Report: Enthusiasm About Sustainability Rising in MBA Programs

Posted by: Geoff Gloeckler on August 19, 2009

by Anne VanderMey

NetImpact, champion of socially conscious business schoolers, has released its fourth annual guide of MBA programs today. Called Business as Unusual: The Student Guide to Graduate Business Programs, the report uses survey data from nearly 2,500 students to catalogue the social and environmental chops of 87 accredited business programs.

The 2009 edition is NetImpact’s largest so far, and it’s likely to carry more weight this year than ever, as many schools seek to strengthen their ethics credentials and deflect some of the blame over the financial crisis. Meant as an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional B-school rankings, the guide catalogues students’ perspective about how social and environmental themes play into in schools’ curriculum, the career search, and student life.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the year’s ethics-related tumult, many students found their schools wanting, despite generally positive responses. A limited sample size means that some of the data points on individual schools aren’t scientific, but it’s still interesting to note that at New York University’s Stern School of Business and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, flatly 0% of the nearly 20 students surveyed thought either the students or faculty were enthusiastic about social and environmental themes in the curriculum. At Chicago, 0% of students thought they found a job that completely “utilized their values.” And at the Wharton School, while 37% of the 29 students surveyed found jobs that utilized their values, just 4% thought the average Wharton graduate was prepared for socially responsible leadership.

It was a somewhat rosier story at Yale, where 64% of 48 students surveyed thought their classmates were enthusiastic about sustainability themes in the classroom, and 90% though students were enthusiastic about those themes in their extra-curricular activities. The University of Geneva and California’s Presidio School of Management took the cake though, with 100% NetImpact membership and upwards of 90% in student enthusiasm.

Overall, the guide is full of mostly good news about sustainability at B-schools, with more than half of students concluding that their program produced responsible leaders. It’s also encouraging that 60% of graduates reported looking for a job that engaged their business skills as well their values—even if only 24% found one.

Reader Comments

Mehdi Majidi

September 7, 2009 4:32 AM

Mehdi: I thought this would be a great link for you to forward to the MA students-- will show them how forwrd thinking your MA Program is--- Daphne

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