Stanford GSB Named Social, Environmental Leader

Content originally published in the February 2004 issue of Stanford Business magazine.

Stanford Business School was named a school on “the cutting edge” in a biannual survey conducted jointly by the Aspen Institute and the World Resources Institute (WRI). The study — “Beyond Grey Pinstripes 2003: Preparing MBAs for Social and Environmental Stewardship” — defined cutting-edge schools as those that set the bar for the infusion of environmental and social impact management into their MBA coursework, extracurricular activities, institutional setting, and research agenda.

“In today’s business climate, taking a leadership role on complex global issues reflects a commitment to expand the limits of current research and teaching,” said Meghan Chapple, business education manager at WRI. “Stanford is one of only six schools that have reached a new frontier of innovation on social and environmental issues in business. This institution is forging a path for tomorrow’s business education that will account for the relationship between business, society, and the environment.”

Building on its 32-year-old Public Management Program, Stanford trains MBA students to translate their business acumen to the public or nonprofit sector. All students, for example, are required to take courses like Production and Operations Management, Strategy in the Business Environment, and Managerial Economics, which address various social and environmental problems around the world, including corporate transparency, and give students analytical tools to reduce social and environmental impacts. Many innovative electives cover ethics, corporate social responsibility, environmental sustainability, international development, social and environmental entrepreneurship, and public and nonprofit management.

The school’s Center for Social Innovation provides support to sustain research, course development, and activities around corporate responsibility and social sector issues.

This center and various student groups organized an impressive array of extracurricular events during the year assessed by the survey. Topics discussed range from the role of business in alleviating global poverty to trends and strategies in venture philanthropy to how to start an environmentally sustainable business.

Through the Stanford Management Internship Fund and the Loan Forgiveness Program, Stanford offers financial support for students working in the nonprofit or public sector.

Faculty in diverse departments, from organizational behavior to accounting, are publishing research that explores social impact and environmental management topics.

“As these activities and courses attest, at Stanford, students, faculty, administrators, and alumni are engaged in a critical examination of the role business plays in the world,” said Nancy McGaw, deputy director of the Business and Society Program at the Aspen Institute. “They are taking action to ensure that their MBA students get the grounding they need in social and environmental issues to meet the tough challenges they will face in business.”

Schools recognized in Beyond Grey Pinstripes 2003 as schools with cutting-edge MBA programs are (in alphabetical order):

  • George Washington University, School of Business and Public Management
  • University of Michigan Business School
  • University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business
  • Yale School of Management
  • York University, Schulich School of Business, Toronto, Canada