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Future MBA

100 seeds for a sustainable future: Part 3

In week three of 10-part series, colleges are implementing programs to help students be the change they want to see in the world.

In 2014, author and TEDx speaker Giselle Weybrecht posted one short idea a day for 100 days exploring how we could rethink business education to produce the leaders that our business and the planet need. The ideas were compiled in a book, "The Future MBA: 100 Ideas for Making Sustainability the Business of Business Educations." As a companion to the ideas in the book, each week for the next 10 weeks, GreenBiz will be posting 10 examples of how schools around the world are bringing some of these ideas to life, creating new opportunities for people and the planet. This is part two of the 10-week series. The series can be found here.

Day 21: Awarding cool projects

The Erb Cool Projects Award at the University of Michigan increases the impact of students and the Erb community by funding great student-led projects. Eligible activities can include such projects as competing in case competitions; prototype for social enterprises; travel to report on an international conference; or masters project work. These projects are simple and engaging, link to the academic content, involve the community and touch topics that both the students and the wider community are passionate about.

Day 22: Taking charge of carbon

The Yale Carbon Charge Project is testing the effectiveness and feasibility of carbon pricing on Yale’s campus. It also aims to reduce campus energy cost and greenhouse gas emissions by using financial incentives to encourage behavior and decisions that align with the principles of low-carbon economy. Using the university as a living laboratory for applied research, the project aims to inform energy policy, climate change mitigation and environmental economics by testing multiple models of carbon pricing. A six-month pilot involving 20 university buildings took place during the 2015-2016 academic year.

Day 23: Aim2Flourish

The Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University launched the AIM2Flourish platform. Using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as their lens, students from business schools around the world research and identify companies active in sustainability. They then go out and interview business leaders about their innovations and write up short case studies which are uploaded onto the AIM2Flourish platform. Students and faculty are encouraged to comment on the case studies and the lessons learned from them. The platform currently houses over 400 mini-case studies.

The Yale Carbon Charge Project is testing the effectiveness and feasibility of carbon pricing on Yale’s campus. It also aims to reduce campus energy cost and greenhouse gas emissions.

Day 24: Interdisciplinary degrees

At Ryerson University in Canada, the Environmental Applied Science and Management Program brings together eight schools and departments (three engineering departments; chemistry and biology; geography; public health; urban and regional planning; and economics) as part of a multi-disciplinary degree. The program links the environmental sciences and the management- and decision-making disciplines in order to provide students with the opportunity to integrate two areas of study. It emphasizes applied research for resolving problems in environmental protection, conservation and sustainable development.

Day 25: I’m the Change

Every year, more than 450 students at the Institute of Management Technology in Ghaziabad, India take part in a compulsory course called I’m the Change. This course is primarily an outside-of-the-classroom learning experience where students work in teams to identify a particular social challenge to be addressed. The students zero in on a specific area with potential for making a meaningful contribution to society by applying their knowledge, skills, aptitude and innovation. With this in view, they propose an implementation plan to put it into practice. Teams work with a wide range of NGOs, as well as government agencies, on social projects relating to education, female empowerment, skill development, distribution of medical equipment, engaging children, health, sanitation and financial literacy.

Day 26: Collaborating for social impact

The Centre for Social Impact is a collaboration of three universities: UNSW Australia, Swinburne University of Technology and the University of Western Australia. The center’s mission is to improve the delivery of beneficial social impact in Australia through research, teaching, measurement and the promotion of public debate. It offers postgraduate at the partner universities, including a Graduate Certificate in Social Impact, which provides students with a cross-sectoral perspective. They offer a range of undergraduate courses offering a system thinking approach to social change leadership in Australia. The center publishes Australia’s "Social Pulse," a rigorous, accessible, ongoing measurement of Australia’s social progress.

Day 27: Cycling through history

HEC Montréal in the province of Quebec, Canada, has created an experiential business history course that involves a 12-day, 500-kilometer cycling trip. The course seeks to expose students first-hand — on bicycle — to the way politics, culture and geography influence Quebec’s economic development. Over the 12 days, students visit factories, museums and hydroelectric dams. They peruse readings and write papers about their experiences, finally collaborating to document an industry visited during the course. 

While exploring how to differentiate and create a more sustainable and relevant MBA, Mason School of Business created an online platform to crowdsource ideas as to what might be part of this new degree program.

Day 28: Crowdsourcing the MBA

A few months after posting the idea of crowdsourcing for a new MBA (Idea 51 in "The Future MBA"), I was excited to see that the College of William & Mary’s Mason School of Business did just this. While exploring how to differentiate and create a more sustainable and relevant MBA, the college created an online platform to crowdsource ideas as to what might be part of this new degree program. They invited employers, recruiters, professors, students, alumni and professionals to participate. Participants were invited to submit ideas or discuss ideas submitted by others. Ideas included moving classrooms outside, developing more cross-learning opportunities with the sciences, and a proposal for a course on developing brands in the digital age.

Day 29: An internal sustainability case competition

The Olin Sustainability Case Competition began in 2010 to increase awareness and expand educational opportunities around sustainable business practices at Washington University in St. Louis’s Olin Business School. Designed as a traditional business case study, the competition is based on a current sustainability-related business problem being faced by the university itself. Over the years, themes year have included minimizing the carbon footprint of the school’s science labs, landscaping strategies at Washington University and developing creative, innovative and cost-effective ways to reduce waste on campus, including repurposing current waste. The competition is open to all Washington University students in both undergraduate and graduate level programs — teams are made up of two to five students from any school. The winning teams work with the school to implement their ideas on campus.

Day 30: An action lab

The Babson Social Innovation Lab is an action tank that incubates people and ideas. New concepts in social innovation are prototyped, evaluated and proven in real-world contexts. The lab brings together a global, interdisciplinary community dedicated to building a better world. Current projects involve food entrepreneurs, global health innovators, lean thinking, social sector impact and a women’s entrepreneurial development lab. Through the "Quick Service Incubator," select entrepreneurs have an opportunity to pitch challenges for quick feedback from a panel of experts and distinguished guests. 

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