Bocconi Students for Sustainable Finance

Business schools urged to integrate ESG in their core curriculum 

Today more than ever, sustainability is at the center of preoccupations on the business agenda. Every firm is putting forward how it implements ESG principles, every manager is driving its team to make ethical decisions, and every shareholder is investing in sustainable fields. 

However, a crucial issue appears. Business school programs did not integrate those fundamental fields into the courses they offer or their curriculums. Erika Karp – founder of Cornerstone Capital- Dave Gallon – COO at MoceanLab– and Jenny McColloch – Chief sustainability officer at McDonald’s- explain why it is crucial to have business schools progress towards more sustainability. 

To begin, Karp recalls that managing innovation – an MBA course offered at Columbia University- used to frame-breaking change was extremely useful to her career in impact investing. Even if, at the time, schools did not implement sustainability and ESG principles into their core courses yet, in sustainability and impact-investing, she has been able to spot potentially frame-breaking change. What is essential to engage from this is that even if environmental sustainability and social entrepreneurship are starting to make their way into the curriculum, various courses are still solely electives.  Since the long-term goal of this procedure is to make capitalism more regenerative and inclusive, the challenge is to integrate courses such as CSR or biodiversity into core courses like management or finance and not as separate electives. 

On the other hand, we can study the example of UCLA’s curriculum. What makes it distinctive for Gallon is the interdisciplinary school approach. If he pursued environmental and social justice professionally, it is thanks to the curriculum. As a matter of fact, it was open to the exploration of, what were at the time, new topics. The COO has been introduced to sustainable profitability in his operations class, allowing him to understand how to build long-term returns by extracting environmental impacts into the implemented strategies. 

From his experience, he retained that no matter the core subject, whether, in finance, accounting, or strategy, it is imperative that professors engage with their students around the idea of ethics and CSR.  Furthermore, this interdisciplinary view is beneficial to constructing the attachment between core disciplines and ESG principles. In addition to being an asset for profitability, ESG and CSR reason beyond the educational setting, exceeding the usual theoretical approach business schools are criticized for. Ultimately, remark that his school did not prioritize prospective investment bankers – as wages boost rankings – over other field students. This mindset supports the understanding that businesses are multifaceted human organizations. It highlights that with sustainability, business schools’ contribution to society is not bounded anymore. 

Finally, if McColloch chose Yale University, it is because of its newly implemented philosophy of cross-disciplinary thinking, for example, the joint management and environment degree. As we underlined before, integrating such topics complementarily to core subjects is the best way to implement academic and theoretical material in the real world.  For instance, McColloch’s innovation course was highly relevant for her job at McDonald’s where she has been able to “implement innovation in a global network through the lens of sustainability”. 

Over the years, it is for a large part a student-led demand that has allowed the implementation of ethics and CSR in the curriculum. For the incoming years, the goal is to have a more in-depth school initiative to tackle the world’s incoming issues such as inequality or climate change. 

Nevertheless, what is crucial for schools to understand is that the upcoming generations are becoming more sensitive to ESG related issues.  If they do not integrate ESG principles in their core curriculum, they are putting their business model at risk as today’s technology makes learning, teamwork, and networking possible online. As Karp stated, “if schools’ thinking is outmoded, they will become irrelevant”.  

Sources:

Author: Samia Ismaili

RELATED

Business schools urged to integrate ESG in their core curriculum 

Today more than ever, sustainability is at the center of preoccupations on the business agenda. Every firm is putting forward how it implements ESG principles, every manager is driving its team to make ethical decisions, and every shareholder is investing in sustainable fields. 

However, a crucial issue appears. Business school programs did not integrate those fundamental fields into the courses they offer or their curriculums. Erika Karp – founder of Cornerstone Capital- Dave Gallon – COO at MoceanLab– and Jenny McColloch – Chief sustainability officer at McDonald’s- explain why it is crucial to have business schools progress towards more sustainability. 

 

To begin, Karp recalls that managing innovation – an MBA course offered at Columbia University- used to frame-breaking change was extremely useful to her career in impact investing. Even if, at the time, schools did not implement sustainability and ESG principles into their core courses yet, in sustainability and impact-investing, she has been able to spot potentially frame-breaking change. What is essential to engage from this is that even if environmental sustainability and social entrepreneurship are starting to make their way into the curriculum, various courses are still solely electives.  Since the long-term goal of this procedure is to make capitalism more regenerative and inclusive, the challenge is to integrate courses such as CSR or biodiversity into core courses like management or finance and not as separate electives. 

 

On the other hand, we can study the example of UCLA’s curriculum. What makes it distinctive for Gallon is the interdisciplinary school approach. If he pursued environmental and social justice professionally, it is thanks to the curriculum. As a matter of fact, it was open to the exploration of, what were at the time, new topics. The COO has been introduced to sustainable profitability in his operations class, allowing him to understand how to build long-term returns by extracting environmental impacts into the implemented strategies. 

From his experience, he retained that no matter the core subject, whether, in finance, accounting, or strategy, it is imperative that professors engage with their students around the idea of ethics and CSR.  Furthermore, this interdisciplinary view is beneficial to constructing the attachment between core disciplines and ESG principles. In addition to being an asset for profitability, ESG and CSR reason beyond the educational setting, exceeding the usual theoretical approach business schools are criticized for. Ultimately, remark that his school did not prioritize prospective investment bankers – as wages boost rankings – over other field students. This mindset supports the understanding that businesses are multifaceted human organizations. It highlights that with sustainability, business schools’ contribution to society is not bounded anymore. 

  

Finally, if McColloch chose Yale University, it is because of its newly implemented philosophy of cross-disciplinary thinking, for example, the joint management and environment degree. As we underlined before, integrating such topics complementarily to core subjects is the best way to implement academic and theoretical material in the real world.  For instance, McColloch’s innovation course was highly relevant for her job at McDonald’s where she has been able to “implement innovation in a global network through the lens of sustainability”. 

Over the years, it is for a large part a student-led demand that has allowed the implementation of ethics and CSR in the curriculum. For the incoming years, the goal is to have a more in-depth school initiative to tackle the world’s incoming issues such as inequality or climate change. 

 

Nevertheless, what is crucial for schools to understand is that the upcoming generations are becoming more sensitive to ESG related issues.  If they do not integrate ESG principles in their core curriculum, they are putting their business model at risk as today’s technology makes learning, teamwork, and networking possible online. As Karp stated, “if schools’ thinking is outmoded, they will become irrelevant”.  

Sources:

Author: Samia ismaili

RELATED

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