The Business and Environment Initiative (BEI) at HBS
launched back in 2010. It was founded in order to educate business leaders
about the environmental challenges and opportunities confronting businesses
today and to help them design effective solutions. The initiative promotes
research about the relationships between economic systems and the natural
environment, and about the structures that enable firms to act productively in
this arena. It develops innovative cases, teaching notes, and other curriculum
materials for broader distribution to MBA and Executive Education programs. In
addition, BEI organizes conferences, seminars, and symposia that increase the
visibility of environmental problems and their solutions among students,
alumni, and the broader business community.
What are the
Our primary goals are to catalyze and support faculty
research related to the environment; educate MBAs on the value of natural
resources and the opportunities of environmental innovations; inform and engage
alumni to leverage their expertise relating to environmental issues; and
promote awareness across constituencies of the HBS commitment to environmental
Why do you think the
Business & Environment Initiative is an important part of the HBS
Environmental issues are by nature general management
issues, with implications for every aspect of the business and supply chain,
for business strategy, and for the ways in which firms work with stakeholders.
In addition, economic prosperity and growth depend to a large degree on the
health of the ecosystem, and our goal is to make this as self-evident as
possible at HBS.
What events and
resources do you offer?
In addition to bringing high-profile speakers on campus, we
also offer Lunch & Learn series for our students whereby they gather to
join BEI faculty for informal lunchtime discussions about environment-related
research and interests. We’ve also successfully run an annual mentorship program
which connects students to alumni mentors working in environment-related
sectors who provide career advice and direction. The BEI Student Advisory Board
is another great way for interested MBA’s to contribute to the mission of the
initiative by giving feedback, tracking curriculum development, and working on
various other projects.
How do students get
involved with the Initiative?
They can sign up for our newsletter, event and research
updates, check our website for career resources and participate in the mentor
program. They can also apply to be on our advisory board.
Is the BEI involved
in case writing?
We have a group of core faculty who are very active in
writing cases as well as other curriculum materials on environmental topics
such as climate change, sustainable cities, clean energy, and integrated
reporting. We feature the latest cases in our research update, which is emailed
to internal and external faculty, practitioners and various other
constituents—a great way to showcase the latest in HBS research on business and
the environment to a wide audience.
Do you host
conferences during the year?
Yes, we do. For instance, last March, we worked with Alumni
Relations to put on Business and
Environment 2015: Environmental Challenges and Solutions in the Food Sector. The
exclusive event brought together HBS
faculty, alumni leaders, and industry experts for two days of rigorous
discussions on resource constraints, food waste, consumer concerns and exciting
innovations. In years past, we’ve hosted Paul Polman (CEO of Unilever), Carter
Roberts MBA ’88 (CEO of World Wildlife Fund), Mark Tercek MBA ’84 (CEO of The
Nature Conservancy), and Felipe Calderon (former president of Mexico). During
Harvard’s Climate Week in April 2015, we organized our own series of guest
speakers and activities during the week.
What do you hope
prospective students know about the Business and Environment Initiative?
We hope that prospective students know that BEI is working
diligently to integrate the principles of sustainability into business
education, to disseminate cutting edge research, and to make career resources
in sustainability more accessible and abundant on campus. And, that there are opportunities for
students to get involved in these efforts.