University of Vermont starts MBA in Sustainable Entrepreneurship


In an effort to fundamentally reinvent business education and the MBA degree the University of Vermont has started an MBA in ‘Sustainable Entrepreneurship’. It hopes to address issues related to the environment, ethics, entrepreneurship, poverty and inequality. It has started a 45- hour credit program on sustainable business and entrepreneurshipfocused curriculum. Stuart L. Hart, a leading authority on the implications of environment and poverty for business strategy, has inspired this course following his experience of running the Emergent Institute in Bangalore for entrepreneurs who are working on clean technologies.

The program offers an accelerated one year program designed to get students back out there, inventing or reinventing their bottom of the pyramid (BoP) enterprise as soon as possible.

Students will enjoy access to business and entrepreneurs around the world through the BoP Global Network which includes Enterprise for a Sustainable World, India’s Emergent Institute, and the BoP Global Network – a vibrant community of academics and practitioners in 18 countries that engage in knowledge creation and dissemination about the theory and practice of creating sustainable businesses at the base of the economic pyramid.

The students also get to do meaningful, high-impact work with international partners that have on-the-ground access in emerging markets and the developing world.

Why an MBA in sustainability?

The leaders in reforming the MBA education believe the world today needs revolutionary new business models, not just adjustment around the edges. Prof. Hart says: “We need a focus on the skills required to imagine, co-create, launch and scale game-changing new ventures that simultaneously lift the poor and leapfrog to new environmentally sustainable ways of living.”

Prof Hart is at the forefront of this global movement. He has been involved in creating three such centers over the past 25 years–at the University of Michigan’s Ross School and School of Natural Resources & Environment (The Erb Institute), at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School (Center for Sustainable Enterprise), and at Cornell University’s Johnson School (Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise).

He bases his conviction on the fact that over the past 25 years, most major business school in the world have added some kind of initiative, center, or institute focused on sustainability, corporate citizenship, or social entrepreneurship. “The problem is that virtually all of these initiatives, centers, or institutes continue to merely hang off the side of the existing business school edifice. Like the proverbial “saddle bag” on a horse, the issues are contained within separate compartments that are readily visible from the outside, but have little impact on the behavior of the animal itself.” In India, BIMTECH in Noida is experimenting with teaching sustainability. But no one is yet to take the leap to offer a full MBA in sustainability.

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