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MBA helps students think beyond the bottom line

October 22, 2007

Image of SF State College of BusinessWhen it comes to developing business leaders with a social conscience, SF State's MBA program ranks among the world's best. According to a recent report published by the non-profit Aspen Institute's Center for Business Education, SF State's MBA is one of the top 40 programs worldwide providing socially responsible business courses. It ranks sixth among MBA programs in the state, and third among MBA programs in the Bay Area.

The biennial report, "Beyond Grey Pinstripes," monitors how well business schools are integrating social and environmental topics into their curricula. It compared data from 111 business schools in 20 countries and found that social and environmental topics have increased in business programs by about 20 percent since 2005.

Murray Silverman, professor of management and sustainable business, said the Aspen study demonstrates a growing need for business leaders who understand social and environmental issues. "Both consumers and suppliers are asking a lot more of businesses in terms of how their products and services impact the environment and their communities."

To meet this need, Silverman and colleagues from the College of Business created the MBA Emphasis in Sustainable Business this fall. The concentration is designed to give students the skills to transform mainstream companies into more socially responsible, ethical and environmentally conscious businesses. "We're creating traditional MBA graduates first, but ones who have developed a sustainable vision that they can call upon to help existing, mainstream businesses become more sustainable," said Silverman.

The program is the first of its kind in the CSU system. Students study the impact of business on the natural environment, the ways businesses respond to environmental issues, socially responsible marketing, and how to identify sustainable business opportunities. "A lot of business people think of environmental and social issues as threats," said Silverman. "But these are opportunities -- opportunities to enhance a company's reputation, to excite the people who work there, and to develop new products and services." Five faculty members teach full-time in the sustainable business emphasis.

All students in the College of Business will be thinking beyond the bottom line during Ethics Week, Nov. 5-9. Begun last year, the weeklong program gives faculty members in such fields as finance, accounting, information systems, hospitality management and decision sciences the opportunity to integrate issues of ethics and social responsibility into their courses. "Ethics isn't something you study in one class and leave behind after you graduate," said Assistant Professor of Management Denise Kleinrichert, who teaches in the sustainable business emphasis and is one of the Ethics Week organizers. "It's something business people need to think about no matter what they are doing."

Jon Hoak, chief ethics and compliance officer at Hewlett-Packard, and Kim Winston, manager of civic and community affairs at Starbucks Coffee Co., will speak to students in the MBA program at two events during the week.

For more information on the MBA Emphasis in Sustainable Business, contact Professor Murray Silverman at: For information on Ethics Week, contact Assistant Professor Denise Kleinrichert at:

-- Barbara Hanscome


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Last modified January **, 2007 by University Communications