The Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business (“Center”) at the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business is delighted to announce the 2020-21 Graduate Sustainability Fellows and Undergraduate Sustainability Ambassadors. This year, 24 graduate students (representing the Full-time MBA, Evening MBA, and MSEEM Programs, as well as the Executive MBA Program) and 14 undergraduate students will deepen their engagement in sustainability by working on projects and participating in activities related to sustainable business. The programs for Fellows and Ambassadors deliver on the Center’s commitment to empowering students to become leaders in building a sustainable and prosperous future.
Fellows this year represent all Scheller College MBA Programs (Full-time, Evening, and Executive) as well as the Master of Sustainable Energy and Environmental Management (MSEEM) Program in the School of Public Policy. Ambassadors represent ten different majors, with business administration being the most common.
The parallel programs for graduate and undergraduate students are co-organized by Arianna Robinson, Center assistant director of business operations, and Kjersti Lukens, Center program support coordinator. The Fellows and Ambassadors programs are managed by Robinson and Lukens, respectively.
The organizers observed a spike in the number of applications this year. What is the reason for the change? Lukens believes that “sustainability is becoming an increasingly prominent topic both on campus and in the workplace.”
This year’s Fellows and Ambassadors represent all points on the sustainability spectrum—from novice sustainability champions to practitioners with real-world experience. Participants who are just beginning their sustainability journeys have expressed their desire to increase their knowledge and take action on issues such as carbon emissions, waste reduction, recycling, the circular economy, and social entrepreneurship. More experienced participants have already helped to progress environmental and social goals in careers, internships, volunteer work, and personal lifestyle choices. The Center is eager to welcome and support all individuals, no matter where they are on their sustainability journeys or what career they intend to pursue. After all, as Lukens says, “The Center encourages students to infuse sustainability into any work function regardless of whether it is ‘sustainability-focused.’”
Many participants, both undergraduates and graduates, echo sentiments expressed by Fellow Henry Miller, who reflects, “Regardless of where my MBA takes me, sustainable practices will remain a non-negotiable component of the work I pursue.”
Several Fellows who entered the Program with career engagement in sustainability already under their belts include Shawn Buckley, who has contributed to environmental sustainability as a consultant working on Georgia Power’s Commercial Energy Efficiency programs, and Miguel Granier, who has spent over a decade helping to build socially and environmentally responsible businesses as an investor and fund manager. Ambassadors with demonstrated sustainability commitment in organizations include Alex Ip, who as a Serve-Learn-Sustain intern at the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance worked on digital storytelling and outreach projects for a local Black-led environmental justice nonprofit, and Madeleine Hardt, who contributes to a research team that studies fossil corals to improve scientists’ ability to predict climate change. These students’ diverse backgrounds are representative of the wide variety of skills and interests across the entire cohort.
Throughout the 2020-21 academic year, 18 team projects are being pursued by Fellows and Ambassadors. These projects give students the opportunity to delve deeply into their areas of interest. Robinson said, “It’s inspiring to see students work through practical, tangible applications of sustainable business. The projects on which they are working (whether on campus or with partner organizations) represent real challenges, and the students are identifying real potential solutions.” The following projects represent the diversity of issues being addressed by teams for clients:
- Two teams are working on projects related to Georgia Tech’s Vertically Integrated Project (VIP) on the Patagonia National Park in Chile. Students are researching (1) park infrastructure development, and (2) the viability of supporting park conservation through marketable carbon offsets.
- Drawdown Georgia is a state-specific roadmap for carbon reduction that includes 20 high-impact solutions. A team is developing proposals to (1) increase access to solutions (e.g., solar panels and electric cars) to Georgians of all races and levels of income, and (2) ensure equitable access to business opportunities related to the solutions.
- In partnership with the Friends of Refugees’ Jolly Avenue Development Center, one team is contributing to an effort to increase mobility access to the refugee population of Clarkston, Georgia. The project, E.T. H.O.M.E. (or Electric Trike/Bike – Human-centered Options in Mobility with Electrification), will enable a pilot project to bring micromobility solutions to the close-knit community.
In Spring 2021, Fellows and Ambassadors will share project outcomes in videos that will be posted to the Center’s website.
Sol Haroon (M.S. Arch ’18), a returning Fellow who is a member of the E.T. H.O.M.E. team, notes, “Sustainability permeates so much these days. I continue to learn about its nuances while remaining true to the basic mandate of making a difference in a way that considers generations to come.”
The desire for a career that would have an impact beyond a financial bottom line was at the heart of Fellow Patrick Knight’s decision to pursue an MBA. He says, “Creating a sustainable world for future generations is both necessary and intrinsically valuable. By taking responsibility for the full impact of everything businesses put into and take out of the earth, we will be (as Ray C. Anderson liked to say) ‘doing well by doing good.’”
2020-21 Scheller College Graduate Sustainability Fellows
Full-time MBA, Evening MBA, & MSEEM
Thomas Brandon Clark
Eddie Massey III
Martha Jean Schindler
2020-21 Scheller College Undergraduate Sustainability Ambassadors
Written by Jennifer Holley Lux