The Business and Environment Initiative is the hub for environmentally-focused research, teaching, and discourse at HBS. We connect faculty, students, alumni, and practitioners to deepen the understanding of the most pressing environmental challenges confronting business leaders and to inspire new ideas and solutions.  

We have three core goals: catalyze and refine faculty research ideas, educate MBAs on the value of natural resources and the opportunities for innovation and investment, and inform and engage alumni to leverage their expertise in the field. Moreover, BEI leverages all three areas of focus to help move the needle on climate action.  

The initiative is especially active on the curriculum front through facilitating the development of innovative cases, teaching notes, and other materials, both for use in the HBS classrooms and for broader distribution to MBA and Executive Education programs around the world. We have a group of core faculty who are particularly active in writing case materials on environmental topics including climate change, sustainable cities, clean energy, and integrated reporting.  

A great example of addressing climate change in the classroom is the recent Climate Change Challenge assignment in Technology & Operations Management, a required first-year course taught by Mike Toffel, Senator John Heinz Professor of Environmental Management and BEI faculty chair. More than 900 students were asked to choose a company whose operating model was likely to be affected by climate change or related regulation and recommend steps it should take to address related risks while simultaneously seizing emerging opportunities for investment or innovation.  

On the engagement front, BEI organizes conferences, seminars, and symposia that bring environmental problems and their solutions to the fore. In past years, we’ve hosted Paul Polman (former CEO, Unilever), Carter Roberts MBA ’88 (CEO, World Wildlife Fund), Mark Tercek MBA ’84 (CEO, The Nature Conservancy), and Felipe Calderon (former president of Mexico). We also partner regularly with two student clubs—the Energy and Environment club and the Food, Agriculture and Water club—to co-host various speakers on campus, career treks across the country, and receptions for students and alumni, just to name a few. We strive to amplify student leadership on the environment through these partnerships.  

During Harvard’s Climate Week in April 2018, we organized guest speakers and activities including a candid conversation with David Crane, former CEO of NRG Energy, about his failed attempt to turn the company into a major renewable energy provider. We produced a short video of the event highlighting David’s leadership in the context of climate change.  

In 2018, BEI has been convening alumni events on climate change across US cities, each tailored to regional interests, which will culminate in a flagship Alumni Conference on investing in the era of climate change in the spring of 2020. To date, we’ve assembled alumni panels in San Francisco, Miami, Washington DC, and New York with events coming up in Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. You can check out a video of our San Francisco event on “The Role of Business Leaders in the Age of Climate Change” here, which attracted about 50 local alumni.  

In addition to bringing high-profile speakers on campus, we also organize informal discussions with students and BEI faculty about environment-related topics. We run a mentorship program that connects students with alumni mentors who provide career advice and direction in energy and environment-related fields. Becoming a BEI student advisor is another great way for interested MBAs to contribute to the mission of the initiative by providing feedback on our programs and content and working on various other projects.  

Lastly, we hope prospective students know that BEI is working diligently to integrate the principles of sustainability into business education, to disseminate cutting edge research, and to bolster career resources at the school. We think that 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 fact, economic prosperity and growth depend to a large degree on the health of our ecosystem, and our goal is to make this as self-evident as possible. We look forward to meeting you and working together on these critical issues.  

For more information about the BEI, please visit our website. Prospective students interested in the environment should check the MBA Experience page of our website for information on current curricular offerings, independent projects, student clubs, and career resources. For students interested in assuming an advisory role, please email us directly at