Our final project was to look at an upcoming piece of environmental legislation and explore all of the different actors and political interests involved. We had to predict whether the legislation would pass, what the implications were if it did, and what the major obstacles to its passage were.
When I first arrived, I assumed everyone would have similar interests, primarily in energy and sustainability strategies. But I’ve been very surprised by the huge diversity of the backgrounds here. Students are interested in agriculture, food, water issues, sustainable marketing, and a lot of other things, too. It’s been really refreshing to get all these different perspectives from my fellow students.
I would describe the typical Erb student as very thoughtful, analytical, and curious. Environment and business have traditionally been like oil and water, but Erb students have gotten really good at bringing such different worlds together.
There’s definitely some gentle teasing of the stereotypical Erb student, though. We’re not exactly cultish, but we do have to navigate two really different worlds, and we tend to band together.
Part of the reason our community is so close is because it’s a bit of a culture shock to shift between the two schools year to year. Both are strong and supportive, but they feel very different. SNRE is much smaller, and everyone knows each other. It has a comfortable, almost homey feel. Ross is a friendly community, but it’s a much bigger place. You don’t know as many people; you’re in a section with 70 other people. It has much more of a career-driven feeling.
Erb students have a culture in the middle. We’re career-oriented, but we also like a close-knit, nurturing community.
This summer, I’ll be working at the Forest Trust, a nonprofit that works on supply-chain sustainability. They think about all of the materials and energy that go into the process of making a product; particularly forestry products like paper and timber. Their goal is to reduce the environmental footprint of businesses along their supply chain.
I can see myself continuing to work on supply-chain sustainability in the future, though I’m also interested in conservation finance and the idea of developing innovative finance mechanisms to fund conservation.
Three years is a big time and financial commitment, but I think it’s entirely worth it. For other students who want to study business and sustainability in a program like mine, the first piece of advice I have is to come up with some kind of game plan, or even just a sketch, of what you want to get out of the program: what kind of classes you want to take, what kinds of internships you want. There’s such a huge array of opportunities, this will help you narrow it down.
That said, once you have a plan, be flexible. The world of business sustainability is very diverse—explore it.