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At LeBow, A New Focus on Sustainability

sustainability business course

March 13, 2013

LeBow College of Business is preparing its students to excel in the eco-conscious business world, with new courses focused on sustainability.

“Sustainability is a great topic for almost every LeBow course because it encompasses everything such as financials, economics, marketing, management, management information systems, operations, etc.,” said Nicole Koedyker, a senior majoring in business administration.

Drexel is certainly not new to the concept of sustainability. The University placed ninth on EDC Magazine’s list of the top 20 higher education institutions using green power. And Westphal College of Media Arts & Design recently introduced the new minor, Sustainability in the Built Environment. LeBow intends to follow suit with the introduction of a new course this spring.

LeBow currently offers an environmental and resource economics course, which covers sustainable practices in oil and gas production. In an effort to expand their sustainability courses, LeBow will offer Sustainability: Business and the Global Environment this spring. The course, created by Dr. Suresh Chandran, an assistant clinical professor at LeBow, will introduce students to sustainability within business practices. The curriculum aims to provide different ways to approach sustainability while preparing students to take leadership roles in addressing sustainable issues within business.

“There is an assumption that if companies become more sustainability-oriented, it will affect their competitiveness,” said Chandran. “This assumption of competitive disadvantage leads to the notion that sustainability is about corporate social responsibility, and therefore not directly linked to business objectives or business strategy.”

With the new course Chandran said she believes students will walk away with the strategic tools necessary to guide a company’s overall approach to sustainability, an advantage needed for navigating a competitive job market.

The need for sustainability goes well beyond just helping the environment—it can even positively affect a business’s profits, Dr. Chandran said. “Additional revenue increases income from creating better products and new lines of business. Since sustainability initiatives are about process improvements and reducing inputs, profits are also increased from efficiency gains.”

Max Zahniser, an adjunct professor of architecture in the Westphal College, is also designing a new sustainability-related course, with the help of Koedyker. Zahniser’s course will allow students to consult with non-profit organizations, to help them obtain a sustainable business certification from B Lab, a non-profit organization dedicated to using businesses to solve environmental problems.  The certification from B Lab makes sure that businesses meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

“We're putting our own future at risk and we have the chance to change the route business is taking, said Koedyker. “Environmental and social responsibility is the future of business.”

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