The Best MBA Programs for Social Impact
Business tends to focus on financial return. However, many analysts have increasingly argued that business should factor considerations like envionmental and social impact into their bottom lines.
Corporate Knights, a magazine for clean capitalism, recently released its “2017 Better World MBA” results — a ranking of the best MBA programs for sustainable social change.
The University of Exeter Business School topped the rankings, with York University’s Schulich School and the UK’s Warwick Business School placing 2nd and 3rd. 14 US business schools also secured a spot in the top 40, headed by Duquesne University at 5th.
The ranking is based on a three part methodology. Curriculum accounts for 30% of a score’s weight, with Corporate Knights emphasizing required courses dedicated to sustainability. Another 20% is based on school institutes and centers focused on sustainability. Academic research accounts for the remaining 50%, with special emphasis given to peer-reviewed articles and research citations.
A shift towards sustainability
So what do these results say? According to Corporate Knights, the rankings demonstrate how business schools around the world are “taking their own ideas of how to make sustainability the business of business education and putting them into practice.”
Giselle Weybrecht is a sustainability advisor and author of The Future MBA: 100 Ideas for Making Sustainability the Business of Business Education. Weybrecht says, in a Corporate Knights article, that the ideas include “adding ‘shifts’ into the curriculum, moments when students are unexpectedly placed in a situation they need to resolve.”
According to Weybrecht, a number of business schools are also collaborating with businesses to research sustainable solutions. At Copenhagen Business School, researchers work with Roskilde Festival, the second largest music festival in Europe, to research sustainable solutions for cities “on a small scale that might be applicable to other communities.”
Growing “greener” Curriculum
In addition to collaboration with businesses on research, several business schools are also beginning to implement courses that focus on sustainability. At the Rotterdam School of Management, students can take courses such as “Climate change strategy roleplay” and “Sustainability Leadership and Planetary Boundaries.”
At Griffith University in Australia, MBA students are required to take a course in systems thinking.
“These introduce and address the challenges of making decisions within the context of complex business systems with multiple stakeholders and short- and long-term social, environmental and economic consequences,” Weybrecht says.
Partnering with non-profits
In the U.S., a number of business schools are engaging the community to take part in sustainability initiatives. According to Weybrecht, several U.S. schools offer a board program in which students “are matched with a local non-profit board of directors for 14 months and serve as a non-voting board member, while also being paired up with a mentor.” Haas School of Business’ Philanthropy University offers free online courses, such as “How to Scale Social Impact”, which have already hit over 225,000 views from 180 different countries.
Business schools across the world are taking initiative in producing business leaders who are not only financially conscious, but socially and environmentally conscious as well.
“Through their students, research and graduates, they are becoming an indispensable resource for leaders and business looking to move forward in sustainability,” Weybrecht says. “The potential impact, both positive and negative, that business schools collectively can have should not be taken for granted.”