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Charles Wankel

Do business schools prepare future managers to analyze environmental issues? The answer tends to be no.

—A. J. Hoffman

We are now living in an era where something remarkable and transformative is taking place.

—Jimmy Wales


In a classic 1970 Earth Day poster, Pogo the anthropomorphic opossum is looking forlornly over a once lovely swamp that has been ravaged by the detritus of humans. Looking over his shoulder at the viewer, he wisely says: "We have met the enemy, and he is us." This seemingly simple message has serious implications for the future of management education in an era where catastrophic events, from tsunamis to hurricanes to earthquakes to oil spills to economic crises, are occurring with increasing regularity. Education is key to "raising the level of understanding of the fragility of the global ecological situation" (Sahlberg & Oldroyd, 2010).

We have to grapple with how to transform management education from being a resource supporting global warming generating activities to being a significant part of the solution. Management education has provided tools, mindsets, and "ethical" perspectives to encourage, empower, and justify actions that are continuing to destroy the capacity of our planet to support our species as well as many others. The task of transforming our system of management education and contributing to the development of leaders and others is the challenge of management education professionals. This chapter provides an overview of the diverse ways that our peers are starting to address this. Teaching managers to deal with the dangers inherent in the global ecosystem trajectory is an imperative. Clearly, the world is changing in dramatic ways, and it is the responsibility of management educators to show future managers how to be ahead of the curve in the new era of catastrophism rather than merely responding to it. The kinds of leaders needed for the new era cannot be expected to appear by themselves. There needs to be a solid managerial education foundation to shape their actions.

One main desired outcome of emphasizing environmental education for future managers is knowledge or awareness. Increasing students' awareness of environmental laws and regulations and of the ethical implications of environmental issues will contribute toward the managers of tomorrow being better able to understand and manage environmental issues. Increasing students' awareness of the strategic implications of environmental issues, especially the opportunities of greener products, will awaken individuals' awareness of the land they occupy to make environmental consequences of managerial choices more visible and relevant. Emphasizing the concrete, direct link between management strategies and the consequences of those actions in the land they dwell upon will promote holistic, ethical managerial outlooks. In modern life, there has been a tendency to regard the environment as something separate and subservient to human activities. However, the burgeoning catastrophes in recent years is both an outcome of this modular, rather than holistic, way of regarding the environment and a reminder that we are part of nature and powerless against her during disasters. Clearly, promoting environmentally responsible managing goes hand in hand with raising the consciousness of students overall (Rands, 2009).

A further central desired outcome of emphasizing environmental education in management is improving students' attitudes, meaning the way that their knowledge is applied in key decisional situations. Increasing students' sensitivity to environmental issues and concerns develops sound attitudes, which become the basis for students to make responsible choices regarding environmental issues in their professional lives. Fostering an environmental consciousness and developing environmental respect and responsibility among students will advance environmental values and practices in businesses (Rands, 2009).

An additional important outcome of the new environmental education of managers will be improved, evolved skills. Specifically, the goal is to help students cultivate and implement a holistic, systemic appreciation of sustainability and the barriers to it that facilitates their contributing to both personal and multipersonal changes that advance sustainability. Students need these new skills to contribute to the development of a sustainable economy and bring about environmentally sustainable changes in organizations. Helping students develop a critical skill-set of reflexivity, analytic acumen, and social engagement that they can use in decision-making and leadership to foster robust sustainability will help students develop a comfortableness with including environmental and related regulatory factors in the calculus of their thinking. It is necessary to instill mindsets of this kind in students so that they have a solid foundation to leverage the long-term environmental opportunities, since significant inclusion of sustainability has not been the norm. The hope is that someday in the not too distant future these skills underlying holistic sustain-ability outlooks will become intuitive and second nature, just as environmentally harmful skills and outlooks have been second nature. Arriving at that point, however, will require a sustained, collective effort which may well be led by managerial educators (Rands, 2009). Environmental education in business schools in addition will help students become qualified to fill the increasing number of jobs in business organizations requiring awareness of environmental ramifications, increase interdisciplinary collaboration, and motivate students to think of and implement innovative environmental practices.

Management education with a significant inclusion of sustainability issues is concentrated in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the European Union. Since sustainability is a global problem, a lack of understanding of sustainability management education in places like China and India might well hamper the transition towards a greener global economy (Park, Sarkar, & Bunch, 2012). As of April 19, 2013, for example, only one school was listed as involved in the Aspen Institute's Beyond Grey Pinstripes (2012) report for both China and India: The China Europe International Business School and the S. P. Jain Institute of Management and Research (

For courses such as operations management (OM), sustainable development aspects can be integrated with OM issues throughout a course without having to change the basic teaching pedagogies (Fredriksson & Persson,

2011). Most business courses can be taught through the lens of sustainability. Student interest in sustainability is growing. Thus integration of sustainability into such courses as economics can increase student engagement where business and society issues relate to such basic macroeconomics issues as pricing and profit maximization, as well as more advanced topics as externalities and innovation economics (Maxfield, 2011).

Green marketing is another example of a course that can excited students to develop marketing talents and skillsets that can be used to both make profits and help the planet simultaneously (Rudell, 2011). Textbooks for such courses are increasingly available, for instance, in marketing, Esty and Winston's (2009) Green to Gold and Ottman's (2011) Green Marketing.

Corporate-based and university-based management education are moving away from their established emphasis on narrow financial performance outcomes to including a broader interest in developing sustainability and ethical awareness and skills (Ardichvili, 2012). Yet currently there seems to be more of a readiness to integrate sustainability topics into graduate rather than undergraduate business curricula (Izberk et al., 2012).

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