How to Prepare Yourself to Make a Difference in the World with a Green MBA

Are you wondering how you can make a difference in the world? The green MBA, also known as a Sustainable MBA, is worthy of your consideration. Green MBA programs combine leadership with principles of environmental sustainability. With a growing population, rapid climate change, and limited resources, the world needs innovative, caring leaders who manage companies in an environmentally responsible way.

Quality green MBA programs offer challenging, transformational, and cutting edge knowledge that will help students create and lead sustainable organizations. Candida Brush, a professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College, stated, “You have to use entrepreneurial thinking to solve problems without taking away from the environment.”

Green MBA programs cover topics such as environmental regulations, marketing green products, waste management, and how environmental actions affect profit. The term “sustainability,” when used in the context of green MBA programs, means economic, environmental, and social sustainability. Sustainable MBAs also cover the major topics of a standard MBA program.

Some MBA programs don’t teach students these topics because some schools believe a company’s only responsibility is to make profits for shareholders. Thus, companies don’t have any obligation to be concerned about environmental sustainability, except for situations in which it increases profits. These schools believe an emphasis on sustainability takes too much time away from the vital core topics of an MBA. Check out this article about why these traditional MBA programs are missing something.

Students interested in getting a green MBA must find the right school. Entrepreneur magazine, in partnership with The Princeton Review, produced a list of the top 16 schools for green MBAs. The list is based on a survey of administrators and students at 325 business graduate schools. The research was performed during the 2009-2010 school year. Here’s an extensive list of green MBA programs in the United States, listed by state, and here’s a collection of some programs offered online.

Matt Cheney, chief executive for Renewables Ventures, believes green MBA programs meet a growing demand. He said, “More and more students are interested in socially responsible business. They want to make a difference and there is a confidence that business can produce results quickly and significantly.”

Most green MBA students are eager to learn about environmental issues and how to sustain and improve the environment. Let’s take a look at how green MBA students should prepare themselves to make a difference:

1. Learn about ecopsychology. According to Marcella Danon, author of the book Ecopsicologia, ecopsychology is a discipline that promotes growth in order to open a path toward a higher awareness and allow people to first become self realized persons and then free, creative, and responsible citizens of the planet. There’s more to a green MBA program than studying.

2. Emphasize your personal development as a leader. Personal development is a vital part of a quality sustainable MBA program because students who recognize their own forces as well as their strengths and weaknesses are more inclined to succeed. Some people believe social change flows from personal growth.

3. Hang out with like minded people. When Gabriel Kauper, an MBA student at George Washington University (GWU), took his first course in sustainability, he stated, “It was like I found my tribe – other students and professionals who share my values.” Hang out with students who’s primary objective is helping the environment and not obtaining a high paying job.

4. Get an Internship Nancy Roberts, in the “bloom” of her middle age, quit working in arts marketing and enrolled in a green MBA program. She graduated in 2008. She stated, “The experience was exciting, stimulating and life changing.” While enrolled in the program, one of her school projects helped a small business save money while protecting environmental integrity. She said in, “I discovered that nurturing positive change in organizations brings immense personal satisfaction.”

5. Start an eco-friendly business. Combine profit with personal satisfaction. Jen Boulden utilized her MBA in Environmental Management from GWU to co-found Ideal Bite, a free e-mail newsletter providing eco-friendly tips on how to make a difference in the world. By 2008 she had about 500,000 subscribers and sold the company to Disney for 20 million dollars. She thinks her degree helped convince the investors she’s an expert in the green business field.

6. Learn the triple bottom line. Pay attention to the triple bottom line – people, profits, and the planet. Learn how companies create eco-friendly policies and products and still make a decent profit.

7. What to look for in a curriculum. Look for a program that covers subjects including environmental regulations, marketing green products, waste management, corporate sustainability, green branding, environmental law, and public policy. The program should also review social responsibility, ecological economics, sustainability consulting, and how environmental actions affect profit.

8. Ask yourself, “Is a green MBA the best choice for me?” Are you prepared to do the work required to affect change in an environmentally challenged world? Do you really want to put in the time and effort required to make a positive impact for humanity and the planet? Are you excited about helping a company change for the better and make a profit? Are you ready for some personal growth?

Stand out from the crowd. College students across the country are hoping to obtain one of the millions of green jobs expected to be created in the near future. For many positions a green MBA will give you a competitive edge on the competition.

A green MBA teaches you to conduct business in a way that keeps the planet in good shape for future generations. Personal growth is a vital part of a Green MBA program. You will likely be a different person when you graduate.

[Image credit: Khya, Flickr]

Brian Jenkins writes about careers in business management, as well as other careers in the business field, for

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One response

  1. Watching the documentary “Inside Job” really stressed for me how the current business/economics education system is such a huge part of the problem that got us into the mess we are in today. We need to educate a new generation of leaders if we are going to move beyond “business as usual.” It’s great to see Green MBA and sustainability education getting more promotion!

    I recently started a Masters program in Environmental Sustainability and my girlfriend is starting her MBA this fall. We both found it difficult to find good resources to find and compare all the programs available. In response to this need we are starting a site, Sustainability Schools. We will be relaunching the site this summer with information on over 200 sustainability programs, Green MBAs, and environmental sciences programs. I hope people will find this useful and welcome suggestion!

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