Three elements to consider when evaluating sustainable business programs

Social impact careers are on the rise, and business schools are offering an array of credentials for students who want to work in the field. From a sustainable or “green” MBA to certificates and sustainability majors, now there are more options than ever before.

In case your career hasn’t had a direct connection with sustainability, social responsibility is relevant in the formation of every student in a business school. Initiatives like energy-efficient facilities and waste reduction are relevant and discussed inside offices. But supply shortages, employee retention and racial and gender injustice are social challenges that businesses need to address, as well. No matter what job you land, social challenges will affect the organization that you work for.

Organizations are also starting to establish a definition of sustainability. Their standard is the one laid out by the United Nations. The U.N. initiative recognizes that all businesses are influenced in some capacity by the same environmental, social and political forces that affect society at large and that businesses can help solve them.

Concepts such as reducing poverty, improving health and well-being, providing decent work and economic growth, and encouraging responsible consumption and production are all relevant issues that need to be addressed by every organization. Traditional occupations in accounting, marketing, management, human resources, logistics and operations all allow for tremendous opportunity to address this broader definition of sustainability.

The demand is growing for social impact careers. Turning to an academic credential is a great way in. But what should you look for in a program? Your goals are a crucial part in making the decision. Here are a few ways to evaluate if a program is up to your needs.

Check out the alumni

Job placement is important to every business school. The last thing you want is to work hard to earn your degree and then have a hard time finding a job. Before you even decide which program to attend, find people who have the job you want. Where did they go to school? What credentials do they have? Use their path as inspiration for your own.

Check out the faculty and curriculum

The social impact space is constantly changing. For example, with the pivotal nature of the death of George Floyd and violent acts towards minorities by police officers, corporations became expected to address racial and social justice in their organization and practices. The curriculum that faculty taught two years ago might need an update, so make sure what they’re teaching in the classroom is current by looking at course topics and descriptions. Key indicators of a cutting-edge program are research faculty making an impact in their field and society, and working professionals  infused into the curriculum. Speaker series, experiential-based projects and advisory boards are all ways to make sure what you are learning is relevant right now.

Check out the extracurricular programs

In any strong program, there should be so many opportunities that you actually can’t do everything. Look for professional organizations such as Enactus and Net Impact, as well as business model and case competitions. You should have the opportunity to work on research projects that enhance your critical thinking skills while also contributing to new knowledge in the field, and there should be opportunities for you to engage in research that connects with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

And of course, no matter which program you choose, it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of research and society outside the classroom. Become a connoisseur of the latest research and media, and keep an eye on announcements from sector leaders . One of the most exciting aspects of a social impact career is that you’re constantly learning something new.

To build a more sustainable future for our children and the next generations, everyone’s participation is essential. That’s why at eSmart Recycling, we believe in public-private partnerships. We would not be able to deliver equipment to at-risk children and families in the same way if many community stakeholders were not involved; from our corporate partners, to our non-profit partners.

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