With the recent economic recession, the business world is unfortunately looking as grim as our planet's environmental condition. Business is waning, many people are unemployed, and the mad production rates of just a few years ago have slowed down drastically.
Yet just as environmentalists are looking for a way to clean up the mess and come up with long-term solutions, the world is also looking for a more sustainable economy. Business and environmentalism do not have to fight each other, they can peacefully go hand in hand. Knowing this, I've been looking to do a green MBA. Scanning what's out there, this is what I've found.
As Bloomberg Businessweek noted in an article about the surge of green MBA programs: "In a world beset by economic woes as well as environmental problems-- from the scarcity of natural resources to climate change--sustainability represents one of the few potential bright spots in an otherwise dismal recruiting environment."
The educational programs that will be training the next generations of business men and women have taken notice, and made alterations accordingly.
As a result many green MBA programs have sprung up, even among some of the most prestigious schools. (Of course, is it also a little greener to do an online MBA and telecommute picking up those MBA business tips, in order avoid all the environmental effects of moving and commuting.) Based on what I've read and heard from friends looking to "green" their MBA, these appear to be the top choices.
Offering a dual MBA and MPA in Sustainable Management, the Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco has built a curriculum based around three central concepts: sustainable systems, leadership, and business foundations. John Lehnert, a consultant for Expansion Media who began an MBA program at Presidio earlier this year, gave me his firsthand account of the green MBA degree and curriculum:
"The great reward of this program - with the mindshare of systems thinking - is the regularity with which my old assumptions are disrupted, as I learn how much fundamental change is needed to get the planet healthy again... Does that all sound squishy for b-school? Maybe at first glance, but it's what will work for companies in it for the long haul: looking as systems for impacts and influences, working with stakeholders and not just shareholders, and managing products and services even after they leave the factory or office. It's the only way we'll have the future we want. I'm loving the journey to get there."
You can steal a partial list of John's green MBA reading list here.
A university as renowned as Stanford has a strong reputation in many fields, and so it is no surprise to see that it is offering a strong MBA program. Its Graduate School of Business now offers a twist, though, in the form of a Business Strategies for Environmental Sustainability program. The program covers a range of issues related to sustainable business, and "explore[s] what it means to turn sustainable business practices into competitive advantage."
The Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan is attempting to be green both within its core curriculum and the very architectural structure in which classes take place. It considers itself one of the world leaders in research and academic programming relating to sustainable enterprise, and uses its building as a demonstration of their commitment to the field.
The Ross building incorporates energy efficient and environmentally responsible features, such as energy efficient lighting, occupation sensors, skylights, three green roofs to insulate the building, and water saving mechanisms.
With a motto like "Changing Business for Good", you know that the Bainbridge Graduate Institute in Seattle means business. (Check out the video clip here to get a feeling for the school and the pro Green business, that is. The institute has taken a different approach, not merely "greenifying" a conventional MBA program, but constructing a specific MBA in Sustainable Business. The goal of the program is to "prepare graduates to create and manage successful, dynamic enterprises that build a better world."
Located on the east coast (unlike many of the green MBA programs in California), the somewhat conventional business school at Yale has been infusing its MBA program with a more sustainable agenda. It has incorporated partnerships between the Yale Center for Business and the Environment and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, hoping to create opportunities for greater strides in both fields. The program hopes to teach students to view business in a broader context - one that includes, among other things, the environment.
If any readers out there have experience with green MBA's in the US or elsewhere let me know in the comments. I am seriously thinking about enrolling in a program, and blogging about it.