Stanford GSB Expands Focus on Business and Sustainability

Bolstered by a partnership with Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, Stanford GSB increases support for resources catalyzing climate solutions.

May 31, 2023

| by Stanford GSB Staff
Bill Barnett and Chris Field (background) teaching an introductory course for sustainability to Stanford freshman. Credit: Elena Zhukova

Stanford GSB faculty will be instrumental as the school continues to increase its focus on sustainability — including those with long-standing commitments in their research and teaching. | Elena Zhukova

Stanford Graduate School of Business is increasing its commitment to sustainability, through new classes, pioneering faculty research, and impact-focused programs designed to address one of the most challenging issues facing the world today.

“Business has an incredibly important role to play as the world transitions to a low-carbon economy,” said Jonathan Levin, the Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean of Stanford Graduate School of Business. “And Stanford GSB is in a unique position to catalyze research and teaching on the challenges of environmental sustainability, and to accelerate solutions to those challenges.”

Today, for example, Stanford GSB and the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability are announcing the Stanford Ecopreneurship program, established through the Benioff Ecopreneur Fund. This program will accelerate a global climate and sustainability transition by enabling students to build public, private, and nonprofit-sector organizations that can take sustainability solutions to scale.

Initiatives for Climate Impact

The school has also sharpened its focus through the creation of the Stanford Initiative on Business and Environmental Sustainability (SIBES), a joint initiative between Stanford GSB and SDSS.

We know that real solutions will come through innovation, collaboration, and a deeply shared commitment.
William P. Barnett

“There is an incredible opportunity for the GSB to partner across Stanford University and with institutions around the world,” said William P. Barnett, faculty director for SIBES. Barnett is the Thomas M. Siebel Professor of Business Leadership, Strategy, and Organizations at Stanford GSB, a professor at SDSS, and a senior fellow at Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. “We know that real solutions will come through innovation, collaboration, and a deeply shared commitment.”

Over the past year, SIBES has successfully launched several new programs, including an ambitious faculty research conference series, a sustainability-focused visitors program, and several sustainability working groups around the world. The initiative has also spurred a more coordinated approach to teaching across the two schools, including more classes at the intersection of business and sustainability.

Educating for the Future

Stanford GSB has added a number of new courses that examine the financial, policy, and human behavioral aspects of sustainability efforts, including:

  • Climate Tech for Rapid Decarbonization

  • Climate Change, Economics, Technology

  • Public Policy for Climate Innovation

  • Energy Markets and Policy

The GSB’s Executive Education is launching Sustainability Strategies for professionals to help achieve sustainability goals in their organizations.

These curricular changes address not only the needs of a changing global economy but the growing interest of students. The E-IPER Joint Master of Science degree in Environment and Resources is one of the GSB’s most popular joint degrees, with 70 current MBA students. GSB students have numerous opportunities to channel their passion and energy into sustainability-related projects, including through classes, experiential learning, and fellowships.

Other opportunities include Stanford Climate Ventures, a project-based course through the Precourt Institute for Energy (now part of SDSS); the Center for Entrepreneurial StudiesStartup Garage; and the Center for Social Innovation’s Stanford Impact Founder Fellowship. The Stanford GSB Energy and Business & Environment clubs co-host the annual GSB Climate, Business & Innovation Summit, one of the largest student-led events at the school.

Supporting Research-Driven Solutions

Stanford GSB faculty will be instrumental as the school continues to increase its focus on sustainability — including those with long-standing commitments in their research and teaching.

For instance, Erica Plambeck, The Charles A. Holloway Professor of Operations, Information & Technology, has worked extensively on sustainable supply chains and environmental innovation and responsibility. Stefan Reichelstein, The William R. Timken Professor of Accounting, Emeritus, is a leading expert on measuring the cost-effectiveness of renewable energy, and more broadly on energy transition. Bård Harstad, professor of political economy, joined the GSB faculty this month. He focuses on environmental economics, including the economics of carbon emissions regulation and carbon markets.

The school also recently launched a new research fund to support faculty research at the intersection of business, government, and society. The first round of grants included funding for a dozen sustainability-focused projects on topics ranging from food waste and the energy efficiency of semiconductors to the impact of corporate social responsibility disclosures on customers.

“Stanford GSB has always been a place where bold ideas are born,” Dean Levin said. “We are inspired by the opportunity and responsibility to keep generating those bold ideas and solutions in the sustainability space.”

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