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Ian Edwards, MBA

Ian Edwards, MBA '15

Business "as usual" no longer applies in a world in which we need to vastly rethink how we use resources, maximize our environment, and treat our human capital. With this, Bard's unique MBA in Sustainability is on point—providing foundational MBA learning, with sustainability embedded at all levels. It's a necessary focus for business leaders to understand impacts, risks, opportunities, and strategy as we grapple with game-changing sustainability issues such as global warming.

We will soon be nine billion people on one world, 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?

The answer lies in sustainable business. 

Sustainability in Business

A sustainable company has a central mission: to help solve the critical social and environmental problems of the 21st century. 

A sustainable company radically rethinks the way business is designed. Serious sustainability is not just about conserving water or energy. Sustainable companies aspire to operate on principles engineered by nature:

· No pollution: In nature, all waste is food.

· No energy crisis: Nature runs on abundant renewable energy.

· No system too big to fail: Nature promotes diversity.

A sustainable company is profitable, yet maximizing returns to shareholders is not the goal. Reinvested profit enables companies to pursue their mission, taking solutions to environmental and social problems to the scale that science and justice demand.

A sustainable company inspires committed membership. Sustainability demands that companies fully engage workers, customers, suppliers, financiers, and communities in the underlying mission of building a sustainable world. 

Sustainable Business Education

The sustainability revolution in business began 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’s the business case for ending life on earth?” By the late 1990s, innovative companies had begun to develop sustainability business practices as a successful challenge to business as usual.

Sustainability at Bard

Bard College, the home of the Bard MBA program, is an ongoing laboratory for business sustainability. Bard was an early adopter of the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS), gaining a silver rating. STARS is a point-based system similar in concept to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), with points assigned in three overarching categories: operations, planning and administration, and curriculum.

Social Entrepreneurs and Sustainability

What is the difference between a graduate business program in “social entrepreneurship” and the Bard MBA in Sustainability? Social entrepreneurs focus on only two bottom lines: a social mission and financial sustainability. Bard’s program, by contrast, integrates three bottom lines: planet, profit, and people. We foreground a business strategy predicated on meeting human needs, achieving continuous reduction in ecological impact, and treating all stakeholders with justice and respect.