Oct. 21, 2003
SBPM on the Cutting Edge
Program Tops Aspen Institute List of Business Schools
for Fourth Consecutive Time
For the fourth consecutive time over a seven year period the Aspen Institute
has ranked The George Washington Universitys School of Business
and Public Management as one of six schools on the cutting-edge
for environmental and social sustainability MBA programs. Mark Starik,
associate professor of strategic management and public policy and director
of GWs Environmental and Social Sustainability Initiative (ESSI),
was joined by counterparts from the other cutting-edge schools
University of Michigan; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Yale
University; Stanford University; and York University (Schulich) in Toronto,
Canada for the Beyond Grey Pinstripes awards presentation in New
York Oct. 8.
Weve seen positive change this year and a lot of innovation
taking place in selected schools, said Judith Samuelson, executive
director of the Aspen Institutes Business and Society Program. But
the reality is too many MBA students still graduate without an understanding
of social impact and environmental management.
The six cutting-edge schools were selected based on their ability to infuse
social and environmental content into core courses, and have more extensive
faculty research on topics bearing directly on the management of social
and environmental impacts. These schools also support more extracurricular
and student initiated activities including conferences, seminars
and speakers that broaden understanding of social and environmental
Cutting-edge programs like these are producing leaders who can change
tomorrows business landscape, said Jonathan Lash, president
of World Resources Institute, one of the organizations that assessed the
programs. But a gap remains between the skills that are taught today
and the challenges business will face tomorrow.
GW also was cited as one of seven leaders in academic research on social
impact and environmental management. According to the Aspen Institute,
research conducted at GW and the other six schools Calgary; University
of Michigan; UNC, Chapel Hill; University of Pennsylvania; University
of California, Berkeley, and York University represents 30 percent
of all relevant research identified from the 100 schools ranked. Research
conducted through the GW initiative is grouped in two areas peer-reviewed
research centering on sustainability issues of business organizations
and their stakeholders and scholarly and practitioner-related research.
Since the Aspen Institute began Beyond Grey Pinstripes, the criteria has
changed dramatically. The ranking started as a list of business and environmental
programs only, then social issues were added as a separate category, next
the ranking became biennial, and finally Aspen merged the categories to
judge schools on both their social and environmental programs. Because
the assessment process has changed so much over the years, several universities
have made appearances among the leading schools, only to be dropped in
subsequent rankings. Few have had the kind of staying power shown by GW.
Yale, UNC Chapel Hill and Michigan have been in there with us pretty
much all the way, said Starik.
Starik points to GWs location in Washington, DC, as key reason why
the initiative is so highly regarded.
Its happening all around us. We have so many nonprofit government
organizations and some business organizations who put into practice some
leadership programs in these areas, weve drawn on that, he
Last summer, the ESSI partnered with the management consulting practicum,
to create a consulting project with the World Resources Institute (WRI).
A number of different organizations work with them, explained
Starik. Our students were consulting with WRI trying to figure out
if businesses who claim to be sustainability-oriented actually hire employees
with sustainability skills. The findings were not anywhere near as good
as one might hope. Businesses are starting to walk the talk, but they
have a long way to go.
Beyond Grey Pinstripes ranked more than 100 leading MBA programs, most
accredited by either the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of
Business or the European Foundation for Management Development, representing
schools from 20 countries. The program seeks to: celebrate innovation
in business education; inform students about environmental and social
impact management content in business schools; challenge business schools
to incorporate social impact and environmental management topics into
their curricula; and let corporate recruiters know which business schools
are providing training in social and environmental skills.
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