Saturday MBA Students Learn about Sustainability & the Business Enterprise
The first cohort of the new Saturday MBA program spent Fall semester (2011) learning about sustainability and how to integrate concepts of sustainability into the business organization from the functional perspectives of accounting, environmental economics, HR, marketing, and strategy. The course took an integrated approach through the cooperative teaching and leading of class discussion and learning for the semester. The Sustainability Teaching Team included: Rod Smith, Ingrid Martin, Wade Martin, and Vicki Scherwin.
One of the critical learning tools in this course was the site visits and guest speakers that were integrated into the curriculum of the course. We visited the Port of Long Beach and learned about their “Greening of the Port” accomplishments and future plans. The Aquarium of the Pacific was another site visit that helped the students learn more about how an organization is working to become a Green Aquarium through its internal strategies as well as the use of education programs to teach the community about the importance of sustainability.
A second critical learning tool is the use of client projects focused on sustainability. These projects demonstrate the focus of the MBA program to create and foster relationships with the business community through such organizations as the Green Business Council of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, the Center for Community Engagement at CSULB, etc. The clients that were the focus this semester included the Aquarium of the Pacific, the Villages at Cabrillo, Blue Gecko Community Garden Project, and the Marine Exchange Renewal Energy Project for the Port of L.A.
These projects had two components to them – client consulting and teaching projects. The second part – teaching project – involved the teams teaching a stakeholder group about a sustainability issue. These two projects were extended over two semesters as a way to effectively deliver a consulting project and a teaching program to this group of CBA stakeholders.
Testimonials from the clients include the following:
Jerry Schubel, President and CEO of the Aquarium of the Pacific: "Working with CSULB's MBA students and its MBA program is a continued source of sound advice and intellectual stimulation. The students always bring fresh perspectives to every issue they take on, increase the number and diversity of management options, and provide important analyses for us to use in selecting among the options. It is a partnership we are committed to for the long run.
Brian D’Andrea, President, Century Villages at Cabrillo: “It was extremely beneficial to have a group of bright, energetic professionals take a look at some of the “green” opportunities that have been presented to Century Villages by outside firms seeking our business. […] The students presented a series of realistic recommendations for our organization that will help to save money and make CVC a more sustainable community. These recommendations formed a substantial part of CVC’s $1.0 million of applications to the Port of Long Beach’s recent Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction grant. We look forward to our continued collaboration into the future.”
Kathleen Irvine, President and Owner of Blue Gecko Design: “Working with the CSULB MBA students in the Sustainability course was an incredible experience for me. As a small business owner and proponent of sustainability in all its forms, the concepts, business strategies and marketing ideas were invaluable. Armed with all this great information, I feel confident in moving forward successfully with the new direction of my business.”
Feedback from the MBA Students on the class was also very positive. For example:
Catherine Gutierrez: “The class proved to be very helpful for my organization as a whole. We have a defined market in the UK for a sustainability application of our prequalification software. Having the class share their thoughts on how the application could work for us has allowed our company to begin to build new software that could answer this need and look at providing audit services that focus a company's efforts on their sustainability. […]. The company was so pleased with the results and I'm thrilled to have been able to have a great application.”
Jennifer Rheault-Stellmacher, Saturday MBA Program, Cohort 1: “The class assignment, which required each student to present to the class the measures that our individual companies have made towards green or sustainability measures, was very helpful. As a result of this project, I have become involved with my CEO and COO to ensure that we have the necessary measures in place, as well as we are not green washing. In all, the class allowed me to immediately apply my educational insights to real-life scenarios in my company. The return on investment was immediate and high.
I wanted to pass along my appreciation for the community service & sustainability aspects of the Practicum and how we were encouraged to apply our Sustainability class insights. I really like the idea of investing in our community first in order to strengthen our community's sustainable future.”
Michael Bradford, Saturday MBA Program, Cohort 1: “I fully enjoyed and benefited from the graduate Sustainability course taken at California State University, Long Beach. I have taken the knowledge learned in the course and shared it with peers and colleagues. I believe the course to be very pertinent for any business manager. Driving points are that all companies will need to jump on the sustainability train and it behooves organizations to start looking at business through the lens of the Triple Bottom Line. Besides the environmental and social benefits, conducting business in such a way can create a competitive advantage, can edge out lagging competitors and, thus, will have a benefit to the economic line.