The University of Colorado Denver Business School recently gave sixth grade students from Cole Middle School the opportunity to learn about building sustainable business. As part of a partnership between the University of Colorado Denver and Cole Middle School, of Denver Public Schools, sixth grade students visited the Auraria campus to explore the broad issue of sustainability—including learning about hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered cars, hydrophonics and the positive impact a sustainable culture can have on an organization’s bottom line.
“In business school we take it for granted that businesses operate to produce goods and services efficiently,” says Dr. Ken Bettenhausen, Co-Director of the Managing for Sustainability program at the CU Denver Business School. “The goal for working with these sixth-graders is to help them understand the financial impact of creating a sustainable culture within business.” As part of their visit to the University of Colorado Denver, students worked on a hypothetical problem to evaluate the financial impact of various options to reduce carbon emissions for their school, and identified the most sound solution, from a business standpoint. According to Dr. Bettenhausen, “engineers come up with solutions; solutions cost money; business evaluates costs and invests in those that are most cost effective.” In a microcosm, this is what the sixth graders from Cole Middle School learned.
Through their partnership with Cole Middle School, the University of Colorado Denver Business School is helping to create the next generation of leaders in sustainable management. This is, however, just another piece in the School’s place at the forefront of creating the future of sustainable business. Green business, a sideline issue just five years ago, is emerging as a core strategy for organizations of all sizes.
Despite the increased importance placed upon sustainability, many businesses struggle to understand how to effectively manage a sustainable business policy. In the UK, for example, where large organizations are taxed on their energy emissions, more than 50 percent of businesses cannot accurately report or measure their carbon footprint, and a comparable number do not have board-level reports on sustainability, according to a recent article published by TechWeekEurope. This suggests there is a great need for business leaders to better understand sustainable business, and the positive impact of a sustainability strategy on the bottom line.
The Managing for Sustainability program at the UC Denver Business School is one of the few programs in the country educating students on sustainable management in all aspects of business. It’s a pioneering program that prepares students for leadership roles in an arena that is growing fast. The ability to speak a dual language—the language of business and sustainability—is a distinct advantage in today’s global markets.