Sustainability

Students Timothy Madden and Gabriela Cordoba Vivas at a farmer's market.

One team of UB Social Impact Fellows helped Journey's End Refugee Services develop a business plan to enhance its urban farming program, Green Shoots for New Americans. Photo: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki

Sustainability is good for the planet—and good for the bottom line.

In the UB School of Management, sustainability means thinking big and working together to make change that positively impacts our community and planet.

For example, as climate change threatens to impact nearly every aspect of society—including food and water sourcing, public health, housing and transportation—faculty members are researching how organizations, from small businesses to global firms, can improve their environmental performance and be part of the solution. In the classroom, our students learn why sustainability makes smart business sense, and use their skills to help nonprofits in a range of areas. 

Here at the School of Management, as part of our strategic focus on social innovation, we have integrated sustainability into a variety of courses, programs, research and partnerships. Below are a few examples.

Teaching

Through undergraduate and graduate courses, students can gain a deeper understanding of climate change and its impact on business strategy and operations. 

Sustainable operations

To truly reduce their environmental footprint, organizations need to look beyond their office walls. Companies must thoroughly examine their operations and supply chains—from how they acquire, warehouse and transport raw materials, to how they manufacture products, to how customers use and eventually discard those products. In the “Sustainable Operations” course, students learn strategies to ensure both profitability and social responsibility, including many tools that measure a supply chain’s environmental impact, such as life cycle assessment, carbon footprinting, environmental legislation, recycling and remanufacturing, energy efficiency, eco-certifications and more.

The course is required for graduate students in the MS in Operations and Supply Chain Management program and is an elective for undergraduates with an operations and supply chain management concentration.

Sustainability as a business strategy

Four PMBA present their project; a PowerPoint presentation shows a world map and the words "Opportunity Knocks.".

In this Professional MBA elective, students get a hands-on look at why addressing climate change isn’t just the right thing to do—it makes smart business sense. Working in teams, PMBA students develop an idea or company to advance one of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, and create a concept paper, short video pitch and a longer live pitch to sell their idea to a panel of judges.

Management and sustainable development

As part of UB’s new Advanced Certificate in Sustainability, Debu Talukdar, professor of marketing, created the graduate-level elective “Business Management Implications of Sustainable Development.” The class is also offered as an elective in UB’s MA in Sustainability Leadership program.

Research

In their research, School of Management faculty question theories and bring new perspectives to pressing challenges—including sustainability and climate change.

Clean energy tech

Aditya Vedantam headshot.

Aditya Vedantam, assistant professor of operations management and strategy, explores the environmental impact of firm operations, including sustainable procurement, green product design and reverse logistics. He’s currently studying clean energy technology in collaboration with the U.S Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute. His research also analyzes manufacturers’ recycled-content claims and how environmentally preferable purchasing can stimulate demand for recycled-content products.

In addition, Vedantam is an affiliated faculty member with UB RENEW, an interdisciplinary hub for education and research on energy, environment and water. He has delivered seminars, both in person and online, to a variety of organizations, including the local chapter of the local chapter of the Institute of Supply Management and the UB Alumni Association.

The high cost of being poor

Debu Talukdar in a supermarket.

The United Nations’ sustainable development goals lay out global priorities for sustainability—and serve as a framework for how UB approaches sustainability too. In his research, Debu Talukdar, professor of marketing, explores social and economic issues related to these goals. He has studied the high costs of living in Nairobi’s slums and published research with The World Bank showing how several Kenyan cities do not provide universal access to basic infrastructure. Talukdar has presented his findings at the Sustainability and Development Conference, among other forums.

In addition, Talukdar is also affiliated with UB RENEW and has studied consumer behavior related to sustainability—specifically, how economic policies impact help or hinder sustainable economic development by shifting consumer or industry behavior. His research has been cited by scholars in economics, environmental policy, public health, law, management and other fields.

Eco-innovation

Richard Kraude headshot.

In his research, Richard Kraude, assistant professor of management science and systems, has demonstrated that greater corporate social performance can help companies attract superior employees and improve the organization’s reputation, market presence and intangible value. Now, Kraude is investigating the impact of vertical integration and eco-innovation on a company’s environmental performance.

Real-World Experiences

School of Management students can choose from a robust array of experiential learning opportunities— locally and around the globe—to see firsthand how organizations can successfully incorporate sustainability into their mission and operations for a better world.

Sustainable coffee in Central America

Sarah Baxter, BS ’18, at the Coopedota Coffee Cooperative.

As part of the school’s growing array of global programs, students can experience sustainable business practices in action in Costa Rica. Past trips have taken students inside Coopedota, where they discussed social innovation with the leaders of the world’s first carbon-neutral coffee cooperative.

Giving back

First-year MBA students Kristen Sharkey and Dana Musil pull up weeds at the old Campus North PS 63.

Newly arrived first-year MBAs hit the ground running to help with the annual Western New York Day of Caring organized by United Way of Buffalo and Erie County.

Stitching together a solution

Shannon Lach, Kristie Bailey and Xingyu Chen work at Stitch Buffalo.

During the Social Impact Fellows program, students from business, social work and other disciplines work together to address social issues at local organizations. One team, for example, explored ethical and sustainable fashion and fair labor practices, while helping the nonprofit Stitch Buffalo improve its business processes.

Partners in Progress

The School of Management works collaboratively within the UB and Western New York communities, and with organizations around the world, to help develop sustainable solutions to today’s many challenges.

Our partners include: