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Schulich School of Business

Schulich School of Business

Schulich Again Tops Global Knights MBA Ranking on Sustainability


What is sustainability? Like art, beauty, and talent, you seemingly know it when you see it. Let’s face it: The term carries a lot of buzz…but not necessarily the clarity that should go with it. Some associate sustainability with the environmental movement. Others frame it in terms of corporate responsibility, with dimensions ranging from practicing ethics to giving back to championing social good.

If you’re looking for an underlying philosophy, you can’t do much better than this definition from the United Nations:

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without             compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

And that’s a challenge in the business world, where quarterly projections often drive decisions. With everyone’s job on the line all the time, the future is often the last factor considered. And that’s why the sustainability has gained such traction in business schools. The best companies are those looking to shape the future in their image. They measure their legacies in generations, with a mission far greater than beating market expectations.

So which business schools foster such forward-thinking? Corporate Knights, a Toronto-based media and research firm, attempts to answer this question through its annual sustainability rankings. A descendant of the Beyond Grey Pinstripes rankings, Corporate Knights’ methodology underwent a major overhaul in 2014. In 2013, the school relied on survey results from 250 schools in 17 countries. Now, Corporate Knights applies publicly-available data, with schools pulled from The Financial Times’ Global MBA Ranking (2013, in this case).

Last year, Corporate Knights measured programs according to three criteria: Institutional support, student-led initiatives, and courses. They have since tinkered with their formula, basing their school scores on these three criteria:

1) Curriculum (50% Weight): This encompassed “core / required courses fully dedicated to sustainability.”

2) Institutes and Centres (20% Weight): These must be housed in the business schools and devoted to sustainability issues.

3) Faculty Research (30%): Using Google Scholar, Corporate Knights factored in “all relevant peer-reviewed publications in academic journals…from 2011-June 2014. Half of the final score was derived from total number of relevant publications per business school. The other half was extracted from total citation score on all relevant publications combined.”

Corporate Knights

Canadian schools earned the top three spots on the Corporate Knights ranking, headed by the Schulich School of Business at York University, which also ranked #1 in 2013. The program scored a perfect 100% on curriculum and 98% on institutions and centres. However, its overall score was dragged down by a 66% score in research citations. Sauder earned high marks across the board, led by 96% and 94% in institutions and centres and coursework respectively, resulting in a 91% score…just two points below Schulich.

At Schulich, Dean Dezso Horvath tells Corporate Knights that students actually drove the inclusion of sustainability into the curriculum during the 1990s. “Students were pointing out that they had not heard a single mention of the environment in their classes, despite the financial, social and legal ramifications of sustainability issues they were likely to encounter in their careers,” says Horvath. “We made a determination at the time, which I believe has now been borne out by the facts, that the triple-bottom line approach makes good business sense,” he says.

Among American school, Harvard Business School led the pack, ranking #4 with an 87% score. It was followed by Yale and the University of Michigan at #5 and #6. The rankings for all three programs were buoyed by faculty research, with Yale earning the rankings highest score (99%) in published faculty research and Ross producing the second-highest ranking (behind Kellogg) in research citations at 98%. Georgia Tech and George Washington also cracked Corporate Knights’ top ten.

Other high-performing American schools include #12 Booth (with an enviable 98% score on coursework…tops among American schools); #14 Babson College (where an 8% score on research citations pulled down its ranking); #15 University of California-Berkeley Haas (which had a perfect score on institutions and centres); #16 William & Mary (buoyed by a 93% score on coursework); and #19 Wharton (whose 39% score in coursework was eerily equivalent to Darden, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Arizona State, Purdue, Boston College, Texas, Stanford, North Carolina, Georgetown, Carnegie Mellon, and Ohio State…among others).

Overall, American schools represented 10 of the top 20 schools for sustainability (and 24 of the top 50 schools). Canada and the UK placed four and three schools in the top 20 respectively.

Other notables include #21 ESADE (a 0 score for institutes and centres); #24 HEC Paris (which didn’t produce a score above 78 in the categories); #31 INSEAD (Another 39% in curriculum); #44 Stanford (Just 22% in faculty research); #53 Northwestern (a 0% score in curriculum); #54 Ivey (A Canadian school with a 0% score in curriculum); #62 Columbia (0% in curriculum…same as #81 New York University); #65 MIT (Again, 0% in curriculum); and #74 IE Business School (0% curriculum). You can bet these schools are “green with envy” over missing the top 20.

Corporate Knights’ sustainability ranking also shares similarities with Net Impact’s Social Impact Ranking of American business schools. Here, Net Impact didn’t use The Financial Times global ranking as a baseline (which explains why San Francisco’s Presidio Graduate School ranked #1 for social impact and U.C. –Santa Barbara stood at #1 in environmental sustainability on Net Impact’s “Business as Unusual” ranking). However, Net Impact did rank Yale and Ross at #2 and #3 on social impact and Ross and Yale at #4 and #7 for environmental impact (with Harvard no where to be found in either ranking).

Here are Corporate Knights’ top 10 schools for sustainability. To review the complete rankings, click here.

1) York University (Schulich School of Business) – 93%

2) University of British Columbia (Sauder) – 91%

3) University of Alberta – 89%

4) Harvard University (Harvard Business School) – 87%

5) Yale University (Yale School of Management) – 87%

6) University of Michigan (Ross School of Business) – 84%

7) Tilburg University (TiasNimbas) – 78%

8) Georgia Tech University (Scheller) – 76%

9) IIM Ahmedabad (Indian Institute of Technology) – 76%

10) George Washington University (School of Business) – 75%

Source: Corporate Knights


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