Are We “Green-washing” our MBAs?

Published on August 12th, 2010 | by

Beyond Grey Pinstripes Stamp

With the beginning of the Fall 2010 semester right around the corner, I wonder how many new MBA candidates will start the year wearing green?

In July I read a post on CSRwire entitled “Will Green MBAs Save the Planet?” by Elaine Cohen which commented on a recent trend in Business Schools.  Apparently the number of schools offering Green MBAs is rapidly rising in the U.S.  But as Ms. Cohen aptly points out, it should be the quality not the color of the MBA that matters to prospective students and hopefully prospective employers.

I have to admit though, I am a bit biased.  An MBA 2011 candidate myself at Duquesne University, I have opted for the traditional MBA Degree through Duquesne’s evening program rather than their 12-month MBA Sustainability Program even though its Sustainability Program earned it the #2 spot in Beyond Grey Pinstripes top ten small schools.  My hope is that sustainability does not remain on the fringes of core business school curriculum and therefore on the fringe of core business strategy, as evident by Elaine Cohen’s more recent review of The Sustainability Initiatives Report which shows a low focus on embedded sustainability strategy across 100 corporations in 10 industry sectors.  If we want to see the focus rise, we need to bring ideas on sustainability and corporate social responsibility to every required business course, not just those in a green curriculum.

So while Green-MBAs may not save the plant, I believe those who take a holistic approach to their business studies and therefore their business strategies just might.

Image Credit:  Easy Ways to Go Green via Flickr under a CC license.


About the Author

Emily McKinin DeMasi is a 2011 MBA/ MA Public Policy candidate and Peace Corps Fellow at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. Her thesis work concerns Corporate Social Responsibility in the United States. She also works as a Research Fellow at Bridgeway Capital, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in downtown Pittsburgh. Emily has worked as an Associate in a Private Equity Placement Firm in NY and as a Water and Sanitation Volunteer in Ivory Coast, West Africa. She hopes to combine her business background with her passion for development and inspire others in the fields of Sustainability and CSR.
  • Mike

    I've always beleived capitalism, thought flawed (like all systems), is the best system. People can create change with their wallets, much faster then writing laws or waging war.

  • Mike

    I've always beleived capitalism, thought flawed (like all systems), is the best system. People can create change with their wallets, much faster then writing laws or waging war.

  • emily, many thanks for referring to my posts on Green MBA's and the sustainability Initiatives Report. WIsh you luck with your multi-color MBA 🙂 Even so, going mainstream starts at the fringe. The real change will come when businesses demand that MBA grads have sustainability knowledge as part of their basic education – it has to be a pull from biz rather than a push from young activists or intelligent academics.
    elaine

    • Emily DeMasi

      Thanks for the comment Elaine! I agree mainstream starts at the fringe and look forward to the day when businesses demand sustainability knowledge from MBA grads. Until then, a two-pronged approach couldn’t hurt 🙂

  • emily, many thanks for referring to my posts on Green MBA's and the sustainability Initiatives Report. WIsh you luck with your multi-color MBA 🙂 Even so, going mainstream starts at the fringe. The real change will come when businesses demand that MBA grads have sustainability knowledge as part of their basic education – it has to be a pull from biz rather than a push from young activists or intelligent academics.
    elaine

    • Emily DeMasi

      Thanks for the comment Elaine! I agree mainstream starts at the fringe and look forward to the day when businesses demand sustainability knowledge from MBA grads. Until then, a two-pronged approach couldn’t hurt 🙂

  • I couldn’t agree more with your suggestion that sustainability (or, better, the broader field of social responsibility) be incorporated in core MBA courses, not set out in a green ‘silo.’ Ditto with the ethics curriculum: that approach encourages an unfortunate ‘checklist’ approach to education. And, taking the long view, I don’t think change has to come through a ‘pull’ from industry; I think it can be pushed from academia. After all, that’s how Milton Friedman did a lot of HIS damage.

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