MSU Awarded Sustainability Specialization Grant
Michigan State University was recently awarded a $628,415 grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education to support a sustainability specialization for six majors at the university. Students from the Broad College, as well as Agriculture and Natural Resources, Arts and Letters, James Madison, Natural Science and Social Science, will be able to participate in the specialization, though students from any major can take the introductory course, ACR 187 Introduction to Sustainability. Sustainability is becoming increasingly relevant for students of all majors, particularly those in the Broad College.
"Sustainability is an increasingly important dimension for Broad School students as consumers are increasingly looking for businesses that demonstrate sustainable business practices," says David Closs, John H. McConnell Chair in Business Administration and Professor of Supply Chain Management. "While this certainly includes environmental and ethical practices, it also incorporates economic and talent considerations. To achieve long term global sustainability, business executives must learn to balance global environmental, ethical, human and economic considerations."
Geoffrey Habron, the program’s co-director, said that sustainability is something that can relate to the Broad School and any major, and the program hopes to have the support of more colleges as time goes on. Last year, he taught the introduction course and said he had students from 30 different majors, all who benefitted from the course.
"It relates to all majors and to each one of us regardless of our professional choices, because it affects our personal lives and choices," he says. "Issues of sustainability cover the basics: food, clothing and shelter. How do we feed, clothe and provide shelter in ways that foster ecological integrity, social equity and justice and economic vitality and prosperity that ensures meeting the needs of the present without sacrificing future generations’ abilities to meet their needs?"
This new program comes at a time when the International Business Center (MSU-CIBER) is putting more effort into highlighting the importance of enterprise sustainability among its clientele, students and faculty.
MSU-CIBER is introducing more sustainability programs into its agenda; one of the planned events for this semester is a luncheon seminar on “Sustainability as a Megatrend in International Trade,” which will be presented during the monthly Global Business Club meeting by Dr. Richard Chapas. Dr. Chapas is a sustainability and green business consultant, board member for the Center for Sustainable Enterprise at the Kenan-Flagler Business School, sustainability and green business professor at University of Delaware’s Lerner Business School and an executive committee member of the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development.
Earlier in the year, MSU-CIBER co-sponsored a lecture series by Bjorn Stigson, president of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Dr. Stigson talked about the broader context of sustainability and the implications for business of recent developments, particularly on climate change. He also talked about what businesses require from governments in order to effectively address climate and competitive concerns.
The sustainability specialization will develop student knowledge across disciplines and emphasize the interrelationships within systems. The specialization will focus on eight “competency areas”: ecological integrity, social equity, economic vitality, aesthetic understanding, civic engagement, critical thinking, systems thinking and personal development/awareness, showing that sustainability goes beyond just being eco-friendly.