MBA in Sustainability students learn how organizations work through multiple group projects, in which they experience the dynamics of teamwork in organizations and learn from their classmates. The projects help to meet the learning goals of the course while integrating professional and academic experiences. Consulting projects are key to a student’s career development, and students often reference these projects in their résumés. Consulting projects are important aspects of various courses. AUNE faculty work with businesses and nonprofits to identify sustainability challenges, then teams of students work to resolve the challenge and present their findings to organizational staff and boards of directors. Examples of consulting projects are below:
Bensonwood, Walpole, New Hampshire
Bensonwood has focused its carbon footprint efforts on the energy efficiency and “seventh generation durability”of the homes it manufactures, rather than on the factory production process. A team of MBA students engaged with Bensonwood to identify a methodology to establish a carbon footprint baseline for factory production as well as to recommend a prioritized list of ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Using the EPA’s Carbon Footprint Calculator, the students concluded that opportunities to reduce the factory’s carbon footprint would require changing both business practices as well as business culture.
Proposed Troy Mills Sustainable Food Hub, Troy, New Hampshire
Students were deployed to research and quantify the net economic benefit of collaboration among independently owned and operated food producers, processors and distributors at the proposed Troy Mills Sustainable Food Hub. Troy Mills had served as the backbone of the town’s economy for over 100 years making horse blankets and then automobile textiles, but it ceased operations in 2002. The MBA team’s project was part of a larger effort to re-develop the Troy Mills site and facility. Students developed a complex financial model that effectively demonstrated the quantifiable economic benefit of on-site collaboration at the Troy Mills Sustainable Food Hub. The client said, “I had a tremendously positive experience working with Taryn’s class last year, and found the quality of students unique: focused, grounded and imaginative all at the same time.”
W.S. Badger Company Inc., Gilsum, New Hampshire
W.S. Badger Company Inc., a family-owned business that makes organic personal care products such as lotion and sunscreen, asked students to create a range of marketing plans. Four teams presented plans to the Badger management team.
We were very lucky to have our business chosen as a focus for the MBA in Sustainability marketing course. The students were divided into four groups, each taking a particular approach to creating a marketing strategy for the W S Badger Company. We were very impressed with the results of this course work! We were invited for a presentation, and afterwards we could not stop talking about all the ideas that were generated. When we received the actual reports, we spent a number of hours looking at them, and have taken up many of these ideas immediately, while other ideas are going into next year’s marketing plan. Excellent work!
Katie Schwerin, Director of Marketing
The Works Bakery Cafe, Keene, New Hampshire
Students created marketing plans to address the branding and customer engagement aspects of The Works’ marketing strategy. Two teams used the latest marketing theories, complemented by market research in the Keene area, to devise strategies for the company. The teams presented their findings to senior management in May, 2012.
Teams of students developed innovative proposals for capturing methane gases from the regional landfill to provide energy for the recycling center and create a greenhouse for locally grown food.
Monadnock Community Market Co-op Keene, New Hampshire
Teams of students created marketing plans for the Monadnock Community Market Cooperative, which was working on a membership drive with the goal of one thousand members and a financing plan to open a co-op in downtown Keene. One team created a plan specifically for a “member loan campaign” as part of the financing plan, and a second team created a plan to market the store upon opening.
The work from the MBA in Sustainability marketing students exceeded my expectations. The students’ work was thorough and comprehensive, and has already been used in marketing strategies for our co-op’s Member Loan Campaign. I was impressed by how efficiently the students worked and the quality of their finished product. They also demonstrated excellent and professional presentation skills, and the MCM Co-op was lucky to receive their consultation.
Bonnie Hudspeth, Project Manager, Monadnock Community Market Co-op
Cheshire County, Keene, New Hampshire
Students helped Cheshire County evaluate options for creating revenue from a large tract of land that included a dairy farm, community gardens, timber, and open space along the Connecticut River. The student projects focused on revenue streams that preserve the beauty of the landscape while creating long-term sustainable options for the farm.
We had great hopes that the fresh eyes and sharp minds of your students would reveal thought-provoking ideas and spark meaningful discussion. We were not disappointed. All of the sixteen students appeared to contribute a tremendous amount of energy and attention to an incredible array of details and concepts for us to consider as we move forward in our most serious deliberations on the future of the farm.
The Cheshire County Board of Commissioners
Cabot Creamery, Cabot, Vermont
Students were asked to assist Cabot Creamery, maker of Cabot Cheese, in developing a strategy for measuring its waste stream. Teams of students worked together to analyze the sources of waste at Cabot Creamery and to design measurement strategies. Students also analyzed disposal options, including landfills, composting, recycling, and the potential waste stream of Cabot Creamery.
We received enormous value from our real-world consulting project with Antioch graduate students. Their grasp of the challenges we presented to them was impressive, and their work stayed within scope. The research, brainstorming, and recommendations of the students were of a depth and quality that showed genuine insight and broad application of their Earth Systems learning. I am already looking forward to our next project with Antioch.
Jed Davis, Director of Sustainability, Cabot Cheese
Monadnock Farm Community Connection (MFCC), Keene, New Hampshire
Teams of students worked with MFCC to assist in developing a new cooperative in downtown Keene. Students were asked to research other co-ops and analyze how they integrate the triple-bottom-line message for farmers, producers, co-op members, and other consumers. Students developed marketing materials to help inform the various stakeholder groups of the importance of balancing environmental, financial, and community messages for the co-op.
The quality and professionalism of the Antioch MBA in Sustainability students-both in their final products and their presentation skills-exceeded my expectations. Their thorough consultation and the complexity of their final product are invaluable to our marketing, community outreach, and sustainable business development efforts as we continue the process of building a community-owned food store. The students’ demonstrated skills and comprehension of whole systems analysis would be an asset to any business.
Bonnie Hudspeth, MFCC Program Coordinator, Monadnock Farm and Community Connection
Clean Air Cool Planet, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Clean Air Cool Planet has become a national leader in supporting schools and businesses in measuring and reducing their carbon footprints. The students, given the opportunity to broaden the services offered by Clean Air Cool planet, presented a business model that expanded services and revenue-building initiatives.
Hannah Grimes Entrepreneur Center Sustainability Manual and Recognition Program, Keene New Hampshire
Student teams were asked to create a learning tool that would allow Hannah Grimes’ clients to integrate earth-systems awareness into their fledgling businesses. Looking at the programs that were already in place at Hannah Grimes, they designed a sustainability education program manual and a recognition program that will be strong supplements to the Hannah Grimes’ Entrepreneur Project curriculum. Together, the manual and the recognition program will help Hannah Grimes’ clients assess their impact on earth systems, set goals to alleviate this impact, provide tips and tools on how to make positive environmental change in their businesses, and celebrate the steps these businesses take toward more sustainable operation.
Stonewall Farm, Keene, New Hampshire, Sustainability Project
The first MBA class did an extensive project with Stonewall Farm, an educational farm. The students were asked by the executive director to learn about the farm’s resources and develop proposals for building revenue. Students identified five options and worked on teams that researched these opportunities. The five areas of focus were pursuing agrotourism, leveraging sustainability and energy savings, developing a commercial kitchen and local-food projects, establishing a local-food restaurant, and capitalizing on existing resources. This sample below is the work of the sustainability and energy group by four of the MBA in Sustainability students, which was presented to the Stonewall Farm Board of Directors. This project was one of the verifications for the course.