When a group of students recently met with me about getting MIT to divest from fossil fuels, I suggested a more effective approach: If they really want to mitigate climate change, I suggested, start by calling out politicians and others who continue to deny the scientific consensus about climate change and its causes. And as I thought about the need to hold people accountable for the consequences of their science denial, I realized that institutions such as my own — not just our students — also need to get off the sidelines. We need to do a better job of defending and championing scientific truth.
And we cannot wait. The title for a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works that opened on July 18 gets it right:“Climate Change: It’s Happening Now.” But so, too, is denial, and not just of the manmade causes of climate change.
The Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan fosters a community of innovators for sustainability among students and alumni. Take Shayna Harris, who is the cocoa sustainability manager for Mars Global Chocolate, for instance. Her job—which involves travelling to cocoa farms throughout Indonesia and Africa—helps farmers to increase their yields, which both boosts the global supply of cocoa and lifts people out of poverty.Shayna recently blogged about her job at Bloomberg Businessweek.– Jason Jay, Director, Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan
From Bloomberg Businessweek
A public service announcement to chocolate lovers: The world is facing a severe cocoa shortage by the year 2020. A deficit of this magnitude threatens the future of desserts and tasty snacks everywhere. Imagine a life without M&Ms, Snickers, and Dove Bars. Bleak, right?
All kidding and product placement aside (full disclosure: I’ve worked for Mars Global Chocolate since graduating from MIT SloanSchool of Management three years ago), this is serious business. The chocolate industry continues to grow, but today’s cocoa farmers don’t have access to the training and tools they need to boost productivity and meet future demand.
It is a basic tenet of economics that regulations almost always have unintended consequences. While Adam Smith may have been one of the first to understand this, he could not have possibly foreseen the morass of expensive and unwanted consequences that could come from conflicting emission and fuel standards enacted by the state of California and federal programs, such as for greenhouse gases and Corporate Average Fuel Economy.
Both the state and federal regulations have worthy goals: to decrease greenhouse-gas emissions and lower petroleum consumption. Yet taken together, the federal standards effectively cancel out the California standard. Instead of promoting fuel reduction as intended, the California standard allows for the production of less-efficient vehicles, while facilitating a massive transfer of cash via credit trading. It also forms a de facto industrial policy that sends us down a path toward electric vehicles that may or may not be the best technological or environmental choice for the future.
A few years ago, thought leaders and experts around the world began to meet to discuss the slow pace at which business seems to progress in tackling the challenges of innovation and change towards ideal models of sustainable enterprise. The result of those discussions was the launch of a unique initiative called GOLDEN for Sustainability (“Global Organizational Learning and Development Network”). Never before has such a multi-disciplinary, large-scale research project been undertaken in the management domain.
Since GOLDEN’s launch, experts from all business fields including, innovation, organization, strategy, marketing, accounting, human resources, business ethics and operations have been working with environmental scientists and social scientists (economists, sociologists, political scientists, psychologists etc.) to engage corporations in field experiments and clinical research. The goal is to understand how to improve and speed up the pace of business transformation to sustainable enterprises.
While many graduating MBA students are still heading to traditional sectors like finance, consulting and technology, one of the biggest trends among top business schools is an increase in the diversity of students’ career interests. Perhaps it’s related to fallout from the financial crisis or even a generational trend, but more and more students are pursuing positions in a broader array of areas.
At MIT Sloan, about 60% of our MBA graduates in the past few years have gone to those traditional areas. Among our other MBA students, we are indeed seeing this trend toward diverse interests. Strong areas of focus for that group include: entrepreneurship; sustainability; energy; social enterprise; health care; operations and supply chain management; and entertainment, media and sports.