Teaching MBAs Leadership and Sustainability | TopMBA.com

Teaching MBAs Leadership and Sustainability

By QS Contributor

Updated October 1, 2014 Updated October 1, 2014

TopMBA.com looks at 5 initiatives from business schools around the world aimed at teaching leadership and sustainability to MBA students

As sustainability increasingly becomes part of the new business reality, business schools are experimenting with new and innovative ways of teaching and providing experiences to their MBA students relating to responsible leadership and sustainability.

These initiatives are taking a variety of different forms, from one-off courses to full degree programs. Many have the aim to give students first hand experience about what sustainability is all about and how to put it into practice.

Here is a selection of five such initiatives from around the world. Some of these initiatives have been around for decades while others have yet to start.

While only time will tell if programs like these will be successful in preparing the next generation of responsible business leaders, they are part of an exciting trend which sees increasing opportunities for students interested in sustainability.

Business schools working with business

Business schools are exploring partnerships with leading businesses in the field of sustainability as a way to provide meaningful educational experiences to their students.

Patagonia, a leading outdoor clothing company, along with Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business and Management in the US, have created the ‘Environmental Entrepreneurship Development’ Global Business Intensive Course.

This course is done in collaboration with Conservaçion Patagonica, a non-profit charity responsible for protecting roughly 450,000 acres of wild land in Patagonia, and provides students the opportunity to learn about sustainable business first hand.

The one-week course, which takes place in Patagonia, Chile, is a mixture of coursework and lectures on how sustainable business practice can lead to profitability and success while also giving students the opportunity of working on projects in the area.

According to Tetsuya O’Hara, director of Advanced Research and Development at Patagonia and lead faculty of the course, “I thought that a hybrid curriculum of academic work plus physical work, using body and brain simultaneously, could change the way MBA students make business models.

“Students see and feel issues in the great outdoors first, and this encourages them to ask a lot of deep questions.”

Business schools working with NGOs

The University of Exeter Business School in the UK has paired up with the global conservation organization WWF to create a new offering for prospective students called the One Planet MBA. This course, which starts in September 2011, aims to include not only all the lessons a traditional MBA provides but also a deep understanding of sustainability.

Dr Malcolm Kirkup, director of MBA programs at Exeter explains that, “Through our teaching approach we seek to develop the right mindsets for responsible leadership, so that our graduates walk-the-talk in terms of being worldly, collaborative, creative, ethical, reflective and community-minded.

“We want our graduates to be agents of change in business with the skills, knowledge and leadership to drive towards more sustainable strategies.”

Providing students with practical experience

Several business schools are exploring ways to give students opportunities to work on real projects in particular with NGOs and businesses in developing countries.

The International Business Development Program at Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley in the US has been in operation for over two decades now. The program assigns teams of MBA students as consultants to international companies, not-for-profits, development organizations and governments, giving students exposure to working in a new country and culture, on interesting, relevant and real life projects.

Projects can be anything from developing a business plan for a rainforest discovery center in Gabon to doing fieldwork for a public health clinic in India.

Over 1000 students have participated in the program to date, working on projects in over 69 countries.

According to Kristiana Raube, director of the program, “The International Business Development (IBD) program provides opportunities for students to make a positive impact by working with organizations to help solve management challenges responsibly and ethically.

“After participating in IBD, our students have a better understanding of global opportunities and how they can make a difference.”

Customize your MBA

The Certificate in Socially Responsible Leadership (CSRL) program at Queens School of Business in Canada was launched to the full-time MBA program in the fall of 2010. It allows students to customize their MBA experience and graduate with an additional qualification in addition to their MBA degree.

In order to gain the certificate, students must complete certain credit courses, attend yearly Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) weekends, take part in 60 hours of volunteer work for a non-profit organization or social cause, and complete special assignment work or consulting projects in this area.

Summer school

If your school doesn’t provide a certificate program, EGADE Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico has a new Responsible Management Certificate program which is open to undergraduate and graduate business students from around the world.

This special summer school is taking place in Mexico at the university’s San Luis Potosi campus in June and July 2011.

The certificate program covers a range of courses, which have the option of being counted as credits at a student’s home university, including sustainable development, CSR, micro finance, cause-related and social marketing and environmental management.

The program will also include an extensive cultural and travel program and visits to leading enterprises, governmental institutions and NGOs working in the field of sustainability.

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This article was originally published in November 2012 . It was last updated in October 2014

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