23 Oct 2019

Confronting Climate Change: From Business as Usual to Business as Vital

New two-week exhibit comes to Harvard Business School

BOSTON—Harvard Business School (HBS) announced today the launch of Confronting Climate Change: From Business as Usual to Business as Vital, a two-week exhibit on display beginning Monday, October 28, in the Spangler Center, and running through Friday, November 8. The exhibit explores how companies in key industries are being affected by climate change and the business innovations that can mitigate the impact or facilitate adaptation to the new climate.

Open to the public at no charge, the exhibit seeks to shift the paradigm of business-as-usual by encouraging visitors—whether MBA students, alumni, faculty, staff, or the public at large—to consider the role of business in addressing the current and future realities of climate change.

Visitors can learn about five industry sectors that significantly contribute to, and are impacted by, climate change: electricity generation, food and agriculture, transportation, buildings and cities, and materials and waste. Featuring innovative technologies that alumni, students, and faculty are developing to help confront this challenge the exhibit also examines current policy context and the role that business has played in shaping it—and can play going forward.

“Climate change is affecting business in so many ways,” says Professor Mike Toffel, faculty chair of the HBS Business & Environment Initiative (BEI). “All of our MBA students should be thinking about how, when they graduate and are either a part of a business or have created their own business, climate change will affect the demand for their products, how their operations and supply chains will be able to deliver them, and their investors’ changing perspectives about risks and opportunities.”

“Addressing climate change is one of the most critical challenges we face as a global community and will require us to muster all the vision, creativity, and effort we can across technology, finance, and policy,” said Rick Needham (MBA 2002), partner, energy sector lead, TPG / The Rise Fund, and one of many alumni featured in the exhibit. “Yet this is also one of the biggest opportunities and one where I’m committed to help by investing and growing companies that can help us transition to a cleaner and more sustainable future.”

Under the leadership of Toffel and BEI Director Jennifer Nash, the exhibit was developed in collaboration with HBS Operations Sustainability team.

The exhibit is part of a series of activities over the two weeks at HBS focused on

the environment. Launching next week will be a new podcast produced and designed by BEI, “Climate Rising,” featuring faculty, alumni, and other leaders. The series will tackle how areas such as food, diet, business, and politics all intersect with climate change, and will be available on Apple Podcasts.

On Saturday, November 2, from 8:00 A.M. to 5:30 P.M., the HBS Energy & Environment Student Club will host its annual symposium, gathering students, interested community members, and energy industry leaders on the HBS campus to examine the role of business in the energy transition to a low-carbon future.

On Sunday, November 3, from 9:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. at Hawes Hall on the HBS campus, the Food, Agriculture & Water Student Club will host its annual conference highlighting the latest innovations and opportunities for change that will allow the world to feed its growing population, while ensuring we preserve the environment and our most precious resources for generations to come.


Mark Cautela


Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 200 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and doctoral degrees, as well as more than 70 open enrollment Executive Education programs and 55 custom programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, HBS faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching to educate leaders who make a difference in the world, shaping the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.


The BEI was founded in 2010 to serve as a hub for environmentally focused research, teaching and discourse. By connecting world-class faculty, students, alumni and practitioners, BEI works to deepen the understanding of environmental challenges confronting business leaders—and to inspire new ideas and practical, effective solutions that will benefit managers everywhere.