Ceres and Berkeley School of Law Announce New Executive Education Course for Corporate Directors on Overseeing ESG Risks


INSIGHT by Ceres

| The sustainability nonprofit Ceres and the Business in Society Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, are proud to announce the launch of a new executive education course ESG: Navigating the Board’s Role designed for directors of corporate boards.

Convened by Professor Amelia Miazad, founder of the Business in Society Institute and Veena Ramani, Senior Program Director, Capital Market Systems at Ceres, the six-hour self-paced online course will pinpoint how corporate board members, whose legal duties and strategic roles are distinct from management, can embed environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations into board strategy and risk oversight.

Companies are increasingly taking the financial risks and opportunities associated with ESG factors into consideration. This momentum has been propelled by a growing focus on ESG from investors, as well as other stakeholders including employees, customers, and regulators. Investors are increasingly demanding that boards focus on ESG risks, and have demonstrated their concern by pouring $45 billion globally into ESG-focused funds in this year’s first quarter. But ESG is a complex landscape. From diversity to supply-chain due diligence to reducing carbon emissions, ESG issues cut across vastly different corporate functions. As this course will reveal, ESG is not a discrete set of issues, but a powerful process that board members can leverage to manage risk and increase business advantage.


| “Given the growing financial impacts that ESG factors have on corporate success and risk management, boards should inform themselves on what these issues are and how to integrate ESG considerations into their responsibilities as directors,” Ramani said. “Being equipped with knowledge and information is fundamental to good decision making.”

| Professor Miazad noted, “Ultimately, the duty to oversee risk rests with the board of directors. Investors are increasingly asking corporate board members to consider ESG factors because it makes companies more resilient to risk. Yet, many ESG initiatives are operational and fall within the purview of management. While many courses conflate the roles of the board and management, we have carefully designed this course to define how corporate directors can embed ESG into their risk oversight duties.”


The online course includes a series of lectures led by Professor Miazad and Ramani as well as interviews with corporate board directors, investors, and ESG experts, supplemented by curated reading materials.

The course will explore these critical areas in board governance of ESG:

  1. Engaging with investors on ESG
  2. Building ESG competency and fluency on the board
  3. Structuring board committees for ESG oversight
  4. Aligning executive compensation with ESG performance
  5. Identifying, assessing, and mitigating ESG risks
  6. Disclosing ESG risks and opportunities

Ceres and Berkeley Law will offer a pilot course from November 9, 2020 to January 15, 2021 with limited enrollment, and offer the course for a larger enrollment beginning in February 2021. This course is designed to be completed in six hours and registration is available here.

For more information and registration, please visit the course webpage.

| about

Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy. For more information, visit ceres.org.

The Business in Society Institute at Berkeley Law studies the changing role of companies in society and its impact on corporate law and corporate governance. For more information visit law.berkeley.edu/bisi