2023 Undergraduate Sustainable Case Competition

Smeal Organizes Third Annual Undergraduate Sustainable Case Competition with our Partnering school Morgan State University

The competition is organized by the Smeal Center for the Business of Sustainability, Smeal Diversity Enhancement Programs, and Morgan State University. 

The competition is a hands-on opportunity to work on a cross-disciplinary team and to use business and markets to solve real-world social justice and environmental conservation challenges. Student teams who make it to the finals will have the opportunity to network with a unique community of peers and professionals, learn about graduate programs to further their education, and interact with some of today’s leading sustainability and social impact leaders. Registration for this event is now closed.


  • 1st place: $3,000 
  • 2nd place: $2,000 
  • 3rd place: $1,000 

What is the Focus of the Case Competition? 

This year’s case will focus on food insecurity and student teams will tackle this issue in their local community. Food security is especially widespread following the COVID pandemic and businesses can play a role in reversing this worrisome trend. According to Feeding America, food insecurity affects over 34 million people in the United States, of which 9 million are children. Food insecurity is found in rural and urban communities, among the very young and very old, and even on college campuses. Swipe Out Hunger claims 1 in 3 college students is food insecure. Despite being widespread, it is not evenly distributed, and higher levels of food insecurity and hunger are found in African American, Latino, and  Native American communities due to systemic racial injustice that has led to reduced access to consistent, quality nutrition among other barriers.

We believe that business can and will play a role in addressing food insecurity. The full case and specific details will be released on February 6.  

Who Can Participate? 

The competition is open to Penn State students from any Penn State campus as well as students from invited institutions. To take part, students will put together teams of four but no more than 5 members, two of whom are required to be business majors.   

How to Register? 

To register, one student from a team will enter the registration site to enter a team name and register each team member. Be sure to have this information BEFORE starting registration. After registering, each team member will have access to the platform and be able to upload materials. Registration for this event is now closed.

What are the competition rules?

All submitted and presented work must be the work of the student team. The team is strongly encouraged to seek out the appropriate subject matter experts that can help the team understand the issues, challenges, and potential solutions related to the case. Students may work with a faculty advisor or mentor who can provide guidance and feedback on the team’s research, analysis, and presentation. However, in the end, all submitted and presented work must be the work of the student team.

Team submissions 

Submission requirements

  • Each team must submit a video not to exceed 15 minutes in length. In the video, the team will present their analysis and recommendations. Each team member must participate in the presentation.
  • The review process is anonymous. DO NOT include any team member names or photos on any PowerPoints; also, DO NOT include the name, logo, or any identifying information of your institution, college, or campus.
  • There is no required minimum or maximum number of slides; it is up to your team to determine the appropriate number of slides for a 15-minute presentation.
  • Teams must be sure to document ALL sources of information to avoid plagiarism. The list of sources does not need to be part of the presentation, but it should be submitted with accompanying files. 
  • Teams will be scored based on their video presentation and accompanying files (i.e. PowerPoint or similar presentation platforms).

How to Submit

  • To submit the video of your team’s presentation, upload it to a video-sharing platform such as YouTube or Vimeo and submit a link to the video.
  • You will submit this link using the same site where you registered your team, using the same credentials provided when registering.
  • You will be submitting a PPT and PDF version of your presentation. Use your team’s name as the filename of your submitted presentation. For example, if our team is The Squirrels, we would name our PowerPoint version “thesquirrels.ppt” and our PDF version “thesquirrels.pdf”.

Submission deadline

  • Videos of team presentations and the PPT and PDF versions of accompanying slides/Powerpoints will be due no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Friday, March 3, 2023.
  • Any submissions received after this time will not be considered for judging.

Key Dates 

  • January 27: Registration Opens - at 8:00 am EST
  • February 3: Registration Closes - 5:00 pm EST
  • February 6: Case Released - 8:00 pm EST
  • February 21: Power Hour: Expert Panel Q&A - 9:00 am EST
  • March 3: Initial Submission Due - 11:59 pm EST
  • March 15: Finalist Announced - 5:00 pm EST
  • March 30: Final Submission Due - 11:59 pm EST
  • March 31: Finals (Finalists Present In-person at Penn State Main) - 121 Business Building


Please forward all questions to:  smealsustainability@psu.edu.