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Wednesday, September 03, 2014 at 4pm

In Search of More Sustainable Business Education Options: MBA News

Sustainable business insights sought by net impact survey respondents

A new Net Impact survey reinforces graduate students’ increasing eagerness to prioritize the need for a future of sustainable business.

Almost all (93%) of students surveyed by Net Impact’s Business as UNusual report considered a focus on social and environmental issues to be either essential or very important to a business’ long-term success. More than three-quarters felt that progress towards sustainable business had been achieved in the past five years, yet the respondents named energy, as well as the development and marketing of sustainable products, as priority areas to be addressed.  

Students also expect to see more attention paid to aspects of sustainable business in their education – from impact career and experiential learning opportunities to courses that focus on social, environmental and sustainability issues.

Net Impact says students ‘expect more from their education’

In this, the Net Impact Business as UNusual report finds that students are less satisfied with schools’ attempts to integrate social and environmental themes into core curricula for the third year in a row.

Indeed, despite students from more than half of the schools featured this year reporting that new options and innovations to this end had been made; it doesn’t seem to be enough to meet students’ hunger for knowledge and opportunities in sustainable business.

In particular, students want graduate business programs to provide more hands-on learning options related to sustainability and impact careers (cited by 36% of respondents) and, to a slightly lesser extent, to receive more career support in this area (19%).

“Over the years, students have become increasingly committed to making an impact, and expect more from their education as a result. Graduates want to leave their programs fully equipped to create social and environmental change in the workplace and the world,” Net Impact CEO, Liz Maw, said in a press release.

More than three-quarters of students did indicate that they would be prepared to take a 15% pay-cut for a job that would make a social or environmental difference in the world – however, this is more of an ideal than a reality for many students as more than one-third admitted that they felt pressured to take whatever role presents itself in today’s competitive climate.

Business as UNusual is an annual report produced by Net Impact, a nonprofit dedicated to the promoting the value of sustainable business and impact career options for the next generation of leaders.

The 2014 edition embodies the views of more than 3,000 students attending just under 100 graduate business programs. The vast majority of these are located in the US, however there are a smattering of viewpoints included from programs in Europe, Canada and Australia.

Business as Unusual ranks schools by environmental sustainability and social impact student ratings

The Business as Unusual report also ranks the schools featured, in the areas of sustainability and social impact.

Any school with a graduate Net Impact chapter that contributed at least 20 student respondents to the survey was included in the list, with ranks determined on the basis of students’ average ratings for a school program’s inclusion of environmental sustainability and social impact.

The leaders of the pack in each area are listed below:

Net Impact’s top social impact programs 2014

1.  Presidio Graduate School

2.  Yale University, Yale School of Management

3.  Pinchot, Bainbridge Graduate Institute

4.  University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

5.  Colorado State University College of Business

Net Impact’s top environmental sustainability programs 2014

1.  University of California, Santa Barbara, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management

2.  Presidio Graduate School

3.  Pinchot, Bainbridge Graduate Institute

4.  University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

5.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management

Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).

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