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Education

Smeal’s commitment to sustainability is evident in both our undergraduate and MBA curriculums. Here are some courses and projects that incorporate sustainability-related content:

Undergraduate

ACCTG 440 Advanced Management Accounting

ACCTG 440 is a course on advanced management accounting and intended for students in the Masters of Accounting Program. One segment of the course focuses on "full-cost accounting" to explore why and how accounting techniques can be modified to reflect the full impact of business decisions including their environmental costs and benefits. Sajay Samuel, clinical professor of accounting, spends a week discussing the emerging procedures to account for such externalities and presents a number of short cases from the real world (BMW, Interface Inc, GE) for analysis and reflection.

BA 342 Socially Responsible, Sustainable and Ethical Business Practice

These three attributes of business practice require key competencies for aspiring leaders. The course starts with the personal, organizational, national and global dynamics in ethical decision-making and is followed by a "stakeholder" model for both domestic and international social responsibility. The last third of the class focuses on sustainability -- the social, environmental and economic elements that comprise the true bottom line for a corporation (meeting today's needs without sacrificing the ability of those in the future to meet theirs). BA 342 is taught by Smeal College of Business instructor Ron Johnson, in coordination with Linda Trevino, professor of organizational behavior and ethics.

BA 441 Strategies for Enterprise Sustainability

Enterprise globalization warrants a greater level of awareness and responsibility in seeing that products and services maintain a high level of integrity, quality, and reliability; products need to be produced and moved throughout the supply chain in a manner that does not cause unacceptable environmental or social burdens, but that also allows for acceptable profits. We will examine both external and internal forces, such as environmental groups, policy-makers, and consumers that impact business strategies. This will be put into the context of the “triple bottom line” with an understanding of its challenges and opportunities. Business students will benefit by a better understanding of environmental/sustainability issues that impact operations and strategies. Students will learn via analyses of cases studies and by working in teams to solve real-world problems faced by chosen organizations. Focus will include all key aspects of an enterprise, from procurement to product development, and from human resources to supply chain solutions.

BA 442 Sustainability Behavior of Consumers, Firms, and Societies

Sustainability is a broad domain concerning the extent to which environmental, economic, and social practices are viable for current and future generations. Consumer awareness of sustainability issues has evolved from an emerging social movement to mainstream values, but increasing sustainable behavior remains a challenge. This course is designed to provide students with the knowledge to enhance sustainable behaviors in firms, among consumers, and in society at large. In doing so, this course will include frameworks for understanding how to influence sustainable practices, consumer response to sustainability, and marketing communication issues as well as real-world examples of sustainable practices and issues, offering both a theoretical and applied approach. The course may also include a project which will entail student teams working on a real-world sustainable behavior problem in collaboration with a business or segment of the university campus when available or other course project addressing a relevant sustainability issue. Students should leave the course with an understanding of sustainability issues in the current marketplace and the knowledge and ability to influence sustainable behaviors. Students will enter their career with the knowledge and skills to be a sustainable business decision-maker and foster sustainable behavior.

IB 404 Contemporary Issues in International Business

IB 404 enables students to study the most current topics in international and global business that form the framework for understanding business decisions. The course uses an interdisciplinary approach to explore broad changes in the international environment at the economic, political, cultural, environmental, and social levels by focusing on several themes that represent the complexity of global issues that affect business. Terrence Guay, clinical associate professor of international business, focuses some topics around energy, waste disposal, resource extraction, and corporate social responsibility.

IB 497A Sustainability and International Business (Fall 2014)

Sustainability in international business is more than simply adopting sustainable practices--it has the potential to help companies gain competitive advantage. This course examines the global business environment in the context of sustainability and explores the challenges and opportunities related to sustainability. It focuses on sustainable development in relation to global corporations, the effect of sustainability on global corporate development strategies, and how corporations interact with nations to develop partnerships that support sustainable economic development.  Topics covered in this course include corporate social responsibility, sustainable strategies, risk management, government policies, stakeholder expectations, and opportunities for multinationals in the age of climate change.

IB 497C Sustainability and International Business (Spring 2015)

Sustainability in international business is more than simply adopting sustainable practices--it has the potential to help companies gain competitive advantage. This course examines the global business environment in the context of sustainability and explores the challenges and opportunities related to sustainability. It focuses on sustainable development in relation to global corporations, the effect of sustainability on global corporate development strategies, and how corporations interact with nations to develop partnerships that support sustainable economic development.  Topics covered in this course include corporate social responsibility, sustainable strategies, risk management, government policies, stakeholder expectations, and opportunities for multinationals in the age of climate change.

MKTG 497G Sustainability for Consumers, Firms, and Societies

The course is designed to help students approach sustainability as business opportunities for innovations, which can be used in both defensive (protect existing business) and offensive (develop new business) strategies. Students will be asked to identify sustainability-related needs, measure willingness to pay for a few selected needs, select a most promising need, and then come up with a new product and/or service concept that will address it. This course is taught by Min Ding, professor of marketing.

MBA

BA 597 Sustainability Business Strategies

BA 597 is taught by Dr. Judd Michael, professor of wood products in the College of Agricultural Sciences. This course includes readings, cases, and speakers on sustainability issues in business.  Students focus on products/services that have waste components. A group project on managerial decision-making and environmental issues on how bias can influence environmental/sustainability decisions is made.

ENTR 597E Social Entrepreneurship and Social Value Creation

This course focuses on social entrepreneurship -- the use of innovative, market-oriented approaches to addressing the world's most challenging social and environmental problems. We will examine a range of start-ups intended to create social value while at the same time being economically sustainable and/or profitable. We will also consider how managers start grassroots initiatives inside larger corporations, similarly focused on creating social value in an economically sustainable manner. Students also leave the course with a set of tools intended to increase success in starting a social enterprise of any type. The course is taught by Forrest Briscoe, Associate Professor of Management.

PhD

SC&IS 597 Sustainable Operations

This doctoral course will explore recent research and developments in sustainability from a business perspective.  Various elements that are needed to develop a sustainable organization will be explored, including closed-loop supply chains (product repair remanufacturing and recycling), environmental regulation (including recent EU directives on electronics waste, reduction of hazardous substances, tires, etc.), industrial ecology (basic tools including life-cycle assessment), voluntary environmental labeling (e.g., LEED, EPEAT), extended producer responsibility, servicizing, designing products for recovery, and developing a sustainability strategy.

 

Applied Professional Experience Program (APEX)

APEX is an experiential learning experience which serves as the capstone for Smeal's internationally ranked MBA Program. In APEX, teams of four or five MBA students work with a client to take on a real world business challenge. All of the teams explore the sustainability issues related to their specific projects; and many of the projects have been centered on sustainability-related topics such as the use of environmentally sustainable packaging, implementation of sustainability initiatives across an organization, and the business case for sourcing renewable energy.

Penn State Net Impact Chapter

Penn State Net Impact (PSNI) strives to educate students about the business case for corporate social responsibility and sustainable growth in order to understand, balance, and capitalize on the complex relationship between business success and social and environmental progress. Students in the organization recently developed a scorecard to assess bathroom tissue purchases for biodegradability and social responsibility working in conjunction with the Penn State Office of Physical Plan and Procurement.