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LSBE's New Unique Minor

UMD's Labovitz School of Business & Economics with grasses
October 4, 2017

The Labovitz School of Business and Economics offers the only Sustainable Business and Organization minor in Minnesota.

This fall, UMD’s Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE) launched its newest minor, Sustainable Business and Organization. This minor is unique in Minnesota – no other school offers a minor like this.

Sustainability, as defined by LSBE, is an approach to business in which goals align with social and environmental goals. Increasing demand from large companies, startups, nonprofits, and government entities for graduates with sustainability knowledge, as well as LSBE’s own commitment to sustainability and fulfilling current industry trends, propelled the creation of this minor.

The Sustainable Business and Organization minor is an interdisciplinary minor designed to complement any LSBE major. Opportunities for 21st century managers require, in addition to traditional business skills, understanding of increasingly complex social, environmental and governance issues.

“Students are very interested in learning about sustainability and the opportunities it will provide them, both as employees and in the organizations they will become part of upon graduation,” said Geoffrey Bell, Ph.D. associate professor of Management and vice chair of the LSBE Sustainability Committee.

Sustainability has been an LSBE learning objective for many years now and is part of the LSBE Strategic Plan. Moreover, UMD also is committed to sustainability as represented in goal #6 of UMD’s strategic plan.

Need and demand
According to GreenBiz, 86% percent of large companies had at least one full-time employee who spends all of their time working on sustainability. In addition, 38% of the companies surveyed employed a sustainability executive at the vice president level, and another 34% employed one at the director level.

An Ernst & Young survey of executives and leaders in the area of corporate environmental strategy found that sustainability is increasingly affecting companies’ ability to compete (e.g. 60.6% include sustainability in their strategic planning and capital budgeting).

Closer to home, an LSBE’s learning goals stakeholder survey indicated sustainability ranked as “important” or higher. Surveys of student interest in LSBE indicate that almost 60% of surveyed students were interested in enrolling in this minor.

Competitive advantage
A review of LSBE’s peer and competitor schools revealed that the only significantly similar program is an online major in Sustainable Management offered by the UW system.  LSBE did not find any peer or competitor school that offers a minor in sustainability.  While the Twin Cities campus offers courses in sustainability in CSOM, they do not offer a program, either a minor or a major.

This new minor offers LSBE and UMD a competitive advantage. Offering students a minor in business sustainability, in conjunction with discipline-based majors, allows students to gain a competitive advantage in an emerging career area. Giving students knowledge of the business aspects of sustainability in the context of an underlying discipline may best allow them to exploit job opportunities in the current market.