project Assignments/home assignments are based upon a research question (problem formulation) formulated by the students individually, and must be handed in to the course instructor for his/her approval no later than 12 July 2019. The instructor must approve the research question (problem formulation) no later than 17 July 2019. The approval is a feedback to the student about the instructor's assessment of the problem's relevance and the possibilities of producing a good report.

In order to provide potential feedback for students who take the make-up exam, we will review in class the exam format and typical questions to ensure that students will experience no surprises during the exam and will know beforehand if they are on track for successful completion. Students will work together in groups on the questions and feedback will be provided by the instructor in class.
Student workload
Preliminary assignment 20 hours
Classroom attendance 33 hours
Preparation 126 hours
Feedback activity 7 hours
Examination 20 hours
Further Information

Preliminary Assignment: To help students get maximum value from ISUP courses, instructors provide a reading or a small number of readings or video clips to be read or viewed before the start of classes with a related task scheduled for class 1 in order to 'jump-start' the learning process.


Course timetable is available on https://www.cbs.dk/uddannelse/international-summer-university-programme-isup/courses-and-exams


We reserve the right to cancel the course if we do not get enough applications. This will be communicated on https://www.cbs.dk/uddannelse/international-summer-university-programme-isup/courses-and-exams end February 2019 at the latest.



Expected literature

Mandatory readings:


The Impact Investor: Lessons in Leadership and Strategy for Collaborative Capitalism.
By  Cathy Clark, Jed Emerson and Ben Thornley.  Jossey-Bass 2015.

Additional relevant readings:


Impact Investing:  Transforming How We Make Money While Making a Difference.
By Anthony Bugg-Levine and Jed Emerson.  Jossey-Bass, 2011.

Last updated on 29-05-2019