Prospective Green MBA Students Eager for Change

Judging from comments at recent information sessions, Antioch New England’s innovative MBA in Organizational and Environmental Sustainability (aka Green MBA) will begin in Summer 2007 with students who have been eagerly awaiting it. After years of looking for the right MBA program, Sasha Johnson, braved torrential downpours on the drive from Portland, Maine. “And when I arrived, I heard language being used that was exactly the same language I had been using to describe what I was looking for in a graduate program,” she said.

A native of Westchester County, New York, Johnson’s peers have entered professions and graduate programs in which “the bottom line is strictly fiscal,” she says. “If I were interested in a career in finance or within a corporation, another program might make sense. I think their bottom line is about dollars, to the exclusion of community and mission. What sets Antioch apart for me, is that it addresses a bottom line that includes human relationships and environmental relationships, without sacrificing those to make a profit.”

Many of the prospective students embody a recent statement by Nobel Prize winner, Muhammed Yunus: “I believe there is no better way to combine your desire for a better world with effectiveness than through a company.” Chad Vickers agrees. As a scientist for a major pharmaceutical corporation, he sees the Green MBA as a harbinger of the future. “I think business people are seeing that quality, personnel development, and the environment are all intertwined. Changes are occurring, and eventually we’ll see more large companies pursuing this sort of approach.”

Before hearing about the Green MBA, Vickers’ scientific interests had him leaning toward changing careers and entering a program in environmental science. “When I heard that the Antioch program brings the expertise of its natural and environmental science faculty directly into its MBA curriculum, I knew it would supply the best of both worlds.”

The Green MBA, with a curriculum that integrates science of natural systems with social and financial systems, resonated with other prospective students, as well. It expands the Department of Organization & Management’s “multiple bottom line,” in which success is measured as a sum of financial strength, high standards, sustainable growth, quality of work life and social responsibility. “That message, the professors, and the other applicants are refreshing. They prove that I’m not alone in my thinking,” said Andrea Seddons of Barnstable, Massachusetts. “This is exactly the kind of thing other people want, and they, too, see where we need to go as managers and entrepreneurs. Learning this would help any business, nonprofit, or movement, that wants to improve itselfâ€not just for the public eye, but for long-term sustainability.”

The information sessions drew interest from managers, business owners, and a variety of professionals at several stages along the career spectrum. Former National Geographic producer, Kendal Bush, said she was excited and impressed with the crowd, describing it as “demographically diverse, with people from their 20s to 60s, of different colors, men and women who had fascinating careers. I would definitely like learning with them.”

Sasha Johnson, having scrutinized MBA programs all over the East Coast, from the boutique schools to the Ivy League, prefers Antioch’s Green MBA because she likens its to other successful patterns in her life. “In art school, it was all about theory and practice. I’d learn fundamentals in class, then go to the studio to apply them, then return to discuss successes and failures. That works for me.” Now a professional fund-raiser, she says, “This program would allow me and encourage me to continue my practice, while providing theory, new tools, and techniques that I need to start developing. I have my heart set on pioneering something new. And, as managers and business owners, this program, on a national and global scale, is what we need right now.”

“There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come,” wrote Victor Hugo. And so, the first MBA program of its kind on the East Coast, welcomes its first wave of students. Faculty and admissions counselors from Antioch New England’s Green MBA have scheduled visiting days for February 10, March 10, and April 28 at its campus in Keene. Sign up here for details.