MBAs with a concentration in sustainability use the trialed and tested framework of a conventional MBA while also having a specific focus on the intersection of sustainability and business success and ethics, all in an effort to advance sustainability principles.

It’s not solely focused on the environment. It also tackles social sustainability and social impact.

As businesses become more conscious of how they affect the world, businesses are on the lookout for employees who are more able to promote sustainable measures.

Here are some of the world’s top business schools preparing graduates to be ethical, sustainable leaders.

1. Warwick Business School

Warwick Business School’s full-time MBA program gives students the opportunity to visit Vancouver – regarded as the world’s greenest city – to learn about sustainable business.

There is also a Business and Sustainability module which introduces the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, as well as modules like the Economics of Well-being, Human Resource Management and Corporate Responsibility.Students can also make the most of learning about different cultures on international modules in India, Mexico, Brazil, or China.

2. University of Exeter Business School

The Exeter MBA can be undertaken full-time in over 12 months, or as an executive part-time option over 24-36 months. The program focuses on sustainability, purposeful leadership, innovation and technology, so graduates will transform not only themselves, but the world around them.

Stuart Robinson, Program Director of The Exeter MBA says, “The creation of sustainable practice is now in the mainstream of industrial, societal, and technological progress globally, so we are delighted to be recognized as an MBA that offers students the skills and knowledge to take this forward in their careers.”

3. MIT Sloan School of Management

Students attending Sloan interested in social and environmental impact could look into MIT’s sustainability certificate (only open to masters-level students as an add-on to existing degree programs).

The program also involves the Sustainable Business Laboratory, where students work in teams on problems faced by real firms attempting to advance sustainability strategies. Coursework includes a sustainability capstone class during your final term, along with a variety of sustainability electives.


INSEAD is incorporating sustainability into their INSEAD MBA curriculum, with two courses standing out – Business Sustainability and the SDG Bootcamp.

These courses enable students to analyze, improve and create innovative business models that are more profitable and sustainable.The SDG Bootcamp is an intense workshop focusing on problem framing, ideation and prototyping. It encourages students to address critical real-world problems in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals.

5. The Fuqua School of Business

Fuqua’s Client Consulting Practicum (FCCP) – an experiential learning program – offers teams of students the opportunity to work on sustainability issues for client companies and non-profits.

The business school also boasts an award-winning research and education enter, the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE). The center helps organizations and leaders with the necessary business skills to promote and achieve social change.CASE sponsors i3, a professional online training program for direct impact investing. Similarly, the center funds fellowships which enables students to trial social impact careers through internships without financial struggles.

6. Saïd Business School, Oxford University

The MBA program’s curriculum allows students to choose elective options like Social Enterprise Design, or Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Similarly, the school’s Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship provides students looking to create social change through innovation with the relevant resources.

7. I.E. Business School

Located in the Spanish capital Madrid, IE Business School pushes to incorporate innovation throughout the school’s ethos. The school offers a number of appropriate sustainability courses, and also holds an annual Social Responsibility Forum that explores CSR-related issues.

8. Harvard Business School

HBS was in fact one of the business schools to build research in the CSR space through its Social Enterprise Initiative. Many of the MBA program’s core curriculum classes also integrate CSR case studies.

9. Cornell S.C. Johnson College of Business, Cornell University

Johnson’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise – which launched in 2003 – publishes relevant sustainability and CSR research. If they so wish, two-year MBA students can choose a concentration in Sustainable Global Enterprise, as well as a company project focusing on CSR topics.

Students enrolled in the SGE immersion work in multidisciplinary teams on consulting-type assignments with real firms that are focused on strategic initiatives exploring new business opportunities related to sustainability.

10. Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University

The core curriculum on RSM’s MBA program offers courses including Business, Society, and Sustainable Development, which places a strong focus on CSR and sustainability.

The school produces a range of research in the sustainability field, but more importantly, RSM incorporated the UN Global Compact’s Principles for Responsible Management Education into their MBA curriculum.

Source Article: Niamh Ollerton;

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In recent years the world has seen a dramatic change in society’s view of corporate and social sustainability, with a growing emphasis on creating sustainable economic growth to the benefit of society at large.  Below, Frederik Dahlmann, Assistant Professor of Global Energy at Warwick Business School discusses capitalism’s new direction.

In 1972 Milton Friedman wrote, “The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.” His article warned against diverting managers’ attention away from making profits for their owners by promoting desirable social ends or “building personal empires.” Instead, managers should focus their efforts on maximising shareholder wealth.

Since then the world has changed significantly and a growing chorus of scientists, campaigners and politicians are demanding companies’ executives do more to address “global mega-challenges”. Climate change, resource shortages, security risks and inequalities are just some examples of an increasingly fast-paced, complex and multi-dimensional business environment causing widespread concerns.

As a result, societal expectations of how firms integrate stakeholder views into business management and create sustainable economic growth have steadily risen. Increasingly, a number of trends suggest that managers may need to move towards pursuing more broad-ranging contributions of their companies to society.

Changing our Understanding of Capitalism

Not least since the global financial crisis people from around the world have been calling on politicians to implement tough actions designed to address some of the weaknesses of a capitalist free-market economy. Many of these frustrations are based on a list of political, social, economic, emotional, ethical and religious arguments.

The recent emergence of social movements such as “We are the 99%” and Occupy, as well as ideas, debates and conferences such as Inclusive Capitalism, Responsible Business, New Growth Models, The Share Economy, The Post-Capitalist Economy and Combining Purpose With Profits demonstrate that these debates are widespread and growing. Academics and policy makers, for their part, are searching for new ways of accounting for and promoting economic activity beyond GDP growth.

Yet many of these efforts go beyond companies’ immediate short-term financial considerations and may even challenge their existing economic logic. Some therefore suggest that companies should publicly redefine their purpose and highlight what contributions they make to our prosperity by transforming ideas into products and services that solve society’s problems.

New Organisational Forms

While it is tempting to see such debates as largely a problem for existing businesses and politicians to deal with, many new enterprises are already displaying a fundamentally different attitude towards these issues. In future, the fiercest competition for companies is likely to come from startups whose entrepreneurs are well aware of these global sustainability challenges and which they seek to address through innovative products and services.

For example, a growing community of so-called Benefit Corporations, or “B Corps”, have been certified as meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. These more than 1,000 B Corps from 33 countries and over 60 industries are working together toward one unifying goal: to redefine success in business. Their mission is to be of benefit to all stakeholders, not just shareholders. Elsewhere, social enterprises are a similar example of organisations focusing mainly on solving environmental and social issues, often particularly in developing countries.

These new types and variations of enterprises represent an interesting and slowly accelerating trend. Many of them are tapping into the wider sustainability agenda by redefining organisational purpose and success.

New Key Performance Measures

Faced with pressures to accept the wider role of stakeholders and responsibilities, companies largely responded by publishing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or sustainability reports. This required challenging efforts of measuring, reporting and verifying non-financial data. Whether such activities are genuine attempts to communicate companies’ wider performance or merely serve as “greenwashing” has been the subject of intense debates.

But many of these processes appear to be changing too. Reporting firms’ social and environmental performance is increasingly becoming more standardised and rigorous, much like reporting firms’ financial accounts. For instance, the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) has made it its mission to embed “Integrated Reporting” into mainstream business practice for both public and private organisations. Both the UK and the EU have also introduced legislation requiring large companies to disclose environmental data such as greenhouse gas emissions and other non-financial information.

Elsewhere, the professional services firm PwC published its first ever efforts to account for the company’s “total impact”. In fact, “impact” may become a key concept to watch as there has been an explosion in activities designed to invest in and measure impact beyond financial returns. New forms of Sustainable and Responsible Investment including Impact investment, Green Bonds and Social Impact Bonds have seen strong growth in recent years.

Towards Maximising “Total Impact”

Taken together these examples are all signals of a trend towards a more “mixed economy” where the dividing line between private and public activity, financial and non-financial gains is increasingly becoming blurred.

Managers in existing businesses need to decide whether they believe that managing sustainability should be left to these new organisations or whether they want to adapt to this changing environment.

The debate over companies’ purpose continues and many will favour retaining the simpler metrics surrounding shareholder wealth. Yet changes in investment trends also reflect the underlying social shifts where younger generations of investors (“The next generation of wealth”) appear to be increasingly interested in and concerned with investment outcomes beyond financial results. Measuring impact beyond financial returns is notoriously difficult. PwC’s efforts, as well as metrics provided by others, serve as useful starting points for understanding the vital role that business organisations can play as part of serving our wider society. Whether this will be enough to transform companies’ attention to maximising total impact in future depends on managers and investors working together.

Originally seen on European Financial Review.

Article Sourced from Warwick Business School (WBS):

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