The recent call for businesses to address the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit, and growing consumer demand for companies that embrace a business-for-good ethos has sent many MBA programs scrambling to adapt their MBAs to focus on sustainability. This isn’t new territory for Colorado State University’s College of Business. Its award-winning Impact MBA has been channeling the College’s focus on Business for a Better World for over fifteen years and is a recognized pacesetter known for developing business leaders ready to connect purpose with profit.
Leadership in Corporate Sustainability and Social Entrepreneurship
The STEM-designated Impact MBA is an evolution of the College’s Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA which was founded in 2006. Offering two tracks – corporate sustainability and social entrepreneurship – the Impact MBA gives you the option to learn how to lead sustainability initiatives from within an organization or how to start your own game-changing ventures. The 16-month program hosted in Fort Collins, Colorado was also recently ranked No. 5 nationally and No. 20 worldwide as a “Better World MBA” by Corporate Knights. This reputation combined with the Impact MBA’s network of worldwide graduates from more than 70 countries continues to make it one of the best for those seeking to truly drive sustainable changes in any industry.
A Campus Culture of Sustainability
When you choose the Impact MBA, you come to a university that shares your commitment to sustainability. Colorado State University is the only institution in the world to achieve three Platinum ratings from the Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS). In addition, nearly half of all tenured and tenure-track faculty across campus conduct sustainability research. Eighty percent of all academic departments across campus have at least one faculty member engaged in sustainability research. Graduate and undergraduate students connect over shared interests in student organizations such as the Zero Waste Team, the Society for Ecological Restoration, Eco Leaders, Net Impact, and the Student Sustainability Center Club.
A Multi-Disciplinary Approach
The Impact MBA’s 16-month cross-disciplinary curriculum builds on CSU’s green culture to connect MBA students with many of the world-class sustainability researchers across campus. Students in the MBA degree can choose electives from CSU’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability (SOGES), Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Ecosystem Science and Sustainability (ESS). Students can select multi-disciplinary courses ranging from greenhouse gas policy and product life-cycle analysis to sustainable future energy solutions.
Additional credentials are also available as you complete your MBA. The CSU College of Business is one of only three institutions of higher education partnering with the Value Reporting Foundation, formerly known as the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). The partnership enables the College to offer the Level 1 Fundamentals of Sustainable Accounting credential, teaching both students and professionals across industries how to track and communicate financially material sustainability information across all markets. You also may elect to complete a Certificate in Carbon Management and start a career prepared to guide corporations through upcoming advancements in regulatory emissions reporting requirements.
Alumni Making a Difference
As Impact MBA students gain the benefit of cross-disciplinary collaboration with experts in environmental sustainability, they’re also taught by the leading business minds on topics such as strategy, marketing, accounting, and finance, all of whom bring their latest research in their disciplines into the classroom.
Many Impact MBA alumni have already established themselves as transformers, leading change and sustainability initiatives in their fields. Nick McCulloch, a ’14 graduate, serves as the director of sustainability at Rubicon, a software company that develops waste management and recycling solutions. He has helped the company develop its carbon reduction strategy and its circular economy service plan and led the creation of social and governance objectives. He draws on professional history that includes spearheading sustainability issues at Colorado’s OtterBox and Farmer Brothers in Dallas.
Since 2016, Christie A. Zimmerman (’13) has focused on animal welfare from suppliers as product standards managers at Natural Grocers, while Lindsey Wilson has helped countless B-corporations develop standards and receive certification as the Business Development Manager at B-Lab. Zubaida Bai (’09) has been an innovator of sustainable solutions in reproductive health services as the founder of Ayzh, which has provided more than one million birth kits to mothers in emerging and frontier markets. She now serves as managing director of CARE Social ventures group, helping local philanthropic programs transform into commercial enterprises. These are just a few of the Impact MBA alumni who are harnessing their sustainability perspective in industries as diverse as global development, finance, public lands, and more.
Innovating for the Future
Business sustainability is a dynamic field that evolves quickly. Impact MBA staff and faculty continually innovate and evolve the degree by partnering with industry leaders and assessing new market trends. We participate in GreenBiz and other sustainability conferences and engage with industry innovators, disruptors, and thought leaders on sustainability-related topics such as the circular economy, net-zero business practices, and green finance.
When the industry makes its next leaps forward, the Impact MBA will be there at the forefront, educating tomorrow’s business leaders and equipping them to shape the next generation to achieve a sustainable future. We’ve been there for more than 15 years.
Kathryn Ernst is the director of the Impact MBA and has been with the program since 2010. An ’09 graduate of the program, Kat’s experience as a Peace Corps volunteer developing an organic coffee cooperative and co-founder of an aquaponics venture that served base-of-the-pyramid families in Peru, guides her commitment to developing the next generation of sustainable enterprise. Kat is a connector who believes we can only solve the world’s problems by bringing many voices to the conversation.
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