There was a time when sustainability education was reserved for environmentalists and idealistic visionaries. Now organization are increasingly seeing the expertise associated with sustainability as a critical success factor. As the value of sustainability degrees increase so too has the number of students who see the merit of such educational programs.
Net Impact’s Business as Unusual Guide 2013 (PDF) indicates that making an environmental and social impact through business has gone from “nice to have” to “must have” for prospective graduate business students.
A full 91 percent of 3,300 graduate students reported that social and environmental issues are very important or essential to business’s long-term success, and 85 percent said they wanted to address these issues.
Sustainability is increasingly ubiquitous in business schools. According to a 2013 report form the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, “social responsibility, including sustainability and ethical behavior and approaches to management” will be a standard in the curriculum content for all programs within AACSB accreditation, which encompasses a school network with more than 150,000 students.
Most MBA programs now integrate elements of sustainability. Some degrees (MBAs, Ph.Ds, B.A.s, B.S.s and certificate programs) focus explicitly on sustainability. The best programs combine academic learning with practical skills incorporating field experience. Such experiential learning helps students to go beyond being generalists so that they are real world problem solvers that bring exceptional value to an organization.
Sustainability programs are designed for a wide range of individuals from the young person just starting out in the world, to the accomplished executives in the middle of their careers.
An education focused on sustainability is a safe bet for students as demand for such expertise is strong and growing.
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