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Engaging Scheller College of Business in Creating Sustainable Communities

Over the past year, the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business (ACSB) collaborated with the Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain (SLS) to engage more educators in our overlapping missions: to weave environmental and social sustainability deep into the fabric of the Georgia Tech experience.
Beril Toktay

By L. Beril Toktay, Faculty Director, Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business

Over the past year, the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business (ACSB) collaborated with the Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain (SLS) to engage more educators in our overlapping missions: to weave environmental and social sustainability deep into the fabric of the Georgia Tech experience.

Nearly 20 Scheller College faculty, staff, and PhD students either took advantage of funding that our Centers (with additional support from the Cecil B. Day Program in Business Ethics) provided for course infusion and development, or participated in programs run by SLS, such as the CETL Course Design Workshop, the FEWS Fellows program, the Innovation Pathway Working Group, and the Neighborhood Immersion Workshop.

The creativity and commitment of my colleagues never ceases to amaze me! Here are some of their contributions.

Bob Burgess, Administrative Director of the Technology and Management Program, designed a service component into the program’s study abroad experience after being inspired by the SLS CETL workshop.

As a result of participating in the Neighborhood Immersion Workshop, Bob Myers, Lecturer in Operations Management, is engaged with an inner-city barber to develop a case for use at the graduate and undergraduate levels. He is also partnering with this barber around his work with inner-city youth, and plans to invite his mentees to class when the case is taught.

PhD student Dionne Nickerson developed an SLS-affiliated undergraduate course on Sustainable Marketing that examines the ways in which firms adapt their marketing strategies to meet both business and societal needs. Associate Professor Ravi Subramanian is developing another new SLS-affiliated undergraduate course on sustainable operations that he will teach in Spring 2018.

In the undergraduate course on Managing Human Resources, PhD student Laurens Steed and her students discussed practices that could foster sustainability in the forms of employee health and well-being, social equity, positive environmental impact, and fair wages, and explored how employers could use training, hiring, benefits, and other corporate practices and policies to facilitate these initiatives.

Assistant Professor Basak Kalkanci credited her FEWS Fellowship with helping her bring the responsible sourcing topic into her Spring undergraduate course on Supply Chain Management. In a survey, more than 90% of the students agreed that the course increased their appreciation of the social and environmental impacts of operations and supply chain practice.

Assistant Professors Tiffany Johnson and Chris Gu are planning to revise their Fall 2017 SLS-affiliated courses, Organizational Behavior and Understanding Markets with Data Science, to emphasize engagement with local community-based organizations and use local data sources, respectively.

Associate Professor Karthik Ramachandran, in addition to his contributions to the Innovation Pathway Working Group, advised the Georgia Tech team that won the Toyota Next Generation Mobility Challenge.

Under Assistant Director of Academic Advising and Student Programming Shawn Dommer’s leadership, the Scheller Undergraduate Programs Office substantially increased communications to students regarding SLS and how its initiatives fit into their development and maturation. The Office highlighted SLS and ACSB goals in all presentations to prospective high school students, accepted freshmen, and competitors for our Dean’s Scholarship. Lauren McDow, Corporate Relations Manager in the same office, helped catalyze and steer the Internship and Co-Op Carbon Challenge.

Ashley Bidlack, Lecturer for the Excel Program, worked with SLS in Fall 2016 to create a course that brought neuro-typical undergraduates together with certificate students with intellectual and developmental disabilities to discuss current events, with a focus on the 2016 presidential election. Based on the success of this model of inclusion, she plans to implement it in their other classes.

Dori Pap, Assistant Director of the Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship, used funding towards ILE’s participation in the Global Social Venture Competition. Both of ILE’s Eastern region teams won honors: Kheyti won the top prize, and Roots Studio came in fourth and won the People’s Choice Award.

Jesse Woo, Research Associate in Privacy and Cybersecurity, attended an academic convention to learn about equity issues related to smart cities, and will produce classroom materials to teach these issues. He recently participated in the INSS conference as a panelist on: “Can Smart, Connected Communities Also Advance Equity? Three Perspectives from Research, Planning, and Design.”

I’m very excited that SLS’s focus on social sustainability and communities has resonated with so many colleagues in our College and has engaged many beyond those already affiliated with ACSB. It takes a village, as they say, and we are well on our way to building a thriving community of individuals committed to translating our vision of creating sustainable businesses and communities into their teaching, research, and outreach.

Beril Toktay is a Professor of Operations Management and the Faculty Director of the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business, at the Scheller College of Business. 

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