February 16, 2024Read More
The past year has underscored the urgency of addressing climate change, social inequality, and ethical business practices. The need for sustainable leadership has become increasingly evident, and an MBA in sustainability emerges as a powerful tool to navigate this complex landscape. This specialized degree equips individuals with the knowledge and skills to integrate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations into business strategies.
The business world is evolving, and sustainable practices are no longer a luxury but a necessity. Employers across industries are actively seeking professionals who can drive positive change while ensuring long-term profitability. An MBA in sustainability not only imparts a deep understanding of environmental stewardship but also cultivates the ability to make ethical decisions that positively impact both society and the bottom line.
To that end, Corporate Knights has released its Better World MBA Ranking for 2023. In the accompanying article, Naomi Buck discusses the growing trend among business schools to integrate sustainability into their MBA programs, as reflected in the Better World MBA ranking. The ranking focuses on the proportion of the core curriculum that addresses sustainable development concepts, giving credit to topics such as biodiversity, carbon pricing, Indigenous consultation, and more. The top schools on the list show consistency, with some maintaining their positions from the previous year. Notably, Bard College and Griffith Business School, in New York and Australia, respectively, rank high for their sustainability-focused MBA programs.
The Bard program, directed by Eban Goodstein, emphasizes sustainability in contrast to traditional MBA approaches that prioritize profits and shareholder value. Goodstein highlights the novelty of the “business for good” concept in the U.S. and notes that Bard’s program aims to diversify its student body, with 65% female students and 35% identifying as non-white.
The article also mentions Audencia Business School in France, where the MBA program has risen in the ranking due to a significant increase in core sustainability courses. The French Ministry of Education has encouraged business schools to focus on corporate social responsibility and align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
The challenges for today’s business students include accepting uncertainty regarding sustainability issues, according to Tamim Elbasha, director of the MBA program at Audencia. Stephanie Schleimer, director of the MBA in Sustainability at Griffith, describes the program as a personal and emotional journey for students, leading to revelations about aligning personal and professional values.
While some students pursue an MBA for salary enhancement, the article suggests a gradual shift in mindset. Mike Valente, director of the MBA program at Schulich School of Business, notes that graduates are realizing the connection between salary goals and an understanding of sustainability issues.
Poulomi Sengupta, a Schulich graduate, exemplifies this shift by transitioning from geology to ESG research, citing the MBA program as a bridge to a more rewarding career. Schulich’s sustainability course encourages critical reflection on corporate behavior, challenging students to simulate egregious actions as a learning exercise.
Despite progress, the article acknowledges that business schools are still evolving in their approach to sustainability. Corporate Knights introduced a social-purpose lens to MBA programs for the first time, emphasizing the need for purpose-driven decision-making. While this concept has not yet entered most business school curricula, the top-ranking schools indicate a growing ambition to incorporate social purpose in the future.