2017 SCC Conference

Working Lunch Interest Group Summary

“Sustainability as Business”

The session on “Sustainability as Business” was moderated by Peter Soyka and involved about a dozen participants.  Following a round of self-introductions, Peter started the discussion by positing that sustainability is being embraced by a growing number of companies, and is being increasingly demanded by investors and other influential stakeholders.  He added that given its relative size, the private sector will almost certainly employ most new graduates trained in sustainability (and other fields), so the question is, are these future business leaders receiving the sustainability education that they need?  Session participants shared a number of perspectives on some of the challenges they have encountered in teaching sustainability, as well as some approaches and tactics they have used to good effect.  Challenges included linking sustainability issues to business results; securing support for truly inter-disciplinary teaching approaches on campus; and cultivating the managerial and political skills needed to navigate and succeed in a large organization.  Interesting approaches included requiring students to complete a capstone project working with a local business that finds substantial monetary savings through one or more sustainability initiatives; grounding discussions of corporate sustainability in a recognition of the importance of revenue growth, cost control/profitability, and risk management; and securing active participation by a college’s senior leadership in overcoming institutional barriers to sustainability integration.