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A natural fit

Courses on financial, social and environmental sustainability support the School's core mission

By Rachel Farrell

One of the defining features of the Kellogg School is its dual mission of creating knowledge and producing socially responsible global leaders. Or, in the words of Dean Dipak Jain, moving its students from "success to significance."

In that regard, courses on sustainability fit naturally into the goals of the school. "It's hard to be significant without being sustainable," notes Sunil Chopra, senior associate dean and IBM Distinguished Professor of Operations Management and Information Systems.  "At the same time, the impact of what you do has to be sustainable for it to be significant."

Moreover, sustainability classes emphasize the "pillar" of leadership and social responsibility while challenging students to put skills they've learned in other courses to the test. "A lot of the ideas that are being taught in the other classes are refined and applied in the sustainability curriculum," says Chopra. "Environmental economics courses, for example, require students to take the ideas they've been taught in microeconomics classes and strategy classes and apply them.

"When you're doing finance, when you're doing marketing, you're trying to create sustainable value for society," Chopra concludes. "So I think this fits in extremely well with our goals."

The Kellogg School currently offers the following courses on sustainability and, Chopra says, plans to expand the curriculum further in the near future.

Sustainability Lab
In this lab course, students work in small teams on sustainability-driven projects for a client company. Their work is overseen by a team of faculty advisers. "It's a real learning experience and a powerful one," says Klaus Weber, assistant professor of Management & Organizations. "Students learn just how complex it is to make a company more sustainable. They develop a much more integrated and informed perspective on what it takes to transform companies or take new products to market."

Business Design for Environmental Sustainability
In this course, students learn how the green redesign of core organizational processes is generating competitive advantages for existing companies throughout the world. They also develop skills in identifying and prioritizing green business practices in light of shareholder value and ecological integrity, and consider how relations within the organization can foster or undermine commitments to sustainability.

Corporate Social Responsibility
This course explores how leading corporations design, manage and measure social strategies to generate business value. "The purpose is to teach and prepare students to be leaders in social innovation," says instructor Jason Saul, lecturer of social enterprise. "I want them to understand the concepts of social responsibility and how to use them to create value in the market."

Cases in Sustainability
Using case studies, students examine the three main components of corporate sustainability: financial, social and environmental. Students explore the strategy and execution of major Fortune 500 organizations in today's context and learn how to incorporate sustainability issues, opportunities and approaches in the executive decision-making process.

Strategies, Structures and Tools for Sustaining Innovation
For an innovation to be sustainable, organizations must take more into account than concerns about environmental and corporate social responsibility. In this course, students consider a wide range of potential threats to the success of an innovation and assess the related and underlying economic, developmental, historical, social and cultural-anthropological factors.

Environmental Management and Sustainability
In this course, students focus on topics at the intersection of environmental policy, innovation, sustainability and corporate strategy, including environmental markets, green technology in transportation and buildings, nonprofit and for-profit partnerships, and green marketing and product labeling.

Sustainable (Green) Real Estate Development 
By analyzing the concepts associated with environmental design and construction, as well as the financial costs and benefits, students learn about the history of sustainable real estate development, as well as the latest advances and trends. "We talk about the rating system, the conflicts in development, green building techniques, things that work and don't work so well," says lecturer Denise Akason, who teaches the class. "Sustainability used to be something that no one in real estate heard of; now, it's a part of how [the industry] operates."

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