Green MBA / Sustainable MBA

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Traditional Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs educate students in the core areas of business such as finance, marketing, accounting, operations management, and human resources management. Students take general management courses throughout the program and/or select an area of specialization. Sustainable MBAs (also known as Green MBAs) add the study of environmental and social sustainability leadership to these core areas.Typically, Green MBA programs define sustainability to include not only economics, but also environmental and social sustainability, collectively referred to as the Triple Bottom Line. They seek to promote financial viability, ecological sustainability, and social justice in business, government and organizations of all types. A common theme is how these can all contribute to the profitability of a business. Green MBA courses can include: Corporate Social Responsibility, Social Enterprise, Energy and the Environment, Social Venture Capital, Environmental and Social Sustainability, International Social Impact Strategies, Global Poverty Alleviation, and Investing in Micro-finance. Green MBA programs seek to educate future business leaders prepared to tackle the issues of climate change, energy security, ecosystem services, human health, economic stability, and other complex and interdependent issues.

Dominican University of California in San Rafael, CA was the first school in the US to offer an MBA in Sustainable Enterprise. Today, a number of schools offer Sustainable MBAs including the Presidio Graduate School, Bainbridge Graduate Institute, Green Mountain College, and Colorado State University. In addition, a number of traditional business schools are offering courses and concentrations in Sustainability including Stanford Graduate School of Business, the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University School of Management. This is just a short sampling of the schools offering these types of programs and the list is growing rapidly.

While schools are increasing their Sustainability offerings, they are also increasing their accessibility to students. There is no longer the strict rule that an MBA program is a two year, full-time campus program. Today, schools are catering to varying student needs by offering a number of new delivery formats including: on campus part-time nights and/or weekends, a hybrid model in which some class are online and others on campus, and a fully online model. This allows students the flexibility to continue working while completing an MBA, and does not necessarily require them to move to the location of the school.

Given the number of MBA programs, the varying delivery formats, and the increasing focus on sustainability, future leaders will hopefully have the education and talent necessary to overcome social and environmental challenges and create a sustainable society.

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