Program Structure

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Holistic and Impactful Learning

The holistic approach of the Mannheim Master in Sustainability and Impact Management guarantees that impact management will become an integral element of all operational areas of the company.

We have devised a program structure and course contents that will provide impactful learning.

Participants become proficient in essential management skills with a specific focus on challenges of the future like sustainable impact management in an increasingly digitalized environment. Insights into current best practices from various companies and industries as well as personal skills courses round off the program.

An Overview of the Program Structure

The Mannheim Master in Sustainability and Impact Management is organized in modules that build on each other over a period of 24 months. This allows you to retain full-time employment throughout the program and apply your newly acquired knowledge directly at your workplace. (Click to enlarge the chart)

  • Core Courses

    The core courses lay the foundation for the three key areas: Sustainability and Impact Management Knowledge and Methods; Basic Management Knowledge with a Focus on Sustainability Challenges; and Change Management, Personal Skills Development and Collaboration.

  • Elective Courses

    Electives help you deepen your knowledge in your specific areas of interest and focus on your career goals.

  • Sustainability and Impact Management Master Project

    Working in a team with your fellow students, you will apply the knowledge and methodologies acquired throughout your studies in a hands-on project for one of our partner companies.

  • Personal Skills

    Essential program elements such as the Sustainability and Impact Management Master Project require that you work with classmates in heterogeneous teams, just as you would at your workplace. Personal skills courses (e.g. presentation skills, agile methods, etc.) foster the necessary key qualities you need for management positions.

  • Workshops

    The program includes regular workshops where participants can take a deep dive into current topics and practical challenges. These events further provide room for networking and exchange of knowledge. Over and above individual learning, we aim to create a community that fosters peer learning.

The Course Contents in Detail

Make an impact. Please find a detailed description of the individual courses of the Mannheimer Master in Sustainability and Impact Management below.



  • Materiality, Risk Assessment and Reporting

    When building their sustainability strategy, managers need to understand the company-specific materiality of certain sustainability domains and topics from stakeholders‘ as well as their own perspective and the resulting risks and potential rewards.

    Frameworks of materiality analysis and domains of sustainability impacts that are relevant for reporting serve as a basis for the company to develop their individual approach to sustainability.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • gain an overview of the theoretical foundations of materiality analysis, risk assessment, and reporting guidelines;
    • they learn how to apply methods of materiality analysis and risk assessment to develop a sustainability strategy for a specific company;
    • and they critically reflect on existing frameworks and guidelines (e.g., GRI versus CSR-RUG).


  • Sustainable Business Modeling and the Circular Economy

    The sustainability issues that humanity is facing induce and urgent need to rethink and redesign existing business models to manage the transition to a more sustainable economy.

    In this context, the idea of a circular, instead of a linear economy has gained increased attention, i.e., an economy in which is regenerative by design and aims to decouple growth from the consumption of finite resources.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • gain an understanding of business model design and circular economy;
    • they learn how to rethink and redesign business models to reduce the company‘s negative impacts;
    • And they reflect on possible future developments and conditions needed to enable a positive transition to a more sustainable economy.
  • Impact Measurement and Valuation

    Following the „what can‘t be measured can‘t be managed“ logic, organizations have increasingly introduced scientific methods of impact measurement to make their sustainability-related impacts transparent and comparable. Some organizations have further started to assign monetary values to these impacts. This practice is referred to as valuation.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • gain insights into the state of the art of method development for impact measurement and valuation;
    • discuss how introducing these methods affects the organizational structures and processes;
    • and engage in a critical discussion about benefits and potential difficulties of impact measurement and valuation.
  • Digitalization, Data and Sustainability

    Digitalization plays a crucial role for sustainability. On the one hand, the mega trend of digitalization incurs new sustainability and responsibility issues, as, e.g., increased energy consumption, electronic waste, data security, or scarcity of resources. Against this background, the term "Corporate Digital Responsibility" has been coined. On the other hand, digital innovations help to create more sustainable products, consumption patterns, business models, and can be applied to increase transparency about sustainability impacts (e.g., through artificial intelligence or blockchain solutions).

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • discuss the potential negative and positive impacts of digitalization on sustainability;
    • they learn about new corporate responsibilities in the digital era and their ethical implications;
    • and they reflect about potential future developments and impacts on firm strategies.
  • Sustainability Communication

    Sustainability communication can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, stakeholders want to be informed about an organizations‘ impacts. On the other hand, talking too much about one‘s own sustainability achievements may lead to perceptions of greenwashing and trigger stakeholders‘ skepticism. Further, new communication pathways, e.g., via social media offer avenues for two way communication and dialogue which so far, remains underexplored by many organizations.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • gain knowledge about the basic approaches to effective sustainability communication;
    • reflect on potential threats of wrongly designed sustainability communcations;
    • and discuss current developments and trends with regard to sustainability communication methods.
  • Corporate Sustainability Management

    At the core of the sustainability transformation of organizations is the sustainability management team which develops strategies, measures impacts, collects and analyzes data, engages with stakeholders and prepares reports. The way in which sustainability is managed in companies varies greatly with organizations having a single sustainability manager to ones that have committees spanning all functional areas.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • gain insights into how sustainability can be organized and managed in companies;
    • discuss what potential advantages and drawbacks of different approaches are;
    • and reflect on how the field of sustainability management will likely evolve in the future.
  • Impact Investing

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  • Emerging Topics in Sustainability

    The topic of sustainability is fast changing. Companies and industries have to adapt to new regulation, new competition, and new consumer demands on a regular basis. This requires the ongoing anticipation of upcoming trends and emerging topics and the development on strategies to prepare for them.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • learn about methods to future-proof businesses for upcoming sustainability challenges;
    • discuss current emerging topics related to sustainability and their potential impacts on businesses;
    • and reflect on strategies to successfully prepare businesses for such disruptions.
  • Climate Change and Decarbonization

    Climate change means the warming-up of our planet driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases, as well as the shifts in weather patterns that results from this development. In the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change, 196 Parties have set the goal to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.

    To reach this goal, many companies have developed climate targets, including goals for carbon neutrality or climate neutrality, some of them using offsetting techniques to make up for their own impacts.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • gain an understanding of climate change and its causes and potential remedies;
    • study the climate goals of organizations and the strategies to achieve them;
    • and critically assess the current status quo with regard to decarbonization.
  • Sustainability Frameworks and Regulation

    Frameworks of sustainability and guidelines for business conduct to ensure sustainability have quickly evolved over the last decades. Until today, the debate about the dimensions of sustainability and respective indicators of sustainability performance is not yet resolved and many see corporate responsibility as an essentially contested concept. Consolidation and standardization are necessary steps to ensure effective regulation, reporting, and thus transparency.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • develop an overview of the development and current multitude of sustainability frameworks;
    • study the existing and upcoming regulatory frameworks for sustainable business;
    • and form their own understanding of the concept of sustainable business and its implications for management.


  • Change Management and Organizational Dynamics

    Making an organization more sustainable oftentimes means introducing change to the organization which may lead to resistance. Such change processes have to be carefully designed and managed to be effective and managers need to have a clear understanding of stakeholder attitudes and organizational dynamics.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • learn the basic theoretical concepts with regard to organizational change management;
    • engage in discussions about the potential implications of sustainability-related change on organizations and their employees;
    • and gain insights into methods that can be applied to sucessfully manage such transformations while engaging the organizational members.
  • Understanding Market Dynamics and Consumer Demand

    Markets are key drivers of sustainability and an increasing consumer demand for sustainable products has led to mainstream retailers including sustainable products into their portfolios. At the same time, in many industries, what consumers report in surveys with regards to their sustainability attitudes differs greatly from what they really do at the checkout (referred to as the consumer paradox). Companies for instance frequently complain about a lack of willingness-to-pay for sustainable products. Understanding market dynamics and consumer demand are thus urgently needed skills to steer towards sustainability.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • gain an understanding of market dynamics and consumer demand for sustainable products and services;
    • learn how companies can use market research methods to analyze these developments;
    • and discuss how companies can activate consumers to engage in more sustainable consumption practices.
  • Socially Responsible Accounting and Taxation

    In the management of sustainability, accounting plays a crucial role to enable decision makers to include sustainability impacts into their decision making. Many organizations are this redesigning their accounting systems to include sustainability-related information. Further, over the last years, the public awareness of tax evasion practices has continuously increased. While these practices may be legal, a strong social norm is emerging that views avoiding tax payments as socially irresponsible. Instead of making large donations, many argue, companies should start by paying their taxes.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • learn the basic concepts and theories related to socially responsible accounting and taxation;
    • discuss the role that accounting and taxation play in the area of social responsibility and sustainability;
    • reflect on how the field of accounting and taxation may develop in the upcoming years given the increasing role of sustainability.
  • Platforms, the Sharing Economy and New Forms of Organization

    Markets are currently disrupted by the emergence of new forms of organizations, e.g., sharing economy platforms. These new forms of organizations often leverage the power of information and communication technology and sometimes circumvent traditional market regulation. While many of these new business models may have positive effects on planet and people, they are also increasingly critically discussed for their potential adverse impacts.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • get to know the basic concepts with regard to platforms, sharing economy, and new forms of organizations;
    • critically discuss the potential positive as well as negative impacts that these new business models may have for sustainable development;
    • and reflect on how these business models may evolve in the upcoming years.
  • Sustainable Finance

    The European Action Plan for Financing Sustainable Growth, or Sustainable Finance Action Plan, focuses on the Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) fields of activity in order to achieve sustainability goals together with the financial sector.

    This is also accompanied by binding legal requirements for companies. The EU taxonomy, for example, represents a uniform classification system for sustainable economic activities and investments for six defined environmental objectives.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • acquire basic knowledge about foundations of sustainable finance;
    • they learn to understand how ESG data can be applied to evaluate the sustainability of investments;
    • and they critically discuss the current and prospective developments in financial markets.
  • Responsible Corporate Governance

    Environment-Social-Governance – Governance is one of the three key pillars of sustainable business and the key to realizing positive impacts on people and planet. Various organizations have redesigned their governance to not only ensure responsible business practices, but also to incentivize and thereby shape the sustainability transformation.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • learn the basic concepts of responsible corporate governance;
    • discuss how corporate governance can support and enable an organization‘s sustainability transformation;
    • and engage in an discussion about potential future developments in the area of responsible corporate governance.
  • Socially Responsible People Management

    At the heart of the sustainability transformation lies the creativity and motivation of managers and employees who shape these developments. Thus, besides responsible people management to ensure the equal treatment and well-being of employees, people management has developed into a toolbox to empower the employees to be intrapreneurs and co-creators of sustainability-related innovation processes. Further, many companies have realized that employees expect their employers to take a proactive stance in the sustainability transformation.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • develop an understanding of basic concepts in responsible people management;
    • gain insights into the various links between people management, social responsibility and sustainability;
    • and discuss how people management can be leveraged to accelerate the impact management of the organization.
  • Sustainable Operations and Supply Chains

    Sustainability should start within the own four walls and companies need to examine their own operations in the attempt to find potential for sustainability improvements. Over and above, an increasing discussion relates to corporate responsibilities for supply chain impacts, i.e., not just in tier 1 suppliers but even further upstream the supply chain. Managing these impacts necessitates a deep understanding of environmental as well as social impacts in the own and in suppliers‘ business operations.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • study the foundations of sustainable operations and supply chain management;
    • discuss cases and current issues pertaining to the sustainable management of operations and supply chains;
    • and engage in a critical outlook on the development of the supply chain management and regulation.
  • Compliance and Codes of Ethics

    The proliferation of corporate scandals over the last years has illustrated how important it is for organizations to ensure that ethical norms are known and followed by their members. The field of compliance management and the tool of codes of ethics have thus received increased attention and many companies have set up respective units. Some companies even use gamification methods to teach employees about codes of ethics. Recently, the topic of compliance has further moved center stage due to new ethical risks through digitalization.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • learn the basic of compliance management in organizations
    • discuss current developments in the field of compliance management
    • reflect on how codes of ethics can be developed in a prticipative way and implemented in the organization to maximize effectiveness.


  • Partnerships for Sustainable Development

    The mere existence of SDG 17 – partnerships for sustainable development – indicates that no one can solve the pressing sustainability challenges which we are facing alone. We need effective partnerships, also across borders of organizations, industries, countries and companies, to find effective solutions to sustainability problems.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • learn about the crucial role of partnerships for sustainable development;
    • gain knowledge about the underlying concepts and theories related to partnerships for sustainable development;
    • and discuss how such partnerships can be effectively incentivized, designed, and managed.
  • Social Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship

    Over the recent year, the traditional distinction between for profit and non-profit organization has been shifted to allow for a new variety of organizations in between. Specifically, social entrepreneurs have increasingly set out to use market-based business models to solve social or environmental issues and make a positive impact. Further, social intrapreneurs are increasingly contributing to the sustainability transformation of large organizations with some companies even setting up structured programs to support them.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • Gain an understanding of the concept and role of social entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship;
    • Learn about the ways in which entrepreneurship can contribute to various sustainability domains;
    • And critically discuss the political ind institutional developments around varying forms of organizations.
  • Entrepreneurial Thinking and the Changemaker Mindset – Elective

    Sustainability is a new topic for many organizations and to transform existing business processes, employees and managers of the future need entrepreneurial thinking and a changemaker mindset.

    Anecdotal evidence from best practice firms shows that having people with such a mindset in the organization can enable firms to not only  be more sustainable, but also innovative, agile, and resilient.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • learn what it means to adopt a changemaker mindset and entrepreneurial thinking to further the sustainability goals of the company;
    • gain insights into examples of companies that successfully leverage the power of their people;
    • and practice their own entrepreneurial thinking and changemaker skills.
  • Purpose and Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility – Elective

    More and more companies define and proclaim their higher purpose beyond making profits. This implies that companies reflect upon their core business activities and competences and how they can leverage them to have a positive impact on people and planet.

    In many companies, this implies that traditional social responsibility activities are redesigned to be an expression of the higher purpose of the specific organization while providing opportunities for participation for the companies‘ stakeholders.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • learn about the current purpose trend in business and the resulting implications for impact management;
    • gain insights into companies that have defined a purpose that fits their core competences and bring this purpose to life;
    • and critically discuss the implications of an increasing socio-political involvement of corporations.
  • Stakeholder Engagement and Sustainability Dialogues – Elective

    Given the manifold impacts that businesses have on their stakeholders, voices have grown louder that they should allow these stakeholders to have a say in how the business is governed and how decisions are made. Over the last years, an increasing number of organizations has developed way in which a wide variety of stakeholders can actively voice their opinions in stakeholder engagement and dialogue formats.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • learn about the concepts of stakeholder engagement and dialogue;
    • get insights into current practices with regard to stakeholder engagement and dialogue;
    • and discuss how the field will likely evolve in the upcoming years given developments around social media and big data analytics.
  • Sustainability Analytics and Evidence-Based Management – Elective

    The increasing availability of large amounts of data, including unstructured data, as well as new methods of analyzing such data have fueled the existing debate around a need for more evidence-based management. Thus, many companies are facing the challenge to build a structured approach to handling existing data and gaining insights from additional data sources. This is especially important in the field of sustainability, as companies need up to date knowledge on stakeholders and markets to successfully steer through this transition.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • acquire a basic knowledge of the concepts and methods of evidence-based management;
    • gain insights into how big data analytics can help to manage sustainability;
    • and apply their newly learned skills to real data sets.
  • Sustainability Games and Education – Elective

    Sustainability is a new topic for many organizations and their members. Gamification offers manifold opportunities to educate members of organizations about sustainability topics in an engaging and effective way. Companies are already adopting such techniques, for instance in the field of compliance management and codes of ethics.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • Learn about basic concepts of gamification;
    • Gain an understanding of how they can be applied in the field of sustainability education;
    • And develop an own game-based approach to teach a specific sustainability-topic.
  • History of Sustainability – Elective

    Sustainability is a trending topic today. Still, it has a long history and thoughts on resource efficiency and sustainable models of organization and exchange have been around for centuries. Delving into the history of sustainability can help to understand not only the roots of today‘s sustainability movement, but also the complexities of the current sustainability transformation.

    Learning Goals – In this course, participants...

    • Gain insights into important chapters from the history of sustainability;
    • Discuss the relevance that historical texts on sustainability have for today‘s developments;
    • And reflect on how these insights can best be leveraged to steer the sustainability transformation.

All information is subject to approval by the university committees. Therefore, changes to study design and content as well as admission requirements are still possible.

Elective courses are subject to class size and availability.

Contact Person

Katja Gold
Admissions Manager Mannheim Master in Sustainability and Impact Management


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