Sustainability

SustainabilityThe Darden MBA program teaches students about sustainability through case studies and experiential opportunities. Cases are real-time, showcasing entrepreneurs and ventures that are creating new products, processes, technologies, markets and organizational forms to deliver low-pollution electrical power, outdoor gear made from recycled materials, packaging polymers from plant-based materials, low CO2-emitting cement, and modular green buildings. Integrated throughout the curriculum is the theme that while business has one main bottom line — profitability — it must be achieved in an ethical, socially-minded, and environmentally-responsible manner.

The Innovation for Sustainability concentration (available in the Second Year) prepares students to design and implement sustainability strategies such that their future organizations not only expand their positive impact on society, but also realize revenue growth, cost savings and/or brand enhancement.

Learn more about Darden's sustainability vision.

Courses

Sustainability: Electives

Darden offers 17 elective courses that solely or partially focus on sustainability and ethical leadership/decision-making. Coursework includes tools essential for developing a successful sustainability strategy such as stakeholder engagement and systems thinking. Specific courses are below, with hyperlinks to descriptions. These courses also count toward the Innovation for Sustainability concentration.

Three of Darden's Global Business Experiences (one- or two-week academic trips to other countries that include classroom work as well as local company/NGO/government agency visits) are sustainability-themed:

Several of Darden's Global Field Experiences also give students the opportunity to tackle  environmental and social problems. Learn more by reading the following article: "How MBA Students Are Getting ‘Out There’ with Global Experiential Learning."

In the following video, Darden faculty discuss the importance of sustainability and ethics in business and how they incorporate these topics throughout Darden's general management curriculum.

 

 

For-Credit Projects in Sustainability

Students conducting research electives and Darden Business Projects frequently choose sustainability topics, such as developing markets for recycled products, biofuels, microfinance, renewable energy, carbon trading and local food systems. Many projects have been Darden-focused, helping the school achieve its goal of being a zero waste, carbon neutral enterprise. To date, Darden students' projects on energy efficiency and waste reduction strategies have helped us reduce our carbon footprint by 20% and waste to landfill by 59% relative to our 2007 baseline, even as our programs expand. Project examples include: 

  • Zero Waste, Carbon Neutral at Darden: Recommendations for Sustainable Operations
    This project summarized Darden’s carbon footprint and waste, providing short-term and long-term recommendations for becoming a zero waste, zero carbon enterprise. 
  • Making the Case for Composting at Darden
    This project evaluated the costs and benefits of three different technologies/processes for composting Darden’s organic waste. 
  • Community Food Systems Project
    In collaboration with UVA Architecture School’s Department of Urban and Environmental Planning, this study delved into local food entrepreneurship opportunities that help achieve economic development, sustainability, and health and supply chain security goals.

Concentration

Darden faculty created the following concentration to help Second Year students develop a course plan:

Innovation for Sustainability

The Innovation for Sustainability concentration includes both courses and a required capstone project. The objectives of the Sustainability concentration are to:

  1. Equip students with the ability to create and execute collaborative sustainability strategies to: increase firm revenues through innovative products and services; lower costs and raise profitability through efficiencies and design; create and enhance brands; better manage supply chains; and mitigate business risk.
  2. Instill knowledge about the global and systemic impacts on natural systems and human well-being from accelerating trends such as urbanization, industrialization, climate change and population growth, as well as emerging scientific knowledge.
  3. Inform students of regional and global institutions and policy instruments that influence business operations and strategy.

Clubs & Events

  • Net Impact at Darden - Net Impact is dedicated to using the power of business to positively impact social, environmental and economic concerns across the world.
  • Darden Nonprofit Internship Fund (DNIF) - DNIF is a student-funded program that helps First Year students defray summer living expenses while pursuing low-paying internships in the nonprofit and social sectors.

View the full list of Darden student organizations.

Careers

In the following video, students and faculty discuss Darden's approach to teaching sustainability, as well as experiences in mission-driven MBA internships and career opportunities:

 

For more information, visit the Mission-Driven Careers page.

Faculty & Research

Faculty

The following faculty teach and/or conduct research on sustainability:

Professors Tim Kraft and Gal Raz are looking at supply chain impacts of bisphenol-A (BPA), an endocrine disrupter. Professor Peter Debaere studies the global conomics of water. Professor Michael Lenox conducts greentech innovation research and also leads a 15-university consortium housed at Darden, The Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability. Professor Ed Freeman, pioneer in the area of stakeholder management, is Academic Director of Darden's Institute for Business in Society.

Research Centers

Darden’s curriculum development is strengthened by five major research entities housed at Darden that conduct sustainability and ethics research:

  1. The Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability (ARCS)
  2. The Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation  
  3. The Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics  
  4. The Institute for Business in Society (IBiS)
  5. The Olsson Center for Applied Ethics

Contacts

Still have questions? Feel free to contact the following current student and alumni to ask specific questions about sustainability at Darden or in their careers. For additional contacts, please visit the Darden Student and Alumni Ambassadors list.

Julia-AbellJulia James (MBA' 12)

Undergraduate education: Harvard University
Undergraduate major: Environmental Science and Public Policy
Company: Deloitte
Role: Senior Consultant, Commercial Strategy & Operations

"The case method  style of learning and participating in the Net Impact case competition have been good preparation for working in consulting. In addition, my
experiences in learning team and the classroom have made me more comfortable contributing in a team environment."

Patty Foglesong (MBA '09)Patty Foglesong (MBA '09) 

Undergraduate education: University of Notre Dame (MS from UNC-Chapel Hill)
Undergraduate major: Geological Sciences (MS in Geological Sciences)
Company: National Park Service
Role: Business Management Specialist, Intermountain Region
Current location: Denver, CO

"Darden gave me the skills and the confidence to begin making a valuable contribution to my organization on day one. As the only MBA on my team, I have unique expertise to share. As the newest person on my team, I have much to learn about the culture and history of my organization. Darden taught me to ask good and relevant questions as well as to explain new concepts to facilitate learning and collaboration within my team."   

Will Teichman (MBA '09)Will Teichman (MBA '09) 

Undergraduate education: Washington and Lee University
Undergraduate major: Economics and Politics, Certificate in Environmental Studies
Company: Kimco Realty Corporation
Role: Director of Sustainability
Current location: Charlotte, NC

"Darden gave me a broader understanding of the elements that make a business sustainable over the long-term. I discovered that sustainability isn't just about checking the boxes on a handful of environmental or social initiatives — it's about making decisions today that will ensure that the business will be around for its customers, employees, and shareholders for years to come. The Darden experience — rigorous case prep, spirited classroom discussions, a tight-knit student population, and world class faculty — gave me a bias toward action that I rely upon every day in my work."  

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