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Corporate & College Collaborative for Sustainability

I had the fortunate opportunity early this fall to represent Goizueta at the Corporate & College Collaborative for Sustainability, a conference that was co-sponsored by IBM and William & Mary’s Undergraduate Business School. The event allowed business leaders to engage in dialogue with student and faculty leaders from top-tier universities around the nation; the main purpose was to discuss sustainability as a key challenge facing corporations.

I was selected to participate in this two-day conference along with three fellow Goizueta students: Blake Kavanaugh, Sonia Sawhney, and Sebastian Sinisterra. Together, we represented Goizueta as a knowledgeable front on this rapidly growing concern.

The format of the conference featured presentations, interactive panels, and roundtable discussions. We debated issues such as - do universities have a responsibility to educate their students on sustainability in order for them to be ready for the workforce? Who will make the first move towards sustainable business practices—do consumers need to demand “green technology” or do companies need to push consumers to realize it is a necessity for our environment? Is there a tradeoff between acting socially responsible and companies making a profit? In other words, can the triple bottom line theory to organizational values really be upheld, in which companies can have economic, ecological, and social success?

These are topics that do not enter the classroom on a daily basis. Companies, however, are grappling daily with how best they should address the difficult answers to these questions. Attending this conference armed me with current best practices and a deeper understanding of the qualities needed in future employees to make these changes a reality. I enjoyed the thought-provoking discussions and left the conference feeling better prepared to face relevant business concerns.

It was notable also to learn that Goizueta is a leader in business schools confronting this sustainability challenge. We feature a class on Social Enterprise and another on Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability in which students engage in a real-life challenge to make Emory more sustainable. Emory has engaged in initiatives to promote sustainable foods, green buildings, energy awareness, water conservation, etc. Sebastian further noted that, “Our trip to the College Sustainability Initiative revealed that even though the push for sustainability within the curriculum and initiatives of the nation’s top business schools are still in their infancy, there is certainly an impetus for change and the caliber of schools gathered reveals that the movement towards sustainability is steadily gaining momentum.” While Goizueta is a leader in sustainability, it is an ongoing challenge to learn to address the issue in new and better ways.

Lauren Nadan, BBA11