Field Course: Innovation in Business, Energy, and Environment - Harvard Business School MBA Program

Field Course: Innovation in Business, Energy, and Environment

Course Number 6611

Professor Rebecca Henderson
Professor of Mgt Practice Joseph Lassiter
Senior Lecturer John Macomber
Professor Forest Reinhardt
Fall, Q1Q2; 3 credits

Enrollment limited to 40 (with up to 60 additional students enrolled only in IBEE)

A 1.5-credit version of this course, consisting of only the 14 early class sessions, is offered as Innovation in Business, Energy and Environment (course number 1165).


This course combines a classroom experience with an independent project to explore advanced and emerging topics in business, energy, and the environment. There is a focus on opportunities for organizations whose offerings are significantly involved in or impacted by energy, water, resource efficiency, transportation, and conservation. The classroom portion of the course is team taught in one section by the primary faculty of the Business and Environment Initiative. The projects are supervised by the course faculty and administered together so that there is a community of interest around the explorations.

Career Focus

The course will benefit students who expect to have important product development, division leadership, finance, or consulting responsibilities in business segments that are particularly influenced by issues relating to energy, water, waste, transportation, and the other topics listed below.

Educational Objectives

This course seeks to go deep on examination of a few keys types of opportunities for corporate, entrepreneurial, and investment impact with respect to the intersection of business, energy, and the environment. The course draws on the background and research interests of the faculty to focus on new developments and current business issues in their respective fields.

Course Content and Organization

In the classroom portion, the course moves from more general cases establishing a common background of vocabulary and frameworks into specific circumstances facing businesses whose offerings are particularly engaged in the interaction of business, energy, and the environment. Usually the impact of consumer and social attitudes, as well as political and regulatory processes ranging from carbon pricing to consumer protection must be considered with particular attention in these fields. Topics include key resources like traditional energy, alternative energy, water, waste water, and aspects of transportation; as well as important technologies and business models like renewable energy, batteries, sensors and data, optimization, collaborative consumption, energy efficiency finance, consumer behavior, climate change adaptation, and the circular economy (cradle to cradle).


In the project portion, students work in self-organized teams on independent projects which are suggested by faculty or self-organized. The projects may have a corporate or institutional sponsor but this is not required. At several junctures the project teams will convene to share plans, progress, and results. Many projects in this course will be the starting point for business plan competitions later in the academic year, for further Independent Project work in Q3 and Q4, and for enhancement of knowledge leading into the job interview process.

This course is part of a portfolio of courses relevant to Social Enterprise. For a full listing, see the Social Enterprise Initiative website.