Best sustainability MBAs


StevenV

What do you all think the best CSR/sustainability MBA program in Britain is? Nottingham? Cambridge? Oxford? Exeter?

Thanks in advance for your opinions.

What do you all think the best CSR/sustainability MBA program in Britain is? Nottingham? Cambridge? Oxford? Exeter?

Thanks in advance for your opinions.
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Duncan

Certainly not Oxbridge. The Aspen Institutes rates four UK schools highly: Ashridge, Exeter, Nottingham and Robert Gordon: http://www.beyondgreypinstripes.org/rankings/index.cfm

Certainly not Oxbridge. The Aspen Institutes rates four UK schools highly: Ashridge, Exeter, Nottingham and Robert Gordon: http://www.beyondgreypinstripes.org/rankings/index.cfm
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ezra

This is a good list - I've seen in mentioned quite a few times recently.

One thing I don't get about it is how these schools set their sustainability goals. For instance, Exeter claims that:

Our target is to reduce CO2 emissions by 60% by 2050.

Similarly for Ashridge:

In particular, the school has adopted a target to reduce carbon emissions by 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

How does a business school possibly plan 40 years ahead? These are admirable goals, but in the end it's just marketing.


Certainly not Oxbridge. The Aspen Institutes rates four UK schools highly: Ashridge, Exeter, Nottingham and Robert Gordon: http://www.beyondgreypinstripes.org/rankings/index.cfm

This is a good list - I've seen in mentioned quite a few times recently.

One thing I don't get about it is how these schools set their sustainability goals. For instance, Exeter claims that:

<blockquote>Our target is to reduce CO2 emissions by 60% by 2050.</blockquote>
Similarly for Ashridge:

<blockquote>In particular, the school has adopted a target to reduce carbon emissions by 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.</blockquote>
How does a business school possibly plan 40 years ahead? These are admirable goals, but in the end it's just marketing.


<blockquote>Certainly not Oxbridge. The Aspen Institutes rates four UK schools highly: Ashridge, Exeter, Nottingham and Robert Gordon: http://www.beyondgreypinstripes.org/rankings/index.cfm</blockquote>
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Duncan

Ezra, I'm an Ashridge alum and, while it might be marketing, it's not 'just' marketing. They are sincere plans which I am sure they are executing.

You might know that a college was established at Ashridge in the 13th century. Since that seminary was nationalised by Henry VIII the building has been remade and extended repeatedly. It's now a really complex proposition to maintain from an carbon point of view. The school's made hugh progress towards reducing emissions already, and that's an ongoing battle. Self-evidently Exeter's buildings are much younger so it's harder to make the school more carbon efficient; I guess that's why ut has a lower target. However I sure that they measure their carbon emissions and reduce them continuously.

Ezra, I'm an Ashridge alum and, while it might be marketing, it's not 'just' marketing. They are sincere plans which I am sure they are executing.

You might know that a college was established at Ashridge in the 13th century. Since that seminary was nationalised by Henry VIII the building has been remade and extended repeatedly. It's now a really complex proposition to maintain from an carbon point of view. The school's made hugh progress towards reducing emissions already, and that's an ongoing battle. Self-evidently Exeter's buildings are much younger so it's harder to make the school more carbon efficient; I guess that's why ut has a lower target. However I sure that they measure their carbon emissions and reduce them continuously.
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StevenV

Thanks, fellas. I know this sounds funny and perhaps cynical, but I guess I was more interested in hearing about quality of teaching / placements than the schools' commitments to reducing their carbon footprint.

Thanks, fellas. I know this sounds funny and perhaps cynical, but I guess I was more interested in hearing about quality of teaching / placements than the schools' commitments to reducing their carbon footprint.
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Duncan

I guess you'd need to use the Aspen ranking alongside the FT ranking and other information. Ashridge and Nottingham get into the FT's ranking of top European business schools. Nottingham's MBA was FT-ranked in 2008 (90th) and 2009 (100th). Ashridge's EMBA was ranked with the fulltime programmes in 2006 (63th) and is now ranked with the EMBAs (on average 58th, both the one and two year programmes at Ashridge are described as EMBAs).

Exeter would come some way before RGU, unless you wanted to work in oil or gas.

I guess you'd need to use the Aspen ranking alongside the FT ranking and other information. Ashridge and Nottingham get into the FT's ranking of top European business schools. Nottingham's MBA was FT-ranked in 2008 (90th) and 2009 (100th). Ashridge's EMBA was ranked with the fulltime programmes in 2006 (63th) and is now ranked with the EMBAs (on average 58th, both the one and two year programmes at Ashridge are described as EMBAs).

Exeter would come some way before RGU, unless you wanted to work in oil or gas.
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ezra

Ezra, I'm an Ashridge alum and, while it might be marketing, it's not 'just' marketing. They are sincere plans which I am sure they are executing.

I don't doubt that - I'm sure the school is taking proactive steps to maintain sustainability standards. But I'm skeptical of any organization that projects its carbon footprint so far ahead - just because that projection is based on so many assumptions that have high uncertainties (whether we're at peak oil, for example - or the rate of technological advancement in clean energy.) It's just impossible to make that kind of speculation.

Thanks, fellas. I know this sounds funny and perhaps cynical, but I guess I was more interested in hearing about quality of teaching / placements than the schools' commitments to reducing their carbon footprint.

Indeed, sorry for the divergence. Definitely take Duncan's advice about cross-referencing the Pinstripes report with other rankings. Also, check out other highly-ranked schools, because many of them have academic courses in sustainability and CSR - even if they don't show up in the Pinstripes report. Warwick, for instance - has modules on "Sustainability & the Low Carbon Economy," and "Corporate Citizenship & CSR" that you can supplement your core (and reputable) MBA curriculum with.

Also, check out Aston. They're a signatory to the UN Principles of Responsible Management Education - and ranked highly by the organization People and Planet - a growing group dedicated to helping improve the planet through sustainability and CSR. They have a new MSc program in Social Responsibility & Sustainability if you're interested in that too.

<blockquote>Ezra, I'm an Ashridge alum and, while it might be marketing, it's not 'just' marketing. They are sincere plans which I am sure they are executing.</blockquote>
I don't doubt that - I'm sure the school is taking proactive steps to maintain sustainability standards. But I'm skeptical of any organization that projects its carbon footprint so far ahead - just because that projection is based on so many assumptions that have high uncertainties (whether we're at peak oil, for example - or the rate of technological advancement in clean energy.) It's just impossible to make that kind of speculation.

<blockquote>Thanks, fellas. I know this sounds funny and perhaps cynical, but I guess I was more interested in hearing about quality of teaching / placements than the schools' commitments to reducing their carbon footprint.</blockquote>
Indeed, sorry for the divergence. Definitely take Duncan's advice about cross-referencing the Pinstripes report with other rankings. Also, check out other highly-ranked schools, because many of them have academic courses in sustainability and CSR - even if they don't show up in the Pinstripes report. Warwick, for instance - has modules on "Sustainability & the Low Carbon Economy," and "Corporate Citizenship & CSR" that you can supplement your core (and reputable) MBA curriculum with.

Also, check out Aston. They're a signatory to the UN Principles of Responsible Management Education - and ranked highly by the organization People and Planet - a growing group dedicated to helping improve the planet through sustainability and CSR. They have a new MSc program in Social Responsibility & Sustainability if you're interested in that too.
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StevenV

Thanks. I am a freelance CSR consultant right now, but wouldn't mind using an MBA to not only sharpen my management skills but also for getting hired by a company after the program finishes. Do you think this realistic?

Thanks. I am a freelance CSR consultant right now, but wouldn't mind using an MBA to not only sharpen my management skills but also for getting hired by a company after the program finishes. Do you think this realistic?
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Duncan

That is exactly what MBAs are there to do. It seems quite realistic.

That is exactly what MBAs are there to do. It seems quite realistic.
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StevenV

Cool. Last question is how good are career services at Nottingham and Exeter? Because these are not really very well known schools in continental Europe where I live.

Cool. Last question is how good are career services at Nottingham and Exeter? Because these are not really very well known schools in continental Europe where I live.
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Duncan

Well, Nottingham is a school with much better resources, but since their CSR MBAs will be hard to place I would ask them for placement figures for those programmes in particular. I would expect pretty low employment after 3 months, maybe 60%...

Well, Nottingham is a school with much better resources, but since their CSR MBAs will be hard to place I would ask them for placement figures for those programmes in particular. I would expect pretty low employment after 3 months, maybe 60%...
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StevenV

Ok, thanks. Wait - why do you think CSR MBAs are hard to place? Does it make more sense not to officially specialize on CSR, but rather to just get a generalist MBA and leverage my previous experience in CSR to get a job afterward?

I would tend to pick another b-school for a general program. But I have a feeling these schools - at least Nottingham - would have solid connections in the CSR community.

Ok, thanks. Wait - why do you think CSR MBAs are hard to place? Does it make more sense not to officially specialize on CSR, but rather to just get a generalist MBA and leverage my previous experience in CSR to get a job afterward?

I would tend to pick another b-school for a general program. But I have a feeling these schools - at least Nottingham - would have solid connections in the CSR community.
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Duncan

I would suggest that you speak to some graduates from these programmes, and to people in the CSR field.

There are few jobs in CSR, and it is a small community. Few successful CSR people have MBAs: certainly fewer than one in a dozen, despite the fact that so many CSR people are consultants. Most of the largest employers of MBAs in the CSR field in the UK are universities, and I would imagine there is no firm that employs more than a handful, with the possible exception of BT. Since there is a large supply of people wanting to work in CSR and other 'ethical' areas, why would an employer pay a premium for MBA skills if they are needed in few CSR roles?

Of course you can ask for placement data, but if there were high salaries for a large number of CSR roles which required MBA skills, there would be top business schools offering CSR programmes. Generally, CSR people are doing CSR as part of a broader role, often in marketing, advertising, public relations, investor relations or in providing CSR services in consulting, training and so on.

Indeed, I would suggest that a generalist MBA would give you a better foundation to build up one of those associated functional skills. Because the specialised MBA hasn't really taken off in the UK, the schools with the most UK CSR MBA alumni are not Exeter or Nottingham, but the brand leaders especially:
# The Open University
# University of Warwick - Warwick Business School
# Henley Management College
# University of Nottingham - Nottingham University Business School
# University of Cambridge
# University of Leeds
# Cranfield University - Cranfield School of Management
# University of Manchester - Manchester Business School
# The University of Edinburgh
# Imperial College London
# London Business School

PS Let me try to sum this up: if you are interested in CSR personally, want to conduct PhD study in the area, or are making a solid lifestyle choice against a high income and instead to work in CSR, then a CSR MBA is a great idea. However, you should be aware that there will be a very low RoI on a CSR MBA in comparison to other MBAs. Those of higher salaries are often greenwashing. Educationally and experientially, the CSR MBAs (and also look at the sustainable business MSc degrees at HEC and Ashridge) will be valuable.

However, if you want to effect change in business, would you not be better off either [a] going into grass roots campaigning, since it's external pressure which really produces change become an expert in some business function where irresponsible business is also unprofitable, and then get a top-tier MBA or MSc to have full credibility.

I would suggest that you speak to some graduates from these programmes, and to people in the CSR field.

There are few jobs in CSR, and it is a small community. Few successful CSR people have MBAs: certainly fewer than one in a dozen, despite the fact that so many CSR people are consultants. Most of the largest employers of MBAs in the CSR field in the UK are universities, and I would imagine there is no firm that employs more than a handful, with the possible exception of BT. Since there is a large supply of people wanting to work in CSR and other 'ethical' areas, why would an employer pay a premium for MBA skills if they are needed in few CSR roles?

Of course you can ask for placement data, but if there were high salaries for a large number of CSR roles which required MBA skills, there would be top business schools offering CSR programmes. Generally, CSR people are doing CSR as part of a broader role, often in marketing, advertising, public relations, investor relations or in providing CSR services in consulting, training and so on.

Indeed, I would suggest that a generalist MBA would give you a better foundation to build up one of those associated functional skills. Because the specialised MBA hasn't really taken off in the UK, the schools with the most UK CSR MBA alumni are not Exeter or Nottingham, but the brand leaders especially:
# The Open University
# University of Warwick - Warwick Business School
# Henley Management College
# University of Nottingham - Nottingham University Business School
# University of Cambridge
# University of Leeds
# Cranfield University - Cranfield School of Management
# University of Manchester - Manchester Business School
# The University of Edinburgh
# Imperial College London
# London Business School

PS Let me try to sum this up: if you are interested in CSR personally, want to conduct PhD study in the area, or are making a solid lifestyle choice against a high income and instead to work in CSR, then a CSR MBA is a great idea. However, you should be aware that there will be a very low RoI on a CSR MBA in comparison to other MBAs. Those of higher salaries are often greenwashing. Educationally and experientially, the CSR MBAs (and also look at the sustainable business MSc degrees at HEC and Ashridge) will be valuable.

However, if you want to effect change in business, would you not be better off either [a] going into grass roots campaigning, since it's external pressure which really produces change [b] become an expert in some business function where irresponsible business is also unprofitable, and then get a top-tier MBA or MSc to have full credibility.
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StevenV

Thanks for your thoughts on this Duncan. I do appreciate it. I am indeed leaning toward a general program. And I will try to talk to alumni.

All that said, I'm not sure I agree with some of your overall assumptions about people who are interested in CSR, which happens to be my field. I don't for example think my energies would be better spent in grassroots campaigning. Nor do I think that the "large supply of people wanting to work in CSR" necessarily outweighs at least equally large supply of people who want to command a high salary in banking, consulting and etc.

But thanks for your feedback anyway. I will have a closer look at your suggestions for schools.

Thanks for your thoughts on this Duncan. I do appreciate it. I am indeed leaning toward a general program. And I will try to talk to alumni.

All that said, I'm not sure I agree with some of your overall assumptions about people who are interested in CSR, which happens to be my field. I don't for example think my energies would be better spent in grassroots campaigning. Nor do I think that the "large supply of people wanting to work in CSR" necessarily outweighs at least equally large supply of people who want to command a high salary in banking, consulting and etc.

But thanks for your feedback anyway. I will have a closer look at your suggestions for schools.
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Duncan

Hi Steven. yes, I guess I have the approach towards CSR that you'd expect from a jaded PR manager. You can read more about that here: http://www.analystequity.com/1329/is-sustainable-business-selfish-or-altruistic

I do think there are more people who want to work for banks than in CSR, but then banks are big employers. Banks have to fight for talent. CSR pros have to fight for jobs.

Hi Steven. yes, I guess I have the approach towards CSR that you'd expect from a jaded PR manager. You can read more about that here: http://www.analystequity.com/1329/is-sustainable-business-selfish-or-altruistic

I do think there are more people who want to work for banks than in CSR, but then banks are big employers. Banks have to fight for talent. CSR pros have to fight for jobs.
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