Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility

An overview of Smeal programs and capability in sustainability practices.

For more than 60 years, Penn State Executive Programs has been preparing leaders who can interpret the environment, seek out new opportunities, and rally those around them.

We have turned this tradition of excellence toward the greatest business opportunity of our time:  the challenge of achieving growth while providing quality of life for people on a planet with finite resources.  It goes by many names:  “sustainability,” “ESG (environmental social governance),” “corporate social responsibility,” “corporate citizenship,” “stewardship” and many others.

Our focus is on strategic sustainability: a broad understanding of the costs, risks, opportunities and obligations of leadership and business growth. And we don’t just think it’s good business. Our research and tracking of best practices proves it is good business.

OUR VERY BEST FOR YOU: Powered by the internationally ranked Smeal College of Business, a faculty that ranks among the best in the world for academic excellence, Fortune 500 industry partnerships with sustainability innovators, a network of distinguished research centers within Smeal and around Penn State, such as the Center for Supply Chain Research, Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment, and Sustainability Institute, we are uniquely positioned to deliver innovative learning engagements that address your multi-dimensional environmental and social innovation opportunities.

Smeal at Your Service

With over 30 faculty across all departments doing research in sustainability, an active Sustainability Advisory Board and Sustainability Council, Smeal is fully committed to incorporating strategic sustainability in everything we do. The college hosts the National MBA Sustainability Case Competition, offers a two-piece course sequence in sustainability, features a nationally award-winning Net Impact student group, and offers Leading Edge Sustainability Research Grants to further advance cutting edge research.

In Penn State Executive Programs, sustainability is a key ingredient for building great companies.  We serve leaders and their teams in two ways:

Custom Learning Initiatives

The Penn State approach uses our proprietary Strategic Sustainability Accelerator designed to quickly move a company to focused, high-impact action that drives business value. The Accelerator helps cut through the noise and complexity of voluntary programs, reporting requirements, certifications, and endless jargon.  From CDP to GRI to LEED to SASB and beyond, organizations can get stuck reacting to the complexity instead of proactively driving towards a new understanding of profitability. 

Specifically, the Accelerator ensures that:

  • Sustainability is linked to an overall strategic imperative, corporate mission, and core capabilities
  • Sustainability is integrated with strategic initiatives to avoid “initiative overload”
  • Time and resources are invested in the right activities
  • Learning is accelerated by leveraging industry best-practices and emerging trends

Ultimately, our goal is to strengthen your company’s strategic engagement with sustainability as a source of competitive advantage, profitability, new product development, employee engagement and talent recruitment.

Open-Enrollment Programs

We provide short, non-degree learning experiences that help leaders develop the strategic sustainability mindset and skill set needed to:

  • Identify and measure the organization’s material environmental and social costs, risks, opportunities and obligations
  • Execute effective strategies, bolster ability to make a sound financial case for sustainability, and leverage the culture and social dynamics within the organization
  • Build a sustainable supply chain from supplier assessment to protecting human/labor rights to advanced strategies for reverse logistics and the circular economy
  • Engage with leading faculty and practitioner executives who deliver relevant content that prepares you to confront your firm’s critical challenges
  • Grow your career and increase the value you bring to your organization

Can You Bring This to My Company?

Yes! Programs can be tailored and targeted toward the unique needs of your business to provide a more customized experience for leadership teams.

Upcoming Programs

Building a Sustainable Supply Chain

Traditional supply chain fundamentals are necessary but not sufficient in understanding and strategically managing new risks and opportunities in the realm of sustainability.  Driving this change is a combination of pressures from customers, suppliers, competitors, employees, regulations, and resource constraints.  This program is designed to equip supply chain leaders with the latest tools, concepts, and business practices for managing an environmentally and economically sustainable supply chain.

Professional Certificate in Supply Chain Leadership

This certificate provides the ability to leverage a holistic supply chain approach to increase efficiency across the enterprise and entire supply chain. If you are in a senior supply chain executive role or related field that works closely with the supply chain in developing strategy, this certificate is ideal for you. Building a Sustainable Supply Chain is one of the courses you can take towards your certificate.

Strategic Sustainability Leadership (coming Fall 2017)
The days are gone when sustainability/CS was left on the edges of a business and regarded as cost to be managed or a charitable act when there is money leftover. Today’s most forward-looking and innovative enterprises included sustainability within core business strategy.  Driving this change is a monumental undertaking and skill in change leadership is required.  This open enrollment program will featured current executives and top researchers who will provide you with powerful tools and examples for sustainable strategy development and hard-won lessons on what it takes to drive organizational change.


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