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08-10-2004

Clarkson University Greens Its Business Curriculum And Research

Educating future business leaders who will think beyond the bottom line is an important goal at Clarkson University’s School of Business.

“With the planet’s population expected to exceed eight billion people by 2020, it is imperative that business leaders around the world begin to adjust production processes and products to help reduce the strain on the natural environment,” said Clarkson School of Business Dean Timothy Sugrue. “That’s why we have decided to enhance our curricula by adding courses that consider business operations and marketing in light of social responsibility and corporate citizenship.”

Building on its nationwide reputation in supply chain management, the School of Business this spring introduced “Supply Chain Environmental Management,” a new course offered to both undergraduate and MBA students. The main purpose of the course is to teach future business leaders how to incorporate environmental considerations into business decision-making.

According to Stephan Vachon, professor of operations management and architect of the new course, students are asked to integrate an environmental management perspective into several aspects of business management including corporate strategy, technological investments, and marketing planning.

“The students will examine more than 16 international cases in different industrial settings, each with a distinctive set of circumstances,” explained Vachon. “By looking at the actual managerial challenges of integrating different stakeholders’ interests, students are required to balance the financial, environmental and social aspects of business operations.”

This new course, along with an environmental economics class taught by Fredric Menz, professor of economics, are the building blocks of a new concentration offered within the one-year MBA degree at the School of Business.

“We want to attract students with an undergraduate degree in environmental science or environmental engineering who would like to gain valuable managerial skills,” said Peter Diplock, director of the MBA program.

In addition to the “greening” of the curriculum at the School of Business, Clarkson faculty are also involved in interdisciplinary research projects in the area of environmental management and technology. 

One study currently underway at Clarkson’s Center for Global Competitiveness looks at the relationship between quality practices and investment in environmental technologies. Researchers have collected data that will be used to analyze correlations among various quality management practices and the spending patterns in environmental technology.

“We are trying to assess, for example, whether an organization emphasizing failure prevention in their quality practices would be more inclined to invest in pollution prevention technologies, which imply product or process modification, rather than end-of-pipe and other control technologies,” said Vachon. 

This project emerged from a larger research program on the impact of supply chain management activities on environmental technologies investment that was initiated within the last few years by Vachon and Robert Klassen, professor and Hydro One Faculty Fellow in Environmental Management at the University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business. 

An article arising from this research program published in Production and Operations Management indicated that strategic interaction between a plant and its major customers was associated with greater investment in pollution prevention technologies.

Vachon and Klassen are also part of the Global Manufacturing Research Group that is investigating, among other things, environmental management practices throughout the world.

Clarkson’s School of Business has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report for its academic excellence. In its Best Colleges 2004 issue, the School’s Supply Chain Management program was ranked 16th in the U.S. In addition, Clarkson’s Interdisciplinary Engineering and Management (iE&M) program is considered by many in industry to be the best of its kind in the nation.
[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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