ErbWire: Innovations in Education

Thought in Action at The Erb Institute

Hoffman’s Green Construction & Design course a winner

Professor Andy Hoffman

Professor Andy Hoffman

Andrew Hoffman’s course “Green Construction & Design” won the University of South Carolina Moore School of Business 2009 D. Alfred N. and Lynn Manos Page Prize for Sustainability Issues in Business Curricula.

Hoffman’s course was recognized for the innovative way in which it examines sustainability from the perspectives of design, construction and environment.   Judges noted that the course attracts students from a variety of disciplines—including business, engineering, environmental studies, architecture, policy and planning—and students work together to increase their understanding of sustainability issues.

Delta Sky features Erb Institute

The Ross School is among several business schools featured in the March 2010 Delta Sky in-flight magazine article “Sustainable Education.”  The article notes that The Erb Institute developed a joint, full-time MBA/MS degree that emphasizes action-based learning 15 years ago. Read the full article.

Preparing MBAs for a morally complex future

Professor Tom Gladwin

Professor Tom Gladwin

In a Feb. 8 editorial in the Financial Times, Erb Associate Director Thomas N. Gladwin and Erb External Advisory Board Member David Berdish wrote, “Following Copenhagen, we face a perfect storm of global moral questions: what do we owe future generations, the deprived and the environment? Companies are being challenged to declare and act on their social and moral obligations. But business schools are failing to prepare leaders for this challenging task.”

The two noted that according to The Aspen Institute’s latest Beyond Grey Pinstripes ranking of the world’s MBA programs on environmental and social stewardship, too many MBA programs pay scant attention to the social dimensions of sustainability.  As a result, the typical MBA student is not learning why poverty and human rights matter to business, according to Gladwin and Berdish, manager of social sustainability at Ford Motor and adjunct professor at the Ross School of Business.

The authors conclude:  “Business schools need to think differently about preparing future leaders for a morally complex and sustainable future.  In an interdependent world confronting growing environmental scarcity and human deprivation, we will need business leaders who can create social value without increasing energy and material throughput; who can cope with the complexity of interconnected social, ecological, economic systems; who can adapt in the face of uncertainty; who can bring about global change through collaborative and disruptive innovation and who can master multiple alternative futures.

“Above all, we need business leaders willing to accept moral duties and obligations to future generations, the deprived and the environment. Leadership for sustainability needs to become the organizing principle of management education.”

Read the articles:  The Dirty Little Secret About Green MBAs (pdf)
MBAs unprepared for a morally complex future (pdf)

Erb alumni pioneer “Impact Investing” course at the Ross School

Mike Hokenson

Mike Hokenson

More investors today are seeking ways to deliver market rate returns and generate positive social and environmental impacts.  Five Ross alumni recently returned to campus to facilitate a new course titled “Sustainable Finance:  Impact Investing” offered by The Erb Institute.

The experts in the areas of carbon markets, energy efficiency, microfinance, renewable energy and clean tech who led the class included:

  • Mike Hokenson, Erb ’05, managing director of Minlam Asset Management LLC
  • Kipp Baratoff, Erb ’07, principal and co-founder, Equilibrium Capital Group LLC
  • Jonathan Koch, Erb ’96, managing director, US Renewables Group
  • Ryan Waddington, Erb ’99, director, ZBI Ventures
  • Gabriel Thoumi, Erb ’08, project developer, Forest Carbon Offsets LLC.

“We often think of finance and sustainability as living in two separate worlds, but as this course demonstrates, there is increasing momentum behind innovative financial approaches that incorporate socially or environmentally sustainable elements,” said Erb Institute Managing Director Rick Bunch. “We’re excited to add this course to our curriculum and to raise the awareness of sustainably-minded businesspeople and future business leaders about the importance of sustainable finance.” Read more about the class.

Thoumi shares some of the course content in an article titled “Will Forest Carbon Markets Thrive, or Get Lost in the Woods?” which was published April 15 in

The course also was featured in an article in (Financial Times) titled “The class is not always greener,” published April 4.

Thought in Action at the Erb Institute


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