In this new series, we’re pointing the spotlight on sustainability at MBA programs–how it’s incorporated into their curriculum, related resources for students, and more. For this edition, the Yale School of Management (Yale SOM) digs into how they support sustainability.
Clear Admit: How does the curriculum for full-time MBA students support leadership in sustainability, or how is it evolving to do so?
Yale SOM: Assistant Dean Gabriel Rossi recently shared, “Sustainability has long been a strength of The Yale School of Management. As a founding partner of Yale’s Center for Business and the Environment, SOM is a hub for sustainability teaching and research. Beyond a robust set of electives dealing with topics at the intersection of business and the environment—such as Energy Systems Analysis; Metrics, Tools and Indicators in Corporate Responsibility; and Financing Green Technologies—sustainability topics are integrated into SOM’s core MBA curriculum. For example, core courses offer modules on ESG frameworks and sustainability reporting, and leverage cases focused on sustainably-themed companies such as Beyond Meat.”
EMBA MBA for Executives program (EMBA)
With volatile commodity prices, resource scarcity, and growing public scrutiny of business operations throughout the entire value chain, achieving greater social and environmental sustainability has become a managerial imperative across industries. Forward-looking businesses are converting constraints traditionally viewed as challenges to growth into the inspiration and motivation for product, operational, and business model innovation. EMBA students specializing in sustainability are offered courses and colloquium sessions that demonstrate that to make sustainability a corporate success, there needs to be a combination of an in-depth understanding of markets and organizations with a grasp of major trends and a facility with frameworks for driving transformative innovation.
Alongside the integrated core curriculum, in their first year, students increase their grasp of big ideas and trends in the business of sustainability by participating in the Colloquium on Sustainability Leadership, a series of candid talks with innovators, CEOs of global corporations, policymakers, and other people shaping the field. In their second year, students take advanced business and management courses, and a series of deep explorations of topics in sustainability. These courses are taught by experts from the School of Management and other parts of the university, including the Yale School of the Environment. The program builds on a long history of collaboration between SOM and YSE, exemplified in the Center for Business and the Environment at Yale.
Here are a small sample of elective courses that full time MBA students can take across the university.
A broader list of relevant practicum courses can be found here.
Renewable Energy Project Finance: The course is a highly interactive practicum, taught by Daniel Gross (a Yale College, SOM and YSE alumni) who brings over 20 years of expertise in deploying clean energy at scale through innovative finance and investing mechanisms. This course exposes students to real-world tools of project finance as well as the theory underlying them. In place of a textbook, students are provided with approximately 400 pages of actual project documents used for a U.S. wind energy project constructed relatively recently. The document set is akin to what one would encounter if working for a utility project developer, project finance lender or infrastructure equity investment firm. This course continues to be one of the largest elective courses at YSE or SOM.
Climate Solutions Capstone: Sub-National Actors Clinic: This capstone course provides students the opportunity to work in teams with clients from state government, city government, academic institutions and/or the non-profit sector. Representative clients may include the State of Connecticut, the City of New Haven, the US Climate Alliance, SustainableCT, Yale University, AudubonCT, the Trust for Public Land, Save the Sound, or similar organizations. Students will analyze, model, and/or implement de-carbonization policies and programs in key sectors, including electricity, buildings, transportation, materials management, and/or natural/working lands. The course starts with introductory sessions on the climate crisis, as well as teamwork and consulting skills. Most class sessions are split between a seminar-style discussion on innovative sub-national de-carbonization policies, and time for students to work on their projects, with opportunities for feedback and guidance from the instructor and each other. At the end of the semester, the students present their findings and recommendations to their project clients and each other.
Sustainable Business Capstone Consulting Clinic: This course provides students with a ‘capstone’ experience; consulting to established organizations confronting real-life challenges at the intersection of business and environmental sustainability. The course is designed for students to apply tools and insights gained in this and other courses to a defined project, creating deliverables that will be useful to the partner organizations. Through a combination of individual & group work and lively discussion, students establish an understanding of the client’s wider Purpose and Priorities; then help co-define and connect the Potential success of the project with the organization’s broader goals. Students work together in small consulting teams, holding each other accountable to Perform, creating defined deliverables for the client.
Natural Capital – Risks and Opportunities in Global Resource Systems: Natural resource constraints affect most, if not all, functional areas of the modern corporation, but the dilemmas posed by these constraints have yet to be solved. This course is built around six global resource systems—materials, energy, food, water, climate, land and biodiversity—with two weeks devoted to each system; week one is an overview of the resource system, and week two provides an active business case. The course provides a vehicle for students to explore the ways in which businesses are dependent on natural resources, as well as the risks facing continued access to them and the accompanying opportunities for innovation. This course is part of the Global Network for Advanced Management, which means students also gain experience working in global, cross-cultural teams.
Connected Leadership Online: In 2023, in partnership with Poorvu and Yale Online, CBEY launched a new online learning opportunity taught by Peter Boyd. Over the past 8 years, Peter Boyd has taught Yale graduate students and coached senior leaders across industry sectors on how to achieve goal clarity and intentional use of time across their professional and personal lives. This course takes his work to a new level and brings beyond Yale’s campus to have maximum impact. The Connected Leadership course is designed to help people confirm their Purpose, clarify their Priorities, visualize their Potential, and hold each learner and others accountable for making measurable Progress.
CA: What additional resources, such as clubs, centers, etc., are available for those who want to pursue careers in sustainability?
Yale SOM: The SOM Sustainability Committee (SC) is a student-run organization dedicated to improving sustainability at Yale SOM. SC just held its 2023 Sustainability Fair, which showcased environmental organizations both within Yale and in the greater New Haven community. Additional events planned for this year include the annual clothes swap, zero waste workshops, and graduation regalia rental and donation drive with proceeds to the SOM Internship Fund. Most of SOM Sustainability Committee’s work is focused on improving sustainability in Evans Hall and in student practices. Some of the initiatives we will be working on this year include working with the Dean’s Office to publish SOM’s Sustainability Action Plan, work towards the installation of solar panels on the roof of Evans Hall, conducting a waste audit, and collaborating with other graduate schools on a graduate student subsidy for Peels & Wheels Composting.
Yale School of Management also has other clubs related to sustainability efforts that include:
- Net Impact Club
- Social Impact Consulting Club
- Wilderness Leadership Development Club
- Food, Agribusiness and Beverage Club
- Business & the Environment Club
Co-Curricular Discussions Groups and Intensives
Climate Innovation Intensive
The intensive aims to provide students with structured frameworks and tools to explore climate innovation through workshops along with curated candid conversations to understand the different lenses of entrepreneurship within environmental innovation. Climate innovation will be explored through discussions with startup founders, ecosystem stakeholders, as well as investors, and other partners who play a critical role in financing and scaling these innovations.
The intensive brings together startups, investors, and other partners through a cohort-based program. We will be exploring innovations that span circular economy, deeptech, and platform solutions. The intensive will run every Monday and Thursday over five weeks, with a 4-hour commitment per week. 35-40 students participate each year and is a collaboration between the Yale Center for Business and the Environment.
CBEY 2050 Fellows
The CBEY 2050 Fellows is an interdisciplinary group of Yale graduate and professional students who come together monthly to imagine a responsible economy, resilient societies, and how business can help make them possible.
Convened by Patagonia Director of Philosophy (and CBEY Resident Fellow) Vincent Stanley, the group’s meetings are peer-led, open-ended conversations around the future of business and the environment. Throughout the year, the 2050 Fellows discuss the components of a responsible economy, covering topics like regenerative agriculture, the future of suburbs, and the decoupling of labor and productivity.
More about this program can be found at https://cbey.yale.edu/programs/cbey-2050-fellows
Shifting Power and Resources: Equity and Justice Work in Practice
This multidisciplinary group of Yale graduate and professional school students will come together in a monthly discussion group to dig into real-world challenges and inspiring examples of liberatory practices in businesses, organizations, and communities to adopt these learnings into their lives and work. Sessions will center the topics of food systems, equitable business models, racial, economic, & environmental justice, and moving beyond western concepts of sustainability. Conversations will also examine ways to operationalize values; the importance of active listening for success; and race, class, and power dynamics in particular within community/university and workplace relationships.
More about this program can be found at: https://cbey.yale.edu/programs/power-race-in-community-business-and-the-environment
Career Pathways in Business and the Environment
Private corporations have increasingly stepped forward as leaders in the realm of social and environmental sustainability. By re-thinking their operations and products, companies are actively driving change and making a positive impact. Students across Yale are eager to join this movement, as they seek to launch careers in the private sector that focus on doing good for communities, ecosystems, and the planet.
The Pathways in Business and the Environment series brings sustainability-oriented professionals to campus to discuss the work they do and the journeys they have taken in their careers. By sharing their stories, speakers provide a set of possible roadmaps for students to follow (or avoid). From the outside, roles at the intersection of business and the environment can be difficult to navigate. This Pathways series aims to give students an idea of the array of opportunities that exist, from the big-picture strategy to the day-to-day details. Events in the series are engaging interactive, with a focus on practical career guidance.
What the Heck Do I Actually Do? – Small group discussions
The Yale Center for Business and the Environment, SOM’s Business & Environment Club, and YSE’s Business & Environment Learning Community to coordinate small group discussions with professionals for more intimate conversations about the specific roles they hold, industry trends, and career advice.
Sustainability can mean various different programs, jobs and skills to different people in the field of business and the environment.
These downloadable guides are meant to:
- provide a guide for students to think about different sectors, companies and organizations engaged in each career path
- provide resources, courses, events and alumni examples to help students understand their career options
The Pathways program is supported by CBEY as well as the Career Development Offices at both the School of Management and the School of the Environment.
More about this program can be found at: https://cbey.yale.edu/programs/pathways-in-business-and-the-environment
The Yale Clean Energy Collaborative
The goal of the Yale Clean Energy Collaborative is to create a shared forum to facilitate the free exchange of ideas and connections through a cooperatively governed and decentralized network of Yale programs, faculty, staff, and students in the clean energy space.
This network of connections across campus and subsequent online platform are being created by and for the community of clean energy students, faculty, and staff at Yale. The Collaborative will streamline and facilitate communication into one tool, allowing members to post events, opportunities, research, and more, while also being able to see the work of other organizations and individuals on campus within the Collaborative.
The Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY) supports students in many ways. In addition to all the programs and initiatives listed above, CBEY coordinate one-on-one and group interactions with mentors, workshops on finding purpose in careers, offer communications coaching in advance of student public speaking engagements, and support travel for students to attend conferences as well as pitch competitions.
More information about the program can be found here
CBEY Resident Fellows
CBEY Fellows have an extended presence on campus and work closely with students to accelerate innovative environmental action across campus via office hours, small group discussions and programming.
CBEY Alumni Visiting Mentors
Each academic year, CBEY connects hundreds of students in meaningful, one-on-one engagements through our CBEY Alumni Visiting Experts program. This annual initiative brings together a diverse cohort of 10-12 alumni to serve as a resource for students. Experts this year consisted of professional alumni from the Yale School of the Environment and the Yale School of Management who represented a range of industries. Alumni Experts gave at least 20 hours of time to each student while contributing to CBEY programming more broadly.
World Business Council for Sustainable Development Summer Internships
CBEY world with the WBCSD to connect students with professionals at the forefront of sustainable development. CBEY fully funds four internships where students are connected with different departments at the WBCSD working on areas such as advancing mobility decarbonization, accelerating healthy soil agriculture practices, and supporting corporate climate action.
In addition to working closely in one of the WBCSD’s programs, Students in this program also:
- Participate in cohort-based meetings to learn more about WBCSD, how they work, and their relationships with other organizations
- Present their insights and recommendations to internal stakeholders
- Receive a $10,000 stipend for the summer.
Planetary Solutions in Clean Energy Internships and Fellowships
This program offers summer research and internship opportunities to students at Yale who are committed to advancing energy equity and pursuing a career in the clean energy field. This program strongly encourages those with financial need and those under-represented in the field of clean energy to participate.
The fellowship research has a focus on energy justice, scalable decarbonization innovations, municipalities, and sub-national actors moving on climate change solutions, or beyond. The internships are with non-profit, low-profit, and governmental organizations that are committed to energy equity and the investment in and deployment of clean energy into low- and middle-income communities.
CA: How is your business school embracing sustainable practices in terms of campus life? Are there any environmentally friendly features you would like to highlight about the facilities?
Yale SOM: Some of Evans Hall’s sustainability features include:
- A 25,000-gallon rainwater collection tank and an advanced low-flow irrigation system that includes moisture and rain sensors, intended to cut outdoor water use by 50 percent
- Chilled beams and radiant floor systems that use radiative and convective air flows respectively to heat and cool spaces. HVAC fans and water pumps are equipped with variable frequency drives that allow motor speeds to be lowered when less flow is needed
- High-performance windows, interior and exterior solar shading, a reflective white roof, additional wall and roof insulation, LED lighting, daylight-controlled lighting, light-dimming controls, and garage ventilation controlled by CO sensors, which together are expected to reduce annual energy consumption by at least 12%
- Student access to covered parking for 104 bicycles in the underground garage and four shower/changing rooms adjacent to the locker room.
- High-efficiency plumbing fixtures, such as dual-flush water closets, pint flush urinals, and low-flow lavatory faucets and showerheads, that contribute to an expected indoor water consumption reduction of more than 20%
- Use of significant recycled content in reinforcing steel, metal acoustic ceilings, and structural steel. Much of the building’s wood was harvested, processed, and manufactured using sustainable forestry practices.