Sustainability Management

Willamette MBA students interested in Sustainability Management benefit from the program's overall philosophy that sustainability is an important part of the strategy of all organizations, the integrated curriculum, the activities of the Willamette University Center for Sustainable Communities, and from the leadership and networking opportunities available through our MBA student chapter of Net Impact.

The school's approach to sustainability, ethics and social responsibility resulted in our ranking as #23 in the world by the Aspen Institute’s “Beyond Grey Pinstripes” survey, which recognizes MBA programs committed to ethics, environmental stewardship and social responsibility.

What should leaders do? The simple answer is make things better, i.e., create value. Traditionally, the focus for many business leaders has been to enhance value for shareholders. However, times have changed. While many firms are sticking to the shareholder value mantra, others are beginning to think about how to add value for a broader set of stakeholders. For instance see this recent blog from the Wal-Mart CE

This has led to a movement to understand how to create business processes that are “sustainable.” Sustainable organizations develop strategies that serve the needs of the current generation without sacrificing the needs future generations (See the Brundtland Commission Report).

The sustainability management area of interest provides tools to managers (be they in public, private or not-for-profit organizations) to:

  • Enhance the likelihood that both their organization and the wider system on which it depends thrive in the present and the future.
  • Balance positive and negative impacts on the organization with those on the wider system when making decisions in order to optimize the likelihood of the sustainability of the system.
  • And/or push enterprises to disrupt the current status quo and reshape entire industries to make them more sustainable.

Elective courses in each area of interest are offered every year. It is possible that a specific course may not be offered in a given year and that previous courses will be replaced by new courses. Current and recent course schedules are available at

Required Elective Courses

  • GSM 6296: Sustainability Management
  • GSM 6203: Seminar in Cost Benefit Analysis
  • GSM 6222: Business Dynamics: Systems Thinking and Modeling for a Complex World

Other Elective Courses to Consider

  • GSM 6231: Strategic Marketing for Not-for-Profit Organizations
  • GSM 6269: Value Chain Management
  • GSM 6286: Negotiation
  • LAW 686:  Global Sustainability (Willamette University College of Law course)
  • GSM 6268: Leadership
  • GSM 6211: Managing Organizational Change
  • GSM 6249: Project Management