As we begin the 2023-24 academic year and celebrate our Center’s tenth anniversary, we reflect with gratitude on the contributions from our friends, faculty, staff, students, and partners with whom we have had the pleasure to work over the past decade. We could not have achieved this milestone without the support of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation and other donors, the expertise of our faculty, the inspiration and insights from our students, the engagement of our business and community partners, and the commitment of our staff.
We reflect with pride on our Center’s recent achievements in cultivating collective action initiatives and the many communities that have made these possible. We also continue to develop programming and curriculum that creates new opportunities for our stakeholders. Running throughout all our activities has been a common thread of intentionality around inclusion.
There are many examples of these collective action initiatives and their inclusivity focus.
For instance, Professor Ravi Subramanian joined the Center’s leadership team and launched a new Educational Innovation Community comprising faculty from a range of disciplines. These faculty are infusing sustainability concepts into classes in accounting, information systems, international business, leadership and organizations, and operations.
The Drawdown Georgia Business Compact continues to pursue collective action to help Georgia reach net-zero emissions by 2050 through a just and prosperous transition. Member companies, diverse in sector and size, meet regularly to share sustainability knowledge to advance best practices. The members are also hard at work developing projects related to renewable energy, afforestation, and local food procurement – all of which have the potential to make regional impact while also advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.
We are also entering the second year of programming for Sustainable-X, an initiative co-directed by Center-affiliated faculty Andre Calmon and Karthik Ramachandran. This partnership with CREATE-X supports aspiring entrepreneurs from Georgia Tech and the community in creating startups that address environmental and social challenges. Fresh off their participation in the CREATE-X Startup Launch program this summer, two prize-winning Sustainable-X startups founded by Georgia Tech students are making compelling business cases for inclusivity. One wants to be “Yelp for accessibility,” and another connects employers with an inclusive workforce. We could not be prouder of all the teams that are committed to “doing well by doing good,” as Ray C. Anderson would say.
Our staff also continues to work diligently to “walk the talk,” leading the way in diversity, equity, and inclusion practices in higher education, and receiving recognition from the Institute.
In addition to these accomplishments, we are working to accelerate positive impact in our many activities – from local to global.
Close to home, our Center is working with other Georgia Tech units and the Compact to pursue federal grant opportunities related to workforce development. For example, one potential program would provide training for conducting energy assessments of commercial buildings in under-resourced communities. This fall, our students will be working with minority-owned/managed local organizations such as the Black Farmers’ Network, Finca Coffee, and Goodr on a range of business and sustainability-focused opportunities.
On the regional stage, the Drawdown Georgia Business Compact is launching a MetaCX software tool to improve facilitation and tracking of Compact members’ (60 companies and counting!) and partner collective impact initiatives.
As for global impact, look for developments coming soon related to a National Science Foundation Global Center planning award that our Center is partnering on with the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering and the College of Design. The funding will allow Georgia Tech researchers the opportunity to work with colleagues at the University of Rwanda and Rwanda Polytechnic. This interdisciplinary team will work to lay the foundation for a US-Africa Research Center for Clean Energy to accelerate the adoption of clean energy technologies and mitigate the impacts of climate change in Africa.
It is a privilege to work in partnership with our many communities of impact. Knowing that changemakers can achieve more together, we invite you to join us in our work this year.