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 24 – May 8

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,circular economy and cryptocurrencies in Geneva and Switzerland, one of the world’s leading financial centers and a major international hub for international organizations and NGOs. While learning about global finance from a socially responsible and sustainable business perspective and alternative financial systems and intermediation, 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, ethical banking, impact investing, or cryptocurrencies.

During a two-week excursion to Greece, you’ll gain insight about the recent international financial crisis and examine the impact Covid-19 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, sustainable finance and crypto currencies.
  • Learn from experts at top international organizations and financial institutions.
  • Conduct field research, interview experts, build your professional network, and explore professional development opportunities.
  • Visit Athens, the vibrant capital of Greece.

Prerequisites

Previous college-level coursework or background in economics, finance, business administration, public policy, international relations, government, sociology, or 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 and Covid-19 on the country’s financial system and population. You will have the opportunity to visit famous archaeological sites such as the Acropolis of Athens, the site of the oracle of Delphi  and museums, and enjoy local 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 economic and health crises.

Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.

Academics

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the program, students will be able to: 

  • Use the opportunity of an internship experience and field visits to build professional networks with experts at financial institutions, international NGOs, and government agencies. 
  • Explain core concepts of ethical banking, sustainable finance, micro-finance, philanthropy in financial projects, and impact investment to promote socially responsible business practices. 
  • Assess business models by using criteria developed in ethical banking and sustainable finance such as SRI/ESG.  
  • Identify how the solidarity economy helps promote the ideals of social justice. 
  • Explain the alternative financial models of intermediation such as the role of microfinance, micro-credit, and social entrepreneurship.  
  • Examine the concept of Islamic banking and assess the success of the activities of Islamic financial intermediaries. 
  • Assess the drivers/super-forces and mega-trends of finance in the era of the information society, internet governance, block-chain, and virtual reality.   
  • Enhance communicative proficiency in French.

Read more about Program Learning Outcomes.



Coursework

Access virtual library guide.

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 students, 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, alternative financial systems, and cryptocurrencies
  • Ethical banking, sustainable finance, and the circular economy
  • Neoliberal globalization, financial crises, and social responsibility
  • Tax avoidance, money laundering 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, complementary and cryptocurrencies, microfinance and social entrepreneurship, blockchain, and Islamic banking.

French

Beginning French I – syllabus
(FREN1003 / 3 credits)

Intermediate French II – syllabus
(FREN2503 / 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, intermediate and advanced classes based on in-country evaluation, including written and oral proficiency testing.

Independent Study Project or Internship

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 complementary 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, complementary and cryptocurrencies)

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, and outdoor activities. 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 offers you the opportunity to improve your French and gain insight into local everyday life on the Geneva Lake 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
Annette Boogaard
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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