Sustainability - From Classroom to Career

2013 Sustainability
May 3, 2013

Understanding the growing worldwide movement of sustainability, UMD is embarking on the integration of sustainability into a variety of aspects of campus life.

Understanding the growing worldwide movement of sustainability, UMD is embarking on the integration of sustainability into a variety of aspects of campus life. LSBE has embraced sustainability in myriad ways, including the Gold LEED-certified building in which the school is now housed. Additionally, sustainability is beginning to be integrated into course curricula, as LSBE realizes the need for future business leaders to understand the role of sustainability in the business world.

One of the leading proponents of sustainability education in LSBE is Associate Professor of Management, Dr. Geoff Bell. "Sustainability is something that the business community is grappling with, and some firms are using it to provide a competitive advantage," said Bell.

Students gain hands-on, real world sustainability business experience in Bell's Sustainable Management class by developing case studies for organizations that have been involved in the Sustainable Twin Ports (STP) Early Adopters program. These case studies explore and document the organization’s experience participating in the Early Adopters program. STP is dedicated to furthering economic, environmental, and social sustainability in the Twin Ports region. More information can be found at www.sustainabletwinports.org.

For this case study project, a group of three or four students collaborates with an organization, initially visiting the organization's site and then conducting further visits, emails, and phone calls, as necessary. About a month later, the finished case study, which is the organization's actual working document, is presented in class and to the organization. Several case studies done by Bell's students are available on the STP website. The link provided above can be used to access the final documents.

"Producing the case studies isn't just an academic exercise," said Bell. "The students are working with real organizations that are interested in helping the economy, the environment, and the community. They are seeing firsthand how organizations can come to grips with and improve their impact on the environment and society while sustaining or enhancing their profits."

With 80 students having participated in the Sustainability and Management course, to date, Bell is aware of several that have changed their career path due to the course.

"Students are finding that sustainability is emerging as an integral part of the business community," said Bell. "And because of that, some have found their calling in an aspect of business sustainability."

Other LSBE courses being taught with a sustainability component include, Information Technology in Business, Principles of Management, Production and Operations Management, and Business and Society. A new course coming next spring semester is Green Marketing.

Additionally, speakers are invited to LSBE to talk about their melded sustainability and business careers.

This past year, Michele Whyle, Head of Sustainability and Quality at 3M Consumer and Office Businesses, shared with students how sustainability is applied during new product development and about challenges, mistakes, and advice on careers in sustainability. You can get a glimpse into 3M’s commitment to sustainability by going to http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/3M-Sustainability/Global/VisionHistory/About/.