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New Center for Corporate Responsibility Course on edX Online Platform

From Spring 2021, the ZHAW Center for Corporate Responsibility offers "Global Business and Human Rights" as an online course on the edX online learning platform.

As only the third university in Switzerland and the very first university of applied sciences, ZHAW offers courses on edX, a learning platform set up by MIT and Harvard University. The first two ZHAW courses have been online since 6 October 2020: "Global Business and Human Rights" by the School of Management and Law's Center for Corporate Responsibility and "Aquaponics: The Circular Food Production System" by the Departements Life Sciences und Facility Management. Both courses start on 1 March 2021.

"We are pleased to offer the core topics of the Center for Corporate Responsibility to over 35 million learners at edX in the future and to be able to contribute to ZHAW's increasing range of digital education products."

Dr. Ina-Maria Walthert, Center for Corporate Responsibility

edX is a global non-profit organization with the aim to reshape traditional education by breaking down barriers such as cost, location, and access to education. High-ranking universities and leading companies use the edX platform to provide online courses, so-called MOOCs (“massive open online courses”), usually free of charge. Participants who want proof that they have completed a course can request a certificate for a fee.

Human Rights in a Global Economy

This course is coordinated by Dr. Jörg Schmidt, Deputy Head of the Center for Corporate Responsibility and, since 2017, responsible for the development of the ZHAW Business and Human Rights Competence Center, and Dr. Ina-Maria Walthert, Research Associate at the Center for Corporate Responsibility. It deals with the complex relationship between business and human rights in a globalized world. Participants learn how companies are becoming more aware of the human rights risks of their business activities. Once they have identified these risks, they can use various approaches and instruments to manage and improve how to deal with human rights issues.

"All over the world, issues such as working conditions, occupational safety, and the fight against child labor are increasingly becoming the focus of corporate responsibility. This also applies to international supply chains with their extensive worldwide reach."

Dr. Jörg Schmidt, Center for Corporate Responsibility

The online course is divided into three parts: The first part examines human rights from different perspectives (historical, cultural, legal) and highlights the current situation. The second part focuses on topics such as the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights and human rights risk analysis. In the third and final part, concrete case studies are analyzed. To review the learning objectives, participants can work on two topic-specific papers. The online course is aimed at both students and professionals, for example as part of a continuing education program.

Other Online Courses Under Development

The first two ZHAW online courses are offered in English and are therefore suitable for international target groups. Further online courses from various schools and departments of ZHAW are being planned or are already in production. In order to expand the target groups, courses are to be offered in German and English in the future. In addition, a program specially tailored to Switzerland is being developed which will be available on the Swiss MOOC Services platform across Switzerland from 2021.

The Center for Corporate Responsibility is also working on additional courses for the edX platform, including one on "Digital Ethics".


Dr. Jörg Schmidt, Research Associate and Deputy Head, Center for Corporate Responsibility, ZHAW School of Management and Law, phone: +41 (0)58 934 40 73, e-mail:

Dr. Ina-Maria Walthert, Research Associate, Center for Corporate Responsibility, ZHAW School of Management and Law, phone: +41 (0)58 934 76 70, e-mail: