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Georgia Tech Students Rise to the Carbon Challenge

A new initiative taking place at Georgia Tech, the Carbon Reduction Challenge challenges students to formulate a plan with their employer to reduce carbon and create cost savings.
By Jonathan Clarke

By Jonathan Clarke

A recent GreenBiz article titled “How U.S. business schools are failing on climate change” lamented that “future business leaders are not being prepared for the climate change challenges their companies are certain to face.”

I’m proud to say that the Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech is a leader in preparing our graduates to take on carbon, thanks to an innovative new co-curricular initiative launched in partnership with the College of Sciences. Starting in May 2017, Professors Kim Cobb and Beril Toktay have joined forces to run the Internship and Co-op Carbon Challenge.

Students participating in the Challenge will – in addition to their regularly assigned internship duties - work with their employer to formulate a plan for carbon reductions and cost savings. After taking the initiative to identify promising project ideas, they will be guided through a structured process by Drs. Cobb and Toktay, who will help the students to achieve a successful project of value.

This initiative is exciting because it empowers students to be sustainability ambassadors no matter what their job function. It’s been exciting to see the engagement of both students and companies!  In some cases, the host company chose to participate in the challenge and recruited interns (e.g. Delta Air Lines, Home Depot, SunTrust). In other cases, the students chose to participate and convinced their supervisors to support them (e.g. BP, GE, Alcon Labs, Bostik-USA).  

This initiative would not have been possible without the generosity of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation’s NextGen Committee, or the commitment of Scheller College Dean Maryam Alavi, who is supporting the initiative through the Dean’s Innovation Fund. I am hopeful that this Challenge will provide a model for many other business schools to educate and empower their students to take on the climate change challenges in their professional lives!

Jonathan Clarke is the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs at Scheller College of Business.

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