MBA Course Descriptions

Students develop competence in three interrelated core areas: Sustainability & Systems Thinking, Business Fundamentals, and Leadership & Change. Capstone courses, Strategy, Innovation & Resilience, and Practicum address all three areas. Principles of sustainability and systems thinking are embedded throughout the curriculum.

Introduction to Sustainability (3 credits)

Competency Area: Natural Systems

This survey course provides a robust overview of sustainability and the role of systems thinking in inspiring change.  In this course, students will focus both on ecological stewardship and social justice as well as on sustainable practices at the individual, organizational, and community levels. Students complete assignments designed to challenge preconceived assumptions, interpretations, and perspectives, to enhance critical thinking and complex reasoning capabilities, and to develop increased effectiveness as the sustainability paradigm continues to evolve.
(4-day intensive)

Earth Systems in Organizations (3 credits)

Competency Area: Natural Systems
Prerequisite: Introduction to Sustainability

This course employs a systems approach to understanding the intersections of business and earth systems, also known as the evolutionary corporation. The Earth systems of atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, and pedosphere are analyzed through case studies, conversations with local organizations, readings, and discussions. Students work closely with one organization to research and problem solve an organization’s earth system challenge.

Managerial & Financial Accounting (3 credits)

Competency: Finance & Economics

In this course the connection between managerial and financial accounting is explored with emphasis on the financial aspects of operational management and the use of managerial accounting to drive strategic results. Students develop the financial skills necessary to effectively manage at the project, program, or business unit level, utilizing both financial and non-financial performance metrics. This course covers basic accounting transactions as well as the mechanics of creating financial statements, the significance of liquidity versus profitability, and the role of both time value and financial ratio analysis. Students build proficiency through hands-on exercises, case studies, and team activities.

Teamwork & Diversity (3 credits)

Competency Area: Collaboration & Group Dynamics 

Skillful teamwork and collaboration are essential to addressing sustainability goals and other complex challenges that face today’s organizations. Working effectively with human diversity is at the heart of successful teamwork. Students learn and apply conceptual models and behavioral skills that enable them to be skillful team leaders, facilitators, and members. Areas of focus include conditions for successful teamwork, facilitation skills, group structure and dynamics, the dynamics of diversity and inclusion, self awareness, interpersonal communication, task productivity, and collaborative decision-making.

Developing People & Performance (3 credits)

Competency Area: Management & Decision Making

How can organizations support both human well-being and successful performance – including the achievement of sustainability goals – at individual, unit, and organizational levels? Skillful managers foster workplace culture, practices, and relationships that support learning, satisfaction, and strong performance among employees. Employees in turn commit their knowledge, skills, and energy to the organization’s success. Students learn principles and models for effective and sustainable human resource practice for managers. We then focus on specific aspects of that practice, including hiring, onboarding, performance development, and dealing with unsatisfactory performance. Students conduct individual research on human resource topics of interest.

Ecological Economics for Social Entrepreneurs (3 credits)

Competency Area:  Finance & Economics
Prerequisite: Excel proficiency.

Ecological economics addresses the complexity inherent in the process of determining how we decide, utilize, and prioritize resources in a way that does not jeopardize the future well-being of the natural and human systems. This course will survey the breadth of current application tools for measuring efficiency in sustainability terms, primarily through the lenses of social entrepreneurship and business applications. Alternative measurement systems will be compared to neo-classical tools for their ability to measure a sustainable direction. Students will develop quantitative skills for measuring and analyzing sustainability, focusing on project and business scale applications.

Finance for Socially Conscious Leaders (3 credits)

Competency Area: Finance & Economics
Prerequisite: MNFE 502 Managerial & Financial Accounting and Excel Proficiency

Building upon Managerial & Financial Accounting, this course focuses on capital: its creation, management, and use to drive strategic results. This course expands upon fundamental financial concepts (i.e., NPV, IRR, and CAPM) and financial statement analysis. It also covers financial and real assets, capital and risk management, valuation and the investment process, and ethical corporate governance. Students analyze business decisions made in response to myriad stakeholder perspectives regarding financial, human, social, and natural capital. In this course, students explore emerging trends in B Corps, microfinance, social entrepreneurship, social cost-benefit analysis (SCBA), social return on investment (SROI), and socially responsible investing (SRI). Students assess performance and impact based on Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and Integrated Reporting (IR) guidelines.

Leadership, Ethics & Change (3 credits)

Competency Area: Leadership & Self Development

For organizations to thrive, business leaders and sustainability champions must be adept at navigating change in complex systems. This requires an understanding of leadership concepts and theory, ethical decision making frameworks, and change management models to address adaptive challenges and effect systemic change. Knowledge of self as leader ; the leader one aspires to be to do the work that makes a difference in the world, a self-assessment of current abilities, and a development plan to bridge the gap ; is also an integral part of the course work.

Operations & Value Chain Management (3 credits)

Competency Area: Management & Decision Making

Managing operations is a highly underrated business activity. This course challenges the preconception that marketing, finance, and strategy rule. Indeed, the design, production, and delivery of a product or service is where both manufacturing and service firms create true value. In this course, students explore traditional aspects of operations and value chain management including new product development, process design and analysis, forecasting, inventory management, production planning and management, logistics, supply chain and information management, cost control, lean, and quality. Beyond that, students analyze case studies to understand how organizations both fail and succeed in achieving social justice, ecological stewardship, and operational excellence.

Marketing & Communication Strategy (3 credits)

Competency Area: Systems & Strategic Thinking

This course explores marketing as an essential component of an organization’s broader communication strategy in the context of organizational sustainability ; defined through the triple bottom line. Specifically, sustainability marketing initiatives will be addressed through the lens of authenticity, driven by an organization’s mission and purpose. The course combines both theoretical and practical elements and is intended to facilitate students’ understanding of specific marketing strategies and tactics as nested within a broader organizational marketing strategy and communication strategy. Students will read a variety of literature and will work with an organization in a consulting capacity, while simultaneously developing a marketing plan.

Strategy, Innovation & Resilience (3 credits)

Competency Area: Systems & Strategic Thinking
Competency Area: Natural Systems

In today’s dynamic and disruptive organizational environment, sustainability leaders must be adept at leading others in effective strategic thinking and execution and in fostering innovation and resilience. In this capstone course, students study contemporary and emerging theories of strategy, innovation, and resilience. Drawing on content from this and previous courses, they develop approaches to address adaptive strategic challenges faced in the promotion of integrated environmental, human, and financial sustainability. Additional competencies addressed include decision making, use of metrics, communication, collaborative processes, and strategic execution.

Practicum (3 credits)

Competency Area: Purposeful Systemic Change

The practicum is a facilitated, independent, self-designed project that students may use as an opportunity to explore a chosen topic in depth, to gain expertise in a particular area for career advancement. Each student: identifies learning goals and guiding questions; conducts research including a review of the relevant literature; designs and implements a project to meet the learning goals; utilizes project management tools in the process; and presents their project to the community as a culmination of the program. Students work independently, with an advisor, and in small advisory groups with other students. In the weekend program practicum is a two semester course with Practicum Strategy & Research in the Fall II semester and Practicum Implementation in the Spring II semester.