What to study: Sustainable business

Sustainable business programmes go beyond average business studies. As the fight against climate change moves forward, the world needs more professionals who understand the far-reaching impact of businesses and integrate sustainable practices at every level of the supply chain.

As more companies strive to become more environmentally responsible, they look for business graduates with sustainability in their DNA. A McKinsey & Company study showed that 43% of companies aim to align sustainability with their overall business goals.

Universities recognise this call. Since higher learning institutions are also looking to boost their sustainability credentials, offering programmes in this vein to kill two birds with one stone.

sustainable business

With the rise of young climate activitists like Greta Thunberg, it’s clear that it’s never too early to start fighting for sustainability. Source: John Thys/AFP

Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, and Yale offer their versions of sustainable business degrees. Other universities around the world are also catching up with offerings of their own.

If you are passionate about creating lasting solutions to real-world problems, a sustainable business degree could be just what you need.

What will I learn?

Sustainable business degrees integrate the worlds of business and economics with the environmental, social, and cultural aspects of sustainability.

You will be exposed to modules including communication, marketing, management, mathematics, and accounting. Additionally, you will study the environmental and social sciences to better understand the greater impact of business. Expect a deep dive on sustainability models and ethics too.

Most importantly, you will gain a fresh perspective on long-term profitability in relation to social and environmental impact.

sustainable business

Sustainability studies are relevant in several industries including agriculture. Source: Armend Nimani/AFP

What can I do with a sustainable business qualification?

Sustainability studies are relevant in several industries, from tech to agriculture and retail to consulting.

Many entrepreneurs who go for this qualification have an idea of the business they want to build. Some may already be running their small enterprise on the side.

According to Katie Kross, managing director at the Center for Energy, Development, and the Global Environment (EDGE) at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, students who complete sustainability MBAs are “particularly well suited for sustainability careers because they have a solid MBA skillset (finance, accounting, marketing, strategy, operations, etc.) as well as deep subject matter expertise in environmental science and policy”.

Besides running your own business, you can also use this powerful combination in human resource management, corporate social responsibility, or sustainability consulting and financing. Sustainable business graduates can also take on the job scope of a business manager, business development professional, strategy director, or project coordinator.

The knowledge and skills you obtain can be applied in various areas, as sustainability experts are in growing demand globally.

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