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Faculty Integrate Sustainability In Business Courses

Left to right, Ph.D. student Alexander Gloss, Professor Paul Mulvey and Assistant Professor Jeff Pollack.

Think entrepreneurship is just about starting a business?

NC State Assistant Professor Jeff Pollack suggests otherwise in his Introduction to Entrepreneurship course, which began utilizing sustainability as a major theme in fall 2016.

“Entrepreneurship is not just about starting businesses; it’s about creating value,” Pollack said. “If I integrate sustainability, I can get to the point of students not seeing entrepreneurship as starting a business but as creating value.”

Pollack embeds sustainability throughout the course’s readings, guest lecturers and other content. As students learn about value creation, they study organizational leaders who have advanced sustainability, as well as ethical and responsible management practices. The course culminates in students developing and pitching a product or business idea.

“Their pitch is on how their solution addresses sustainability problems,” Pollack said. “It’s been very engaging for the students. Integrating sustainability in the class has been a wonderful opportunity and has helped me achieve my goal.”

Pollack’s integration of sustainability has also helped advance Poole College of Management’s effort to raise awareness of sustainability among students. Since 2013, the college’s Business Sustainability Collaborative (BSC) has offered annual curriculum development grants to faculty who infuse sustainability into new or existing courses.

“What we’ve found is that our students are really interested in sustainability,” said BSC faculty director Rosanna Garcia, who is also an associate professor of marketing. “What [many faculty members] are already teaching can include a sustainability component.”

So far, the grant has helped 16 Poole College faculty develop sustainability content in subjects ranging from accounting to marketing.

Professor Paul Mulvey and Ph.D. student Alexander Gloss used a curriculum grant to create a six-hour curriculum module on corporate social responsibility (CSR). Though many businesses have adopted CSR strategies and practices, traditional business textbooks feature limited CSR content.

“CSR has not yet made it’s way into mainstream [human resources] organizational behavior,” Mulvey said.

Mulvey and Gloss created a multimedia primer on CSR, including videos, case studies and other interactive elements that could be used in an online class or as supplement to an in-person course. Already the content has been used in the Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Department’s Introduction to Business course and Human Resources Management course.

“Students have enjoyed these multimedia experiences,” Gloss said. “We get students thinking about the role of business in society because that’s the heart of CSR.”

Mulvey and Gloss plan to continue improving the CSR module and aim for it to be integrated into additional courses.

This post was originally published in Sustainability News.