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MBA & Sustainability Spotlight: Northwestern Kellogg

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With insights from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, we continue to learn about how the MBA and sustainability go hand in hand. Read on for how the leading business school supports sustainability inside and outside of the classroom.

Clear Admit: How does the curriculum for full-time MBA students support leadership in sustainability, or how is it evolving to do so?

Northwestern Kellogg: Kellogg has been at the forefront of teaching sustainable innovation by equipping our students with frameworks and toolkits needed to develop business strategies that address climate change. Our world-class faculty and curriculum serve as the backbone of our community and provide students with an understanding of the impacts that business practices have on the environment.

With more than 20 courses grounded in climate, environment and energy, the curriculum is designed to support Kellogg Leaders in better decision-making to improve sustainability within business — including two newly introduced courses:

  • Managing Sustainability Transformations, which explores the paradigm shift in corporate sustainability as no longer just a matter of compliance or social responsibility but as becoming a material imperative for the future viability of the business.
  • ESG Investing and Sustainability Reporting, in which students learn how firms communicate ESG information, how vendors and analysts analyze ESG information to build sustainability-related metrics and how investors use them to make portfolio decisions.

Other key courses include Decision Making for Sustainable Business, Sustainability Lab, The Economics of Energy Markets, Impact Investing and Sustainable Finance, Public Economics for Business Leaders: Federal Policy, Early Stage Impact Investing and GIM: Sustainable Ventures.

Overall, our Energy & Sustainability Pathway gives students an opportunity to develop a deep expertise in the economics and strategy of energy markets, corporate sustainability and sustainable investing and entrepreneurship. Students can expect to learn from different approaches including conceptual frameworks in academic courses, experiential learning and interdisciplinary collaboration opportunities. Additionally, students can also elect to take courses from Northwestern’s Institute for Energy and Sustainability (ISEN). Currently, there are more than 25 courses on the topics of sustainability and energy ranging from physical sciences and engineering to social science, business, communication and law.

CA: What additional resources, such as clubs, centers, etc., are available for those who want to pursue careers in sustainability?

NK: Outside of the classroom, students have the option to exercise their interest and passion in sustainability through co-curricular activities, such as:

  • Joining Kellogg’s student-run Energy and Sustainability Club (KESC), which fosters a sense of community among over 450 members, ensuring a robust network and comprehensive support for those passionate about the climate transition.
  • Students launching sustainability focused ventures are eligible for up to $5,000 a quarter to use towards venture expenses and can pursue the venture full time over the summer with the support of a $10,000 stipend.
  • Students pursuing a sustainability career full time after graduation are eligible for Loan Assistance Awards, which are used to pay down student debt in the first two years following graduation. Awards typically range from $25k-$75k.
  • Participating in Kellogg’s Climate Conference, held for the first time in 2022, which brings together students, Kellogg alumni and speakers, sponsors and industry participants to discuss pressing policy-aligned strategies and scalable climate solutions.
  • Or, joining over 100 teams in the Kellogg-Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge, an event which invites graduate students from around the world to develop and pitch creative financial approaches to tackle pressing social and environmental challenges.

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?

NK: The Kellogg Global Hub, completed in 2017, is our five-story, 415,000-square-foot campus building in Evanston. Its thoughtful planning, design and construction reflect our school’s dedication to creating an open, collaborative space while upholding high environmental standards. The Global Hub boasts a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification, earning the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest green building rating. Additionally, the building earned 23 of 26 possible LEED points because its location offers occupants easy access to multiple forms of sustainable transportation.

Some notable sustainable features or construction practices for the Global Hub include:

  • Nearly 80 percent of waste generated during construction was diverted from landfills through recycling or reuse
  • The construction team used low-emitting paints, adhesives, sealants and other materials for better indoor air quality
  • An advanced ventilation system circulates fresh air throughout the building
  • Triple-glazed windows keep spaces cool in the summer and warm in the winter, lowering energy consumption
  • Daylight sensors minimize the need for artificial lighting indoors
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures in restrooms and kitchens, reducing water consumption by 40 percent

CA: Do you have any future plans related to sustainability that you’d like to share?

NK: As part of its commitment to sustainability, Kellogg has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality across its operations by the year 2030. In partnership with Northwestern University, we will pursue a number of strategies to achieve this goal, including reducing energy consumption in our facilities, exploring opportunities for green power procurement, and pursuing high quality carbon offsets when needed. Any future Kellogg facilities will be built with an all-electric future in mind and designed to maximize energy efficiency. We are also committed to the regular assessment of our building and organizational emissions to identify further opportunities for carbon reduction.

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.