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Sustainability Blog

A Welcome Back Greeting From Our Faculty Director

We started this year with a lot of momentum! One month into the semester, we have celebrated the Third Annual Carbon Reduction Challenge, hosted the RCE Greater Atlanta book club talk on Mid-Course Correction: Revisited, picked our new cohort of MBA Fellows and Undergraduate Ambassadors, announced the Certificate in Sustainable Business (open to all Georgia Tech majors), and supported the launch of the University Global Compact (UGC), a collective impact initiative for universities committed to achieving sustainable development goals, hosted by Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera in New York. 

In his speech to UGC members, President Cabrera emphasized the power of collective action. In his words, “Our goal is to get organized as institutions to recognize the responsibilities we all have, to support one another, to hold each other accountable, and to share best practices.” He underscored that the initiative will be “a platform for collective action and a mechanism to amplify the voice of higher education” in addressing pressing global challenges.

Left to right: Can Uslay (MBA ’00, PhD in Marketing ’05), vice dean for academic programs and innovations at Rutgers Business School; Beril Toktay; Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera.
Left to right: Can Uslay (MBA ’00, PhD in Marketing ’05), vice dean for academic programs and innovations at Rutgers Business School; Beril Toktay; Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera.

The UGC is very exciting for me as it’s so congruent with our Center’s emphasis on working together to create an environment where business solutions to sustainability challenges can take shape and thrive. Our first collective action project was the creation of Georgia Tech’s Serve-Learn-Sustain (SLS) initiative in 2016, with faculty, staff, and student participation from all six colleges. One of SLS’s big impact projects was bringing together ten regional universities with civic sector partners to establish the UN Greater Atlanta Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development in 2018.

In the meantime, like-minded leaders across campus and our region are making headway in addressing environmental and social sustainability issues. Look, for instance, at the great strides being made by the Georgia Tech Global Change Program as well as by the Georgia Climate Project and Georgia Drawdown (both of which engage multiple universities). One recent highlight on our campus has been the construction of the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design, which Curbed Atlanta calls an “insanely green building” (we’ll take that as a compliment!). These sustainability initiatives and networks give us all a terrific platform for collective action at a national and international level through the UGC.

We’re making an impact far and wide through our Center’s growing “alumni” base, too. We always tell our students they don’t need to have “sustainability” in their job title in order to make a difference. I love hearing from our graduates who take that message to heart! Kudos to Mark Jacobson (2016-17 MBA Fellow), who recently joined the Microsoft Energy team; Jacquie Smyth (MBA ’18), who was selected to the City of Atlanta Office of Resilience’s fifth class of Sustainability Ambassadors; Marybeth Bucklen (2018-19 MBA Fellow), who created a sustainability strategy for the City of Brookhaven; and Katherine Huded (2018-19 MBA Fellow), who became public affairs manager at the Recycling Partnership while still working towards her MBA! If you’re an alumnus who has a similar piece of good news, please drop me a line. We’d love to hear what you’re up to! 

I’m also incredibly proud of our affiliated faculty members’ thought leadership as well as their influence in their disciplines and in the classroom. Our faculty continue to be recognized by their peers, most recently with Basak Kalkanci and Lucien Dhooge receiving career awards for their contributions. Curricular innovations from our faculty, including Eric Overby and Ravi Subramanian, ensure that our students are deeply engaged in subject matter. And our faculty consistently and convincingly present their cutting-edge research findings to a broad audience. Read recent opinion pieces by Karie Davis-Nozemack and Sudheer Chava to see how our faculty use their voices to make real-world impact. It is thanks to their collective work that Scheller College was ranked #2 in the United States and #6 globally in the Corporate Knights 2018 Better World MBA Ranking

Over the next few weeks, we are looking forward to contributing to the Global Climate Action Symposium, the Georgia Tech Sustainability Showcase, and the Georgia Climate Conference. We’ll also be celebrating Ray C. Anderson’s legacy at RayDay, partnering with the Green Chamber of the South and the Metro Atlanta Chamber to host the Sustainability Interactive conference, working with our industry partners on Sustainable Business Consulting Practicum projects (click here to read one of our success stories), and hosting several Business, Environment, and Society Series speakers and Sustainable Business 101 Workshops. In parallel, we will be continuing our collaborative work on the Georgia Drawdown project, on a MOOC based on Mid-Course Correction: Revisited, and on the Sustainable Operations Management Early-Career Academic Network. 

Beril Toktay speaks at the launch of the University Global Compact at Rutgers University.

Beril Toktay speaks at the launch of the University Global Compact at Rutgers University.

As we continue with our work, we welcome friends both old and new to help us advance our mission to create sustainable businesses and communities. If you are a practitioner, let’s talk about how our students or faculty can provide your organization with sustainable business insights. To all those who attend our activities, enroll in our classes, and support us in diverse ways: thank you! Please join us for one (or more!) of our upcoming events this fall. It’s a stellar line-up! If you’re new to sustainable business, stop by our office and say “hi.” Our staff will be happy to connect you to the resources you need. Collective action is key to making a positive impact on a global scale. We look forward to being your partner on that journey.