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SCENE@CCSU: Business School launches sustainability institute


Monday, July 21, 2008 3:00 AM EDT

By DR. DREW HARRIS


The School of Business at Central Connecticut State University has embarked on an exciting new program related to environmental sustainability which will serve both public and private sectors in the state.

The program, called the Summer Institute for Sustainability, has 12 faculty members working on seven projects exploring various aspects of sustainability. The goal is to create a knowledge base and engage the Connecticut business community in finding and implementing more sustainable business practices and public policies.

Faculty will develop and produce a series of public seminars on best practices, leading theories, major challenges, and policy recommendations to be presented in fall 2008. Their findings will also be presented in a series of white papers that will be available in various media.

The institute was formed in response to the growing interest among organizations to engage in more sustainable business practices. By taking a multidisciplinary approach, the School of Business intends to demonstrate leadership for educators, businesses, and public servants. The challenges of creating a truly sustainable business environment demand a multidisciplinary perspective. To this end the institute began with a complex definition of sustainability:

Sustainability - living in such a way as to not reduce biodiversity, degrade ecosystems, create health hazards for humans and other creatures, and to do so in a way that does not diminish the capacity of future generations to enjoy health, prosperity and the wonders and bounty of nature. Sustainability incorporates environmental stewardship and renewal, as well as economic, social and intergenerational justice.

Faculty made competitive proposals to participate in the summer institute. The winning proposals covered a wide variety of topics: sustainability as a business strategy and entrepreneurial opportunity, accounting systems that reflect the full cost of environmental impact, lean manufacturing and accounting as a vehicle for improving environmental practices, creating a climate for a robust local economy, consumer response to green marketing, the greening of information technology and greening special events such as festival and fairs.

The projects focus on Connecticut and its business community, and the results will be integrated into a comprehensive, coordinated view of and for our state. Participants are currently contacting leading firms and governmental agencies seeking to identify best practices, major challenges, and ideas for public policy. When combined with the best of academic research and theory, the SIS hopes to be well positioned to serve both public and private sectors of Connecticut in finding solutions to environmental challenges and identifying opportunities for Connecticut firms to be leaders in creating processes, products and services to capitalize on global concerns for the environment.

The faculty participating in the SIS seeks to make this summer institute a permanent Institute for Sustainable Business Practices providing research, education, public service, and customized services for organizations and government. That will require external funding, and given the importance and timeliness of this topic, the School of Business is optimistic that a combination of grants, government funding, private gifts and corporate participation may be forthcoming.

As the coordinator of the institute, I invite anyone interested in participating or contributing to the work of the Institute to contact me at harrisdrl@ccsu.edu.

Dr. Drew Harris is associate professor of Management & Organization in the School of Business at Central Connecticut State University.
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