I have seen the future of business education in a rather surprising place, a start-up business school on a small island in Washington State. The Bainbridge Graduate Institute (BGI), a new open source business school, is training environmentally and socially committed people to become good at business. Mainstream business schools, which traditionally have been rather narrow minded about the responsibility of business managers beyond maximizing shareholder value, are beginning to notice their success.
Though having only just started its third year, BGI now has 70 extraordinary students from 25 to 63 years old. Professors from MIT, Stanford, and the Universities of California, Washington, Virginia, teach courses at BGI and return home to incorporate more sustainability in their own courses. In a surprisingly consistent refrain, they say they are thrilled with the caliber of BGI's students and the chance to teach with their concern for the environmental and social responsibility fully expressed. They are using BGI's freely available syllabi to transform the curriculum of their prestigious business schools.
When leading business schools begin looking for students with a passion to find opportunity in addressing the world's larger problems, when they provide a curriculum that prepares students to succeed in doing so, the future is a bit brigher. It's happening.
Information is available on BGI's MBA in Sustainable Business and Certificate in Sustainable Business, and if you are interested in applying for one of these programs for the 2005-06 school year, you can apply here.
Christopher Allen is a software entrepreneur examining the future of social and collaboration tools at Life With Alacrity
Why would it surprise you that innovation in sustainability would come from Washington State? The Northwest has long been on the cutting edge of the U.S. environmental movement -- and of course it has been the birthing place of more than a few major businesses. I think BGI is a "natural" here.
Several MBA schools are redesigning their curricula to emphasize sustainability and other good memes - in another decade having at least some courses in the area will hopefully be the norm.
And we can hope that soon after that, "Sustainable Business" will disappear from MBA titles, since it will be expected for business schools to teach sustainability...