Business students are benefitting from a ground- breaking new course at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The business, society and the individual course, provided by the School of Business, analyses the role of business in relation to social issues and uses interactive teaching methods. Upon completion of the compulsory course, students obtain one credit for their overall studies. The course, introduced by Professor John Hulpke, a lecturer in the Department of Management of Organisation, is the first of its kind on offer at a local university for business students. The first day of the two-day course focuses on ethics. The second day focuses on environmental issues. Second year students Sarina Drummond and Lee Ka-wang were among the first batch of students taking the course at the beginning of this term. The two said the course had helped them gain a better understanding of business practices in relation to social issues, ethics, the environment, technology and discrimination. ICAC officers were invited to give talks on business ethics and students were presented with cases studies for discussion. Students could vote on questions at the touch of a button through the personal response system developed by the Department of Physics. During the lunch break, groups of students were required to find two books and two Web sites related to business ethics. They were also assigned to find news articles discussing companies' real environmental records. They had to post their findings on newsgroups for the class to discuss later. Professor Hulpke also talked on businesses' relationship with the environment in real life. At the end of the first session, students were assigned projects on environmental issues to be presented in the next lesson. Students completed questionnaires at the end of lectures to test their understanding of the subjects covered. The course ended with students going on an organised trip to clean up beaches near the university. Ms Drummond and Mr Lee said they had not expected to pick up rubbish on a beach. Ms Drummond, who welcomed the course, said: 'Business and social issues are inter- related. ' Although business decisions are driven by the market, they should take social issues into account.' The second year information system and management student found the 'TV rule' useful. She said: 'The rule is that before making each decision, you should ask yourself whether you would announce it on television. If you would, then go ahead with the decision.' Mr Lee, a second year human resources management student, found the course practical for business students. 'Very few businesses are aware of social issues when they make decisions. 'Making a profit is their first priority. So, it's good to think about the relationships between business and social issues,' he said.