MBA goes green…

Low-impact, zero effluent, fully sustainable. What used to be a fringe obsession has become firmly entrenched in the mainstream, to wit, environmental awareness. At this point, it is hard to imagine folks who haven’t at least heard about issues such as global warming, waste, clean energy, and sustainable resources. The relatively new phenomenon is that big business has found a way to cash in on it.

And if it’s important for business, it’s important for business school. As discussed in Mindy Charski’s recent U.S. News and World Report article, “business schools are reflecting the change in the marketplace by integrating studies of corporate citizenship into their programs.” For example, Stanford GSB offers a course in Environmental Entrepreneurship. HBS has a course called Business and the Environment. As Charski put it, learning how to be ecofriendly is an important skill.

Going green is more than environmental awareness – it can be the next big business concept. For Ron Gonen, the inspiration for Recyclebank came while he was sitting in class at Columbia Business School. Recyclebank seeks to provide homes with a special recycling container housing an embedded microchip. When garbage trucks collect the recycling, they weigh the containers and credit each household’s account points based on the weight of the items they recycled. These points can then be redeemed at merchants such as CVS pharmacies. (see TIME article)

Recent news about business school forays into environmental study is abundant. For example:

1. The University of Pennsylvania joins forces with leaders from US businesses, government and non-governmental organizations to launch a new initiative on business and the environment. The Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL), led by Penn’s Wharton School, will address the environmental issues facing businesses today from academic and policy-oriented perspectives. (see Wharton IGEL and our recent post on the program.)

2. HBS offers new executive education program in China. The program will focus on, among other things, how environmental concerns drive innovation throughout the agribusiness industry. (see HBS EE program)

3. Whitman School of Management helps launch the Sustainable Business Collaboration, designed to “provide insight into the best practices and policies for various sizes of businesses; metrics for sustainable efforts; implementation strategies; and associated long-term benefits to an organization and the community.” (see Sustainable Business Collaboration).

Considering going green? Check out an article on post-MBA employment for green MBAs.

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