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Business and Sustainability
Business Meets Sustainability at Bard
We will soon be nine billion people on one planet, each of us aspiring to a good quality of life. Can we meet human needs without destroying the ecological systems and exhausting the natural resources on which our civilization depends? And can we do this while treating workers and communities with justice and respect? Bard's MBA program delivers a world-class education in business fundamentals combined with the tools you need to answer YES to these questions.
Origins of Sustainable Business Education
The sustainability revolution in business began in the early 1990s when a handful of corporate leaders started to rethink the fundamental purpose of business enterprise. As the pioneering CEO of Interface Carpets, the late Ray Anderson, put it, "What is the business case for ending life on earth?" Focusing on resource efficiency, the circular economy, clean energy and community revitalization, innovative companies developed sustainability business practices that have begun to profitably solve key social and environmental problems. Responding to rising company and student demand, most business schools have now added a course or two on sustainability, renewable energy finance or CSR. But ninety percent of what conventional programs teach is still the single-bottom-line approach to business that drives many of the challenges we face. In 2012, Bard College launched the MBA in Sustainability in New York City, one of a select few graduate business education programs globally that fully integrates sustainability into a core business curriculum.
Bard MBA Curricular Philosophy: Business with Purpose
At the Bard MBA all of our business courses focus on how to build a financially successful business, business unit or organization that is committed to a social or environmental mission. Through our integrated core curriculum, Bard demands stronger mastery of comprehensive business literacy than is found in many conventional MBA programs, which typically have only a handful of required core courses. The reason is that the sources of sustainable business advantage are found not just in operations, in strategy, in marketing, or in employee engagement, but rather throughout the business. A holistic understanding of business management is critical to successfully drive sustainable and profitable outcomes.
The Bard MBA is centered around three verticals:
: How can I see opportunity where others see environmental and social costs?
: How can I engage others in the vision?
: How can I execute successfully on the vision?
All three are critical. Understanding sustainability and leadership is no use if graduates cannot actually execute on strategies to bring sustainability visions to life.
Bard’s core curriculum also gives unique visibility to the concepts and skills that we teach. Our faculty have worked together to develop Bard’s MBA Toolkit that describes the one-hundred and seventy concepts that students master over the course of the sixty-credit curriculum.
MBA in Sustainability vs. MS/MA in Sustainable Management
Most sustainability masters programs are MS or MA degrees, often in Sustainable Management. These programs are typically “cafeteria-style” degrees, allowing students to take courses from a list of business, science, policy or engineering degrees. The weakness of this scattershot approach is that it fails to adequately prepare students for business leadership. By contrast, Bard’s MBA in Sustainability has a carefully curated core
ensuring that students master key core concepts across the breadth of business management fields. At Bard, all students take semester-long fundamentals courses covering:
Management Consulting (Two-Semesters)
Operations and Supply Chain Management
Leading Change in Organizations
Human Resource Management
In addition, an MBA is widely considered to be a stronger degree then an MS, reflective of a more general skill set. According to
“Another drawback of specialized degrees can be
after a student graduates….The more well-rounded an individual is, probably the more expensive they are. If you bring a good skill set and multiple disciplines, you probably can command a higher salary."
MBA in Sustainability vs. MBA with Sustainability "Bolt-On"
Most business schools now offer a course or two in sustainability, sometimes even as a curricular track. However, in these cases, sustainability principles are “bolted-on, not baked in”. Even in MBA programs with a sustainability concentration, the majority of the classes a student takes will focus on a single-bottom line, with no insight provided on how to apply the tools to building a mission-driven business. Bard’s unique integration of sustainability into every class, our location at the heart of a vibrant sustainability center in New York, and our strong focus on sustainability careers, all are vital to opening post-graduation pathways into mission-driven organizations.