New Report Cites Cutting-Edge ‘Green’ Business Schools

New Report Cites Cutting-Edge ‘Green’ Business Schools

A new report by The Aspen Institute and the World Resources Institute challenges business schools to better arm graduate business students with skills critical “for effective leadership in a changing world.”

The report, Beyond Grey Pinstripes 2003: Preparing MBAs for Social and Environmental Stewardship, highlights six cutting-edge schools preparing future executives with a solid training in environmental and social impact management. The report includes data reported from 100 business schools in 20 countries. It also recognizes the accomplishments of seven professors whose pioneering work in sustainable business has changed the marketplace.

"We've seen positive change this year and a lot of innovation taking place in selected schools," said Judith Samuelson, executive director of the Aspen Institute's Business and Society Program (Aspen BSP). "But the reality is too many MBA students still graduate without an understanding of social impact and environmental management."

Recognized in Beyond Grey Pinstripes 2003 as schools with cutting-edge MBA programs are (in alphabetical order): George Washington University's School of Business and Public Management, Washington, DC; University of Michigan Business School, Ann Arbor, MI; University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School, Chapel Hill, NC; Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford, CA; Yale School of Management, New Haven, CT; and York University's Schulich School of Business, Toronto, Canada.

These schools are setting a high standard and are among the few schools that focus on the relationship of social, environmental and financial factors, often referred to as sustainability or the triple bottom line.

"Cutting-edge programs like these are producing leaders who can change tomorrow's business landscape," said Jonathan Lash, president of World Resources Institute. "But a gap remains between the skills that are taught today and the challenges business will face tomorrow."

On average, these six schools offer four times as many courses with this type of content as other schools that participated in the survey. In addition, they report an extensive array of extracurricular activities and have faculty who conduct research on social and environmental topics. Each of the six schools reports a wide range of innovative programs and courses. For example:

  • George Washington offers students a series of courses on sustainable tourism;

  • The Michigan curriculum includes courses on sustainable business like "Systems Thinking for Sustainable Development," which addresses the role of industry in relation to challenges posed by population growth, poverty, political instability, biodiversity loss and climate change in the developing world;

  • "Global Context" is a required course for all MBAs at UNC which exposes students to issues related to globalization and considers how social, economic and environmental conditions around the world impact corporate success;

  • Through FACT (Future Alumni Consulting Team), students at Stanford apply their business skills while working with local non-profit and public sector organizations on strategic consulting and tactical support projects;

  • Yale hosts a lecture series on Globalization and the Environment that explores the ways people in the northern and southern hemispheres view conservation;

  • During MBA orientation York uses game simulations and workshops to emphasize concepts of corporate responsibility and diversity management.

    The report also recognizes nine schools with significant activity and 21 schools with moderate activity.

    The programs and courses in these MBA programs are exceptions to otherwise peripheral coverage of these and other related issues by the majority of business schools. Only half of the schools report more than one required course with social and environmental content. Moreover, faculty at only one in seven schools has conducted a substantial amount of the research on issues of environmental and social impact management.

    Beyond Grey Pinstripes 2003 also cited seven outstanding professors for their contributions to scholarship and outreach in the business sector. The Faculty Pioneer Award recipients are: Thomas N. Gladwin, University of Michigan Business School for Lifetime Achievement; James E. Austin, Harvard Business School, for Institutional Leadership; Chi Anyansi-Archibong, School of Business and Economics at North Carolina A&T State University, for External Impact; S. Prakash Sethi, Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, for External Impact; Andrew J. Hoffman, Boston University School of Management, Rising Star; Timothy L. Fort, University of Michigan Business School, for Academic Leadership; and Alyson C. Warhurst, Warwick Business School, for Academic Leadership/European Faculty Pioneer.

    Beyond Grey Pinstripes 2003: Preparing MBAs for Social and Environmental Stewardship is the fourth in a series started in 1998. Its companion website,, contains a global database of more than 1,000 courses and 800 extracurricular activities at 100 business schools.