Switzerland

Banking, Finance, and Social Responsibility

Discover the dynamic fusion of macroeconomics and global finance with social responsibility and sustainable business in Switzerland and Greece.

At a Glance

Credits

16

Prerequisites

Relevant previous coursework

Language of Study

French

Courses taught in

English

Dates

Jan 27 ‎– May 10

Program Countries

Switzerland

Program Excursion Countries

Greece

Program Base

Nyon/Geneva

Critical Global Issue of Study

Development & Inequality

Development & Inequality Icon

Overview

Why study global finance in Switzerland?

Combine your interest in ethical banking, sustainable finance and circular economy in Geneva, one of the world’s leading financial centers and a major international hub for international organizations and NGOs. While learning about macroeconomics and global finance from a socially responsible and sustainable business perspective, you’ll build networks with experts at leading financial institutions, nongovernmental organizations, universities and think-tanks. You’ll have the option to intern with a sustainable development company, start-up, or intergovernmental organization or a Swiss or international NGO or conduct research in sustainable development and finance, circular economy, ethical banking, or impact investing.

During a two-week excursion to Greece, you’ll gain insight about the international 2008–09 financial crisis and examine the impact it had on the country’s financial system and economy. You’ll get a first-hand view of the recovery and state of society from Greek and international experts on the ground. You’ll also experience the richness of Greek culture, history, and cuisine.

Highlights

  • Get a background in ethical banking and sustainable finance.
  • Learn from experts at top international organizations and financial institutions.
  • Conduct field research, do interviews with experts and explore professional development opportunities.
  • Visit Athens, the vibrant capital of Greece.

Prerequisites

Previous college-level coursework and / or other significant preparation in economics, finance, business administration, or alternatively in public policy, international relations / government / sociology, ethics and social responsibility, as assessed by SIT.

Excursions

Greece

During a two-week excursion in Greece, you’ll spend time in Athens exploring Greek history, culture, and cuisine while getting an up-close look at the impact of the Greek economic crisis on the country’s financial system and population. You will have the opportunity to visit famous archaeological sites such as the Acropolis of Athens and museums and enjoy local and taverns and the Mediterranean lifestyle.

Economic Crisis and Recovery

In Athens, meet with Greek and international experts and visit financial institutions like the Center of Planning and Economic Research (KEPE) to learn about measures taken to bring the economy back from the brink. You’ll also have a lecture at the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE), a privately-funded think tank, where you’ll learn about the growth prospects of the Greek economy after the crisis.

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

Academics

Coursework

Access virtual library guide.

The program’s thematic seminars address challenges presented by the global economy and implications of domestic policy approaches that aim to reduce inequality. Besides ethical banking, sustainable finance, and impact investment, the coursework includes alternative financial systems such as solidarity economy, complementary currencies, microfinance, Islamic banking, blockchain technologies, as well as banking laws, and social policies promoting growth, justice and social progress.

The program seeks to facilitate a deeper understanding of the ethics of sustainable business and social enterprise by exploring viable approaches for profitable business to reduce social injustice and global poverty and protect the environment.

The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term. The syllabi can be useful for student, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Key Topics

  • Islamic banking and alternative financial systems
  • Ethical banking, sustainable finance, and the circular economy
  • Financial intermediation systems and risk
  • Neoliberal globalization, financial crises, and social responsibility
  • Ethics of banking, tax avoidance, and criminal financial investigations 

Research Methods and Ethics of Banking and Finance

Research Methods and Ethics of Banking and Finance – syllabus
(ETHC3500 / 3 credits)

This seminar covers the financial code of ethics and addresses sustainable financing, socially responsible investment (SRI) issues, ethical banking, legal and practical aspects of integrating environment, social justice, and corporate governance (ESG) issues to institutional investment. The seminar gives a detailed overview of major institutional actors in European and global networks in the field of banking and sustainable financing and the legal tools in the fight against tax avoidance and money laundering. This course is highly practice oriented, with field visits and briefings at companies, organizations, or NGOs. Lecturers are drawn from academic institutions, nongovernmental organizations, government agencies, and research centers, and are experts in their fields.

Alternative Financial Systems and Intermediation

Alternative Financial Systems and Intermediation – syllabus
(IBUS3000 / 4 credits)

Banking institutions thrive on financial intermediation, the process through which banks take funds from a depositor at a low rate of interest and lend them to a borrower at a higher rate of interest. However, recent successive crises in the international financial system have drawn attention to the important role played by financial intermediaries. Alternative financial intermediation systems are defined as non-market (stock or bond) and non-modern banking sources, including external financial channels that make it possible for an individual or a small enterprise to access credit that would not otherwise be available to them through conventional banking systems. Alternative financial channels are proving to be equally important funding sources in both developing and developed countries. This seminar aims to explore alternative forms and practices of financial intermediation (formal and informal) and their role in the empowerment of individuals and groups that are usually not serviced by conventional banking channels and institutions. Modules include solidarity economies and intermediation, local and complementary currencies, microfinance and social entrepreneurship, blockchain and crypto currencies, and Islamic banking.

French

Beginning French I – syllabus
(FREN1003 / 3 credits)

Intermediate French I – syllabus
(FREN2003 / 3 credits)

Advanced French I – syllabus
(FREN3003 / 3 credits)

This course has an emphasis on speaking, comprehension skills, and grammar through classroom instruction to provide broader access into the host culture and enable participation in daily social life. Students are placed in intensive beginning or intermediate classes based on in-country evaluation, including written and oral proficiency testing.

Two Course Options

Choose between the following two courses:

Independent Study Project in Finance
Independent Study Project in Finance – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 6 credits)

For the Independent Study Project in Finance (ISPF), students will do six-week fieldwork and design a project that carries an innovative proposition to address banking or finance issues from a social responsibility perspective. Projects may include proposals for a sustainable business, regulatory mechanisms for financial control and ethical account reporting, or promotion of local and alternative currencies. Regular reflection and assessment meetings are held with the academic director and academic advisor to review the progress of the ISPF.

Sample ISPF topic areas:

  • Awareness level of sustainable finance issues among bank workers and consumers
  • Profit-generating potential of ethical bank products versus classical bank products
  • Role and efficiency of multi-stakeholder initiatives in the field of ethical investment
  • Gaps in the existing sustainable finance regulatory system
  • Alternative ways of financing new initiatives and their risks (e.g., crowdfunding, local and alternative currencies)

OR

Internship and Seminar in Finance
Internship and Seminar in Finance – syllabus
(ITRN3000 / 6 credits)

This seminar consists of a six-week internship with a sustainable development company, impact investment institution, start-up enterprise, intergovernmental organization, or Swiss or international NGO. Students do an internship and submit a seminar paper in which they process their learning experience and design a socially responsible solution to a problem observed during their internship. The aim of an internship is to enable the student to gain valuable professional experience within the Swiss or international financial environment. The institution and internship activities must be approved by the program’s academic director. Regular reflection and assessment meetings are held with the academic director and academic advisor to review the progress of the internship.

Internship and Seminar in Finance:

Internship Placements in Past Semesters (partner institutions may change from term to term).

Homestays

Nyon

A homestay with a local family in the French-speaking canton of Vaud will enrich your cultural experience during the program. Located on the shores of Lake Geneva, the canton of Vaud offers a combination of countryside, small towns, outdoor activities and historical sites. The historical town of Nyon, where the SIT program office is located, offers a magnificent view of the Jura mountains and French Alps just on the other side of the lake.

Living with your homestay family for almost the entire program, you will have the opportunity to improve your French language skills and gain insight into local everyday life on the Lake of Geneva Riviera. You will commute to classes and program activities in Geneva, just like the locals, using the excellent Swiss public transportation system.

Other Accommodations

You will stay in a hostel during the orientation period in Switzerland and in student apartments during the study trip in Greece.

Faculty & Staff

Switzerland: Banking, Finance, and Social Responsibility

Goran Jovanovic, PhD
Academic Director
Christina Cornes, MA
Homestay Coordinator
Joe Apostolidis, MA
Academic Coordinator
Aigul Jarmatova, MA
Academic Advisor

Discover the Possibilities

  • COST & SCHOLARSHIPS

    SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

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