How did the Certificate in Corporate Sustainability come about?
Members and leaders of New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility (NHBSR) had been discussing for several years the need for advanced learning opportunities in business and sustainability education. NHBSR members were seeking something more than a one-day conference, but not as involved as a full MBA program. With that need in mind, the leadership of NHBSR approached UNH’s Sustainability Academy and the Whittemore School of Business and Economics (WSBE). With months of collaborative planning between these three organizations, as well as with faculty from across campus and area business leaders, the curriculum emerged. The Certificate in Corporate Sustainability has two aspects: an Institute in Corporate Sustainability and a capstone project. Participants attend a three-day Institute in Corporate Sustainability where various issues related to leading a socially and environmentally responsible business are explored. All Institute topics are team-taught – balancing academic theory and research with practical business examples and tools. In developing this program, we felt that knowledge and skills acquired during the Institute alone would not be sufficient to martial change efforts in the work environment. To achieve the full Certificate, participants elect to complete a capstone project in their workplace. The purpose of this project is to directly apply the new information gained during the Institute to their work, with the intent of creating sustainable change.
What role do business leaders and students play in making sustainability happen at UNH?
Every day, every person – whether they are a student or the leader of a large, multi-national enterprise - has the opportunity to make choices about how to live their life and how to operate in the world. These choices can be as seemingly simple as choosing to ride your bike, walk or take the bus to campus or as elaborate as choosing to innovate product design to have less environmental impact. WSBE is actively working to develop future business leaders – ones who can focus on not just on increasing the bottom line, but in cultivating sustainable business cultures. The Certificate in Corporate Sustainability is one significant step in sharing best practices between academia and the business world: there are opportunities for both sectors to learn from one another. I hope to see more collaborative, interdisciplinary programs that leverage the strengths and knowledge of both worlds to work towards a more sustainable future.
What motivates you personally to be involved in sustainability?
Many responsible businesses define sustainability as the intersection of “people, profits and planet” to create increased value for each. What motivates me is not the profit aspect of this “triple bottom line” but the people and the planet. A love of the outdoors and a curiosity about our natural world are what initially sparked my interest in and practices of sustainability as a young adult. However, today, it is working with people that motivate me the most in my work and personal life. The participants involved with the Certificate in Corporate Sustainability are incredibly motivating to me. In the coming months we will see about 20 presentations from these participants on the sustainable changes they will implement in their workplaces. This represents a remarkable wave of progress in creating more socially and environmentally responsible businesses. In the executive education programs I manage, I am delighted to highlight the sustainability efforts of the local business owners we work with. These individuals provide inspiration to me and to our corporate clients on how to lead responsibly.