MBA Sustainability best in country

By Brittney Jackson | For the Duquesne Duke

Corporate Knights, a quarterly international magazine, ranked Duquesne’s full-time MBA Sustainability program No. 1 in the United States and No. 8 worldwide.

These results, released on Sept. 23, came from a 2013 survey of course requirements, university support and integration of sustainability in the student experience for internationally ranked full-time MBA programs.

The program was launched in fall 2007 to complement Duquesne’s traditional evening MBA program that has been preparing business leaders since 1962. Alan Miciak, who was dean at the time, prompted the development of a one-year daytime program.

Faculty involved in designing the full-time MBA curriculum included Diane Ramos, Robert Sroufe, Virginia Gerde, Nagaraj Sivasubramaniam, Brian Nagle and Matthew Drake.

Thomas Nist, the Donahue Chair in Investment Management and director of graduate programs, describes the program as an MBA with a concentration in sustainability that melds traditional business disciplines with global best practices and experiential learning.

According to Diane Ramos, associate director of graduate business programs, the program’s innovative curriculum and delivery model contributed to its superior ranking.

In the program, students engage in two projects and a hands-on practicum to analyze carbon footprints and greenhouse gas emissions, design zero waste initiatives, create new product marketing plans, take on contemporary management issues and make immediate financial impacts for multinational, regional, and not-for-profit clients.

The program also includes study trips and field work in developed and developing countries of Europe, Asia and South America.

Dean McFarlin, the current dean of the Palumbo-Donahue Business School, praised the innovative nature of the program.

“The MBA Sustainability at Duquesne is a unique program that few business schools in the world, much less in the United States, can match,” McFarlin said.

Graduate students, 31 in total, from a variety of backgrounds comprise the current cohort. Approximately one-third majored in business. The other students have backgrounds in English, engineering, sciences, philosophy, architecture, law, social science and other humanities.

Molly McCann, a current student, said she was initially unsure about whether the program would suit her, but a phone call from Ramos convinced her otherwise.

“I would suggest this program to anyone,” McCann said. “There is no lull; you immediately jump into the program. It is a very aggressive way to get your MBA, but you receive your MBA in a year.”

McCann also said she believes that variety in student backgrounds eliminates cutthroat competition and instead creates a “communal education process.”

Ramos said she thinks graduates of the MBA Sustainability program have a significant edge over graduates of traditional MBA programs. She also said the program prepares future leaders to “ethically manage financial, human, environmental and informational resources for prosperity today, without compromising tomorrow.”

According to Ramos, graduate students in the program are prepared to “lead change responsibly and profitably in any industry or organization.”

Stephen Sumpter, a current graduate student, said he would also recommend the program.

“The support to make sure you do not sink is amazing,” Sumpter said. “It’s a rough year but the professors want you to succeed.”

The program has received numerous recognitions in the past. It was consistently ranked among the Global Top 25 on Beyond Grey Pinstripes by Aspen Institute from 2007 through 2012. It also received the Page Prize for environmental sustainability curriculum in 2008, and was commended by AACSB-International as part of the reaccreditation process in 2013.

Sroufe, Murrin Chair in Global Competitiveness and resident sustainability expert, was one of five finalists for “Faculty Pioneer of the Year” by Aspen Institute in 2013, and Sroufe and Ramos received Duquesne’s “Creative Teacher Award” for live consulting courses in the program in 2011.