15.972 | Spring 2010 | Graduate

Professional Seminar in Sustainability


1 Course overview and sports/recreation

Speaker: Mike Richter, Partner, Enviromental Capital Partners

We begin with Mike Richter (Stanley Cup winning goalie for the Rangers), and his current work on the NHL’s (National Hockey League) sustainability profile. We start with him because he represents an industry and function that is very atypical for MIT Sloan — to set a foundation that sustainability is applicable in a much broader context than we are typically aware of.

2 Entrepreneurship and sustainability

Speaker: Rolf Carlson, VP of R and D and Purchasing, Stonyfield Farm

We move on to an entrepreneur who has started a business (or businesses) with some aspect of sustainability central to the business model. Why start a new organization? How much interest - and financial and other support - was available because of the focus on sustainability? What are its prospects going forward - will the company be helped or harmed by recent national or international political, social, and economic events?

3 Recap and looking forward

Speaker: none

At this point we review our first two sessions, which have been focused strictly in the business world. Highlighting the differences between what Stonyfield is doing and what the NHL (and professional sports in general) is trying to do, we will ask what we have learned. What are the lessons from these two discussions? We will then lay out the framework that will be used moving forward with the remaining sessions.

4 Nonprofit organization to facilitate business teams

Speaker: Victoria Mills, Managing Director, EDF, Corporate Partnerships Program

Our next guest leads a non-profit organization that is working with a portfolio of businesses to help them adapt and change their business models to be more sustainable in the marketplace. What leverage does the nonprofit have to facilitate inter-organizational partnerships and to enact change? What are the general objectives of these partnerships and where have they been more (and least) successful?

5 Teams of businesses

Speaker: Andy Mangan, Executive Director, US Business Council for Sustainable Development

A representative from a team of businesses, whose leaders have come together to address the issues on a broader scale, will address the overall purpose of changing the whole industries at once, and will focus on the high level leadership required to change entire sectors of the economy. How and why did the team of businesses form - what was the impetus? What have been the unexpected dynamics - and successes - of this team approach? Will the partnership continue to affect change after the specific issue is addressed?

6 Intersection of business, government, and nonprofit for policy

Speaker: Executive Director, Nonprofit Convening and Standards Group

As a leader in bringing together multiple disparate organizations at the intersection of business, government, and non-profits, our guest focuses on the policy development and outcomes that set the stage for business and consumers to interact in a more sustainable manner over the long term. How do these different types of organizations develop a common set of objectives and strategies to address sustainability in the policy arena? Does the approach change when policy focus shifts from local to national to international realms?

7 Change the world and have fun - conclusion

Speaker: None

Not only must we be good, but we must also be good for something. ~Henry David Thoreau

In our final session together, we will examine where each of us stands in contributing to changing the world, and the excitement and enjoyment of being engaged in the intellectual challenge as well as the core human values - engaging both the head and heart. We’ll conclude with a reflection on the topics covered by the speakers this semester. What are the opportunities for professional activities in sustainability-related fields?

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2010