The five-year strategic plan for Penn State's Smeal College of Business proposed the creation of a research center dedicated to the study of sustainable business practices as part of the strategic goal of enhancing the college’s dialogue with society. The center will promote the knowledge and insights that emerge from its activities to audiences at the local, national and international levels. The new Sustainability Council is the first step in setting up a full-fledged research center.
Our commitment to sustainability extends to both our MBA and undergraduate curricula and to activities of selected student organizations. Several faculty members are engaged in this effort, both to instruct business students on the importance and impact of sustainability, and to examine the sustainability-related issues in their own research. The other research centers at Smeal also have a variety of projects and studies centered on efforts related to sustainability. And, our community is constantly looking to connect with corporate partners through our advisory board to the Sustainability Council. Our goal is to encourage dialogue between educators, business executives, government officials, and sustainability advocates to explore this significant and globally important topic.
Dean Whiteman Approves Sustainability Strategic Plan for Smeal
Smeal's Sustainability Strategic Plan was developed by a task force that included wide representation from the Smeal College, including faculty, staff and students. The plan was completed and submitted to Dean Whiteman in November. He approved the plan in mid-December and authorized funds for its implementation. Gerald Susman has been designated as the "internal champion" to implement the plan.
Companies Contribute Funds to Support Development of Sustainability Teaching Tools
Seven companies that are represented on the Smeal Sustainability Advisory Board contributed $50,000 to support the development of teaching tools on business-related sustainability topics. These topics include the environmental, social, and economic impact of business decisions on a company, its employees, and the communities in which a company operates. Sustainability-related content is offered in an increasing number of undergraduate and graduate courses in the Smeal College. The teaching tools will focus on facilitating problem-based or experiential learning, in some instances by making creative use of videos and the Internet. Four projects are currently being supported. The first project headed by Min Ding, professor of marketing, focuses on product innovation and marketing. The second project headed by Raghu Garud, Clemens professor of management and organization, focuses on how the meaning of sustainability varies by industry and evolves over time in a company and influences the development of its sustainability strategy. A third project headed by Nancy McClure, instructor in accounting, focuses on use of the Internet to guide the development of business models by local entrepreneurs who wish to market solar cookers and solar panels in the Dominican Republic. The fourth project, headed by Judd Michael, professor of wood science, focuses on extended producer responsibility and incentives to encourage container manufacturers to design environmentally-friendly products that are recyclable.