11 May 2018

Two HBS Faculty Honored by Aspen Institute Business & Society Program


BOSTON—Two Harvard Business School (HBS) faculty members, Rebecca Henderson, Harvard’s John and Natty McArthur University Professor, and Jakurski Family Associate Professor George Serafeim have received a 2017 Ideas Worth Teaching Award from the Aspen Institute Business & Society Program. The Program works with business executives and scholars to align business decisions and investment with the long-term health of society.

Rebecca HendersonPhoto: Susan Young

The award honors 20 “exceptional undergraduate and graduate courses that inspire and equip future business leaders to tackle the issues of our time” as well as “extraordinary teaching that is redefining excellence in business education—and ultimately in business practice.” Henderson and Serafeim were recognized for their second-year elective MBA course, Reimagining Capitalism.

“Free market capitalism is one of the great achievements of mankind,” they write in their course syllabus, “bringing prosperity and economic freedom to billions of people and contributing to a flowering of individual freedom and possibility….But today capitalism faces critical challenges on a wide variety of fronts,” including growing income inequality, poor or declining educational systems, unequal access to affordable health care, and environmental degradation. “This course is designed for students who want to explore the idea that at least some of these ‘big’ problems can be effectively address by high-performing private firms” and not left to various levels of government.

Comprising 28 class sessions, the course first examines actions that firms can take at the individual, industry, regional, and institutional levels to engage with these societal challenges. It then asks students to focus on building a theory of change that will enable them to help make the system better. Among the cases included in the course are Summa Equity: Building Purpose-Driven Organizations and JetBlue: Relevant Sustainability Leadership. The course also includes readings that draw on political science, moral and political philosophy, psychology, and economics.

Henderson’s research explores how organizations respond to large-scale technological shifts, most recently in regard to energy and the environment. Her recent publications include Leading Sustainable Change: An Organizational Perspective, a book she co-edited with two HBS colleagues; an essay titled The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Innovation; and a note on Climate Change in 2017: Implications for Business.

She is a Fellow of the British Academy and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the board of Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit organization focusing on leadership and economic solutions, and of Amgen and Idexx, two S&P 500 companies.

George SerafeimPhoto: Russ Campbell

Serafeim’s research, which focuses on measuring, driving, and communicating corporate performance and social impact, has been published in numerous academic and practitioner journals, including Strategic Management Journal, Management Science, MIT Sloan Management Review, and Harvard Business Review.

He has received numerous awards and recognitions for his research on corporate sustainability and sustainable investing, including the Pericles Leadership Award for his services to his native Greece.

He has served in several nonprofit organizations, including the board of directors of the High Meadows Institute, the working group of the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism, and the Standards Council of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board.


Jim Aisner

About Harvard Business School

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 250 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and PhD degrees, as well as more than 175 Executive Education programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, 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. The School and its curriculum attract the boldest thinkers and the most collaborative learners who will go on to shape the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.