Select students in the McDonough School of Business’ MBA program began classes for a new certificate program centered around business sustainability this semester.
The certificate in sustainable business will focus on general business approaches to environmentalism, with specific emphasis on supply chain management, the general management of the goods and services supplied to a business and corporate environmental sustainability. MSB certificates provide students the opportunity to supplement general curriculum requirements with specific topics.
Inspiration for the certificate first developed about five years ago when elective courses about sustainable business were created by MSB professor Vishal Agrawal, who will serve as academic director of the certificate program, Agrawal said in an interview with The Hoya.
“For the last four or five years, I started developing electives on this topic so that was sort of my goal initially,” Agrawal said. “So that was sort of the impetus behind developing a certificate in this case, a way for students to signal their experience, their qualifications and their knowledge in this space.”
Adding the certificate to the MSB not only reflects a demand by businesses to further address the topic in MBA programs, but also promotes Georgetown’s Jesuit teaching values, Paul Almeida, MSB dean and William R. Berkley chair, wrote in an email to The Hoya.
“As companies are increasingly focused on sustainable business practices, it is essential that we strengthen our curricular offerings in this area,” Almeida wrote. “We have a longstanding Jesuit tradition of teaching our graduates how to do right by their companies while also doing right by the world. This certificate is another way in which we can leverage the unique character of Georgetown to ensure we are educating students to become principled leaders in an increasingly complex world.”
Under the new certificate, students will complete a 10.5-credit combination of core and elective courses relevant to the program, according to the press release. Two courses, “Environmentally Sustainable Operations and Business Models” and “Corporate Social Responsibility,” are required to complete the certificate in addition to 4.5 credits from a list of approximately six approved electives.
Though the required courses in the program provide a comprehensive view of the topic, Agrawal additionally plans to implement supplemental activities to further distinguish the program from other certificates.
“Those two required courses together sort of really provide a good encompassing of for-profit versus non-profit, and social versus environmental, and sort of laying down the groundwork for sustainable business,” Agrawal said. “Now the other thing which will be going along with this is that we’ll be planning a bunch of different activities: case competitions, industry events, career and networking events, to sort of really provide way more than just ticking the boxes.”
The first class of students in the program began the certificate at the start of the spring 2020 semester, and applications for the next cohort are currently open.
Though the program is currently in its first semester, there are already plans and policies in place to enhance the program in the future, Prashant Malaviya, associate professor of marketing and senior associate dean of MBA programs, wrote in an email to The Hoya.
“The way this certificate and all of our other certificates evolve over time is essentially by an addition of new electives that are relevant for the certificate or through the revision of current courses that are part of the certificate,” Malaviya wrote. “We do an ongoing curricular review and innovation process and these certificates would be subject to the same continuous innovation process for the curriculum and whatever new innovations are happening in the business world should get reflected in what we include in the curriculum of the certificates.”
The environmental sustainability certificate joins two existing certificates within the MBA program, nonmarket strategies and consumer analytics and insights.
Though there is not currently much overlap between the certificates, Agrawal hopes to emphasize interconnectedness between the three options in the future to build a more comprehensive program.
“I think this year’s class can share certificates if they like without double conflicting courses, so there’s some coordination already happening,” Agrawal said. “I see a lot of scope for people to sort of play at the intersection of these certificates and in the future hopefully we’ll find ways to collaborate on it.”