By Karen Guzman
Four years after its launch, the sustainability focus area of the Yale School of Management’s MBA for Executives program is evolving to better prepare students working in this rapidly expanding field.
Todd Cort, a lecturer in sustainability at Yale SOM and faculty co-director of the Center for Business and the Environment at Yale, is the new faculty director of the sustainability focus area. He is assembling a revised curriculum that will debut this fall.
“The field is just evolving so quickly,” Cort says. “Four years ago, corporations and stakeholders were the drivers behind sustainability in business. Today, increasingly it’s investors who are leading the charge.”
Yale SOM added the sustainability focus area to its EMBA program in 2014, aimed at managers seeking to achieve greater environmental and social sustainability in their business operations. The EMBA program also includes focus areas in healthcare and asset management.
In keeping with the shift in the field, the curriculum will include expanded material on sustainable finance, an area in which the Center for Business and the Environment is a leader. “One of the key things we want to do is bring in a sustainable finance aspect in a big way, through new courses in the second-year curriculum and access to modules in topics such as green energy project finance,” Cort says.
Cort will also seek out connections with initiatives across the Yale campus. “We want to move from a curriculum to more of a network,” he explains. “The question is, ‘How do we create nodes of networked learning?’”
The goal, he adds, is to integrate EMBA students into the sustainability network that has been developing at Yale over the last 15 years, including the Center for Business and the Environment at Yale and its programs and research; various seminars and speaker series that different schools host; and events such as the Impact Investing Conference that was organized by students last year.
Other changes to the curriculum include a greater emphasis on practical applications of ideas about sustainability. In addition, the program’s faculty will be expanded to include two full-time Yale SOM faculty members, two faculty members from other Yale institutions, and two practitioners in the sustainability field.
The sustainability focus area is open to professionals with a demonstrated interest in sustainability—both those for whom it is already a core part of their role and those switching focus. “We’re seeing interest in all sectors, and there’s been a big push toward entrepreneurship, a growing interest in startups,” Cort said. “This is a group of people who really see sustainability as a driver.”