Inner Circle - October 2013

The Business Case for Sustainability

The Center for Sustainable Business Practices (CSBP) within the Business Innovation Institute at the Lundquist College of Business focuses on the business case for sustainability and on developing leaders who know how to integrate financial, environmental, and social goals. The basic premise is that companies committed to resource efficiency, ecologically responsible design, and continuous innovation can successfully deliver not only profitability, but a reduction of environmental impacts, and a business model that seeks to benefit people and the planet, while generating profits.

As many of you know, sustainability at the University of Oregon is not a new concept--it is in our DNA and part of our heritage. We've been teaching and practicing it for almost three decades. At the MBA and PhD levels, we have a dedicated and focused curriculum with courses on sustainable business development, supply chain operations, industrial ecology, management models, life cycle analysis, and more. At the undergraduate level, the themes of sustainability are interwoven into many courses, and efforts are underway to develop a sustainable business concentration. At every level, we have opportunities for students to address sustainable business challenges in action--through class projects with real companies, student organizations, speakers, and events.

At the heart of this curricular focus is our dedicated faculty--the thought leaders who advance Oregon's reputation for environmental innovation. They conduct research on many dimensions of sustainability and influence discussions both in the academic world and in corporate boardrooms. They are at the forefront of the latest issues in and approaches to sustainable business. For example, Ehrman Giustina Professor of Marketing Lynn Kahle's edited volume on green marketing, Communicating Sustainability for the Green Economy, is being published by M.E. Sharpe. Lundquist Professor of Sustainable Management Mike Russo and his coauthors explored Mexican consumers" willingness to pay for environmental certification in an article soon to be published in the Journal of Business Research. And associate professor of management Jennifer Howard-Grenville, who won one of fourteen prestigious UO Fund for Faculty Excellence Awards this year, is on sabbatical this year conducting her ongoing research on industrial ecology.

The CSBP speaker series additionally provides opportunities for students and faculty to engage with practitioners from around the world who come to discuss their approaches, challenges, and insights. Past guest speakers have included representatives from such organizations and companies as Oregon Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies, Dave's Killer Bread, Nike, Intel, Tektronix, sustainable development firm Gerding Edlen, and many others.

Our deep commitment to sustainability was recently recognized in a new set of global MBA program rankings. The Oregon MBA at the Lundquist College of Business is rated second in the United States and ninth worldwide in a new ranking of the “Top 30 Global Green MBA schools" by the Canadian business magazine Corporate Knights. Even better, for the magazine's list of the top ten small MBA programs--those with fewer than 100 graduates per year--the Oregon MBA was ranked second in the U.S. and third worldwide.

“We are proud to offer a world-class sustainable business program to students who want to both do well and do good," said Laura Strohm, CSBP program manager. “Sustainable business is the way of the future, where all the interesting new systems and innovative solutions are emerging. Our hands-on approach prepares students to truly become leaders in this field."

To reaffirm our focus on gaining recognition as a leader in the development of sustainable business practices, we will make funding of the CSBP a priority in our upcoming capital campaign, with an eye toward increasing funds for faculty, research, and global engagement. Help us get started and support the center today.

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Cornelis A. "Kees" de Kluyver
Dean and James and Shirley Rippey Distinguished Professor