Best MBA Programs for Social, Environmental Impact

The recently released 2011-2012 Beyond Grey Pinstripes survey, the only MBA ranking focused on social and environmental impact, has named the Stanford Graduate School of Business number one in the United States, followed by the University of Notre Dame and Yale School of Management.

Conducted by the Aspen Institute, this independent, biennial survey reflects how academic institutions prepare students to meet the business challenges of tomorrow. Rankings are based on required and elective courses addressing social and environmental impact, and published on relevant topics. For prospective students interested in a more “green” MBA, the results are particularly helpful in illuminating which programs most closely align with their goals and interests.

Stanford GSB leads the pack due to the array of courses the school offers with social and environmental content, as well as classes that directly examine the role mainstream business can play in improving society, the survey authors noted. In addition, Stanford receives high marks for creating an environment that allows faculty to explore these topics in their research, they said.

The Top Ten US MBA Programs

  1. Stanford Graduate School of Business
  2. Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business
  3. Yale School of Management
  4. Kellogg School of Management
  5. UM Ross School of Business
  6. Cornell’s Johnson School
  7. UNC Kenan-Flagler School of Business
  8. UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business
  9. GWU School of Business
  10. Columbia Business School

This cycle’s survey of 149 schools on six continents reveals there has been a 38 percent increase in the number of required courses in finance departments that include social, ethical or environmental content. Additionally, the percentage of surveyed schools that require students to take a course on business and society issues has increased dramatically–from 34 percent in 2001 to 79 percent in 2011.

“The financial crisis caused schools to be more introspective about what they are teaching,” Judith Samuelson, Aspen’s director of business and society, says in this interview. “They were criticized for being part of the problem, and not part of the solution. And that has created an environment where faculty can innovate and make change.”

Paul Rowland, executive director of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, recently told U.S. News and World Report that over the next decade, MBA programs will increasingly offer courses that consider the social, environmental, and financial impact of every business decision, a.k.a. the “triple bottom line.”

At the moment, though, Samuelson says faculty research continues to be mostly theoretical, and often fails to address challenges facing business. “While I understand the inclination of faculty to focus on theoretical issues, it’s important for leadership at top business schools to unleash faculty talents on problems they know business needs to resolve.”

For more information on the Beyond Grey Pinstripes initiative, including scoring methodology and ratings per subject area, follow this link.



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