Business Students Hold the Future of Climate Change in Their Hands

The COP21 Agreement was a welcome victory in the long climate change battle. World leaders came together and pledged to do their part to reduce emissions and tackle this complex global problem head on. In 2016, at long last, most of the world seems committed to moving to a low-carbon, renewable energy future. Clearly, the rhetoric stemming from presidential primary circus is not moving us forward. Though climate change denialism is overtly visible among G.O.P. candidates, they are not the only roadblock. Obstructionism pervades our political system and it’s going to take more than a Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton to spur innovative climate policy. To bring about a real change, the business sector must step up. COP21 sends a strong message to the business community in the United States. If we are going to leave a more sustainable earth for generations to come, business leaders must be able to translate scientific understanding into action.

For its part, higher education must prepare our current business students to become these leaders. Providing the intellectual background that employers need – such as systems thinking that connects disciplines and an understanding of core science concepts within the context of business decision-making – should be a key curricular goal at both the undergraduate and graduate degree levels.

Educators should consider preparing students for the distinctive challenges of sustainability to be a pressing, critical opportunity. Students in the classroom today will be the ones required to solve the complex problems. Inevitably, they will be tasked with reducing emissions, upping our use of renewable energy, and creating sustainable solutions across business functions in order to increase bottom lines and keep supply chains moving.

Granted, as a university professor it’s tough to feel anything other than cautious optimism when we find out that —> Read More