Attention: New certificate requirements are in effect starting fall 2013. Compliance with these is required for students who have not completed the old certificate requirements by the end of spring 2014. Until then, compliance is optional, and students may receive the certificate by fulfilling the old requirements. Please refer to tabs "NEW Required Coursework" and "OLD Required Coursework" for further information.
GOAL: Provide graduate students the fundamental knowledge and skills to sustainably manage enterprises that integrate economic, environmental, and social dimensions into their decision-making.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: Graduate students from any school on the University of Wisconsin- Madison campus.
OVERVIEW: The Graduate Certificate in Business, Environment, and Social Responsibility (BESR) offers a suite of courses addressing the interrelations between business and its natural and social environment.
Certificate students will acquire knowledge of:
- Causes of environmental and social challenges as relating to business, and respective policy and business responses
- Frameworks and measurement systems for incorporating sustainability concerns into business analysis and decision-making
- Domains in which business activities and sustainability concerns intersect, and the management of these intersections
Certificate students will acquire fundamental skills to:
- Analyze the causes of and responses to environmental and social problems, as well as develop and implement solutions to these problems as managers and policymakers
- Identify and apply frameworks for effectively incorporating sustainability considerations into the analysis and decision-making of managers and policymakers
- Analyze where and how environmental and social issues intersect with business, as well as develop and implement solutions for managing these intersections
As determined by each student’s individual course path, students will acquire deeper knowledge and skills in select domains such as systems designs, risk management, green real estate, and more. Students are also encouraged to participate in a variety of events and activities that provide a forum to exchange ideas and connect the business community with students and faculty interested in sustainability.
The BESR certificate is one example of the Wisconsin School of Business’ efforts to develop and disseminate insights into sustainability related issues. In the 2009-2010 Beyond Grey Pinstripes survey, the Wisconsin School of Business was ranked 17th in the world in business schools committed to environmental and social stewardship.
The coursework outlined below is in effect starting fall 2013. Compliance with this coursework is required for students who have not completed the old certificate requirements by the end of spring 2014. Until then, compliance is strongly encouraged but optional, and students may still receive the certificate by fulfilling the old requirements. Please refer to the tab "OLD Required Coursework" for further information.
The required foundation course, advanced business sustainability coursework, and electives from across the campus need to tally a minimum of 12 credits. The slate of coursework options available for fulfilling the certificate program is shown in the table below. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in related non-credit sustainability experiences via competitions, conferences, and speaker events.
The foundation course has no prerequisites and is open to all graduate students on campus. Students will: 1) take one required foundation course (MHR 765 – Sustainable Enterprise Management, 2) choose at least three (3) additional credits from a list of Wisconsin School of Business advanced business sustainability coursework, and 3) select up to six (6) credits of additional courses from other elective coursework.
Required Foundational Coursework(3 credits):
MHR 765: Sustainable Enterprise Management (spring)
Wisconsin School of Business - Advanced Business Sustainability Classes (choose at least 3 credits from list):
- OTM 770: Sustainable Approaches to System Improvement (fall/spring)
- OTM 860: Sustainable Design of Products, Services and Systems (spring; alternates with OTM 861)
- OTM 861: Embedding Sustainable Strategy (spring; alternates with OTM 860)
- RE 651: Green – Sustainable Property Development (spring)
- RMI 650: Sustainability, Environmental, and Social Risk Management (fall)
Other Elective Coursework (Up to 6 credits from other elective coursework can be counted towards the required 12 certificate credits):a
- ACCT 700: Financial Accounting
- ACCT 710: Managerial Accounting
- GEN BUS 600: Topics on Sustainable Business Practices
- GEN BUS 601: Systems Thinking and Sustainable Businesses
- FIN 700: Introduction to Financial Management
- MHR 728: Negotiations
- MHR 723: Business Strategy
- MKT 700: Marketing Management
- OTM 700: Operations Management
- OTM 732: Economics for Management
- RMI 700: Principles of Risk Management
- RMI/GEN BUS 701: Managing Legal Risks
- TRAN PU 671: Energy Economics
- AAE 531: Natural Resource Economics
- AAE 643: Foundations of Environmental Economics
- AAE 729: The Microdynamics of Environment and Development
- AAE 760: Dynamic Natural Resource Economics
- AAE 762: Environmental Economics
- F&W ECOL 652: Decision Methods for Natural Resource Managers
- URB R PL 734: Regional Economic Problem Analysis
- URB R PL 841: Urban Functions, Spatial Organization, and Environmental Form
- URB R PL 865: Water Resources Institutions and Policies
- URB R PL 843: Land Use Policy and Planning
- ENVIR ST 575: Assessment of Environmental Impact
- ENVIR ST 707: Professional Skills for Global Systems Analysis (1 credit)
- EPD 660: Core Competencies of Sustainability
- EPD 661: Industrial Ecology: Sustainability Tools in Context
- LAW 848: Introduction to Environmental Law
- LAW 845: Water Rights Law
- LAW 989: Environmental Law and Practice
- LAW 988: Select Prbls. in Environmental Law: "Natural Resources Law"
- LAW 988: Select Prbls. in Environmental Law: "Agricultural Law & the Environment"
- LAW 981: Select Prbls. in International Law: "International Environmental Law & Policy"
- LAW 981: Select Prbls. in International Law: "Climate Change, Human Rights & the Environment"
- PUB AFFR 881: Benefit-Cost Analysis
- PUB AFFR 866: Global Environmental Governance
|Medicine and Public Health
- POP HLTH 740: Health Impact Assessment of Global Environmental Change
a: The list of electives is dynamic and will be adjusted as new courses are being offered and others dropped. Students may request to substitute listed electives with courses that are currently not listed. Such a request requires that the student explains how the substitute class meets the learning outcomes of the certificate and assists the student in reaching his or her individual goals for taking the certificate. The request requires approval by the certificate director in coordination with the Certificate Oversight Committee.
b: For courses with access restricted to Wisconsin School of Business students, non-business school students may select equivalent open-access lower-level courses numbered 300 and above (e.g., substitute MHR 723 with MHR 423).
Extracurricular Activities (Certificate students are encouraged, but not required, to engage in extracurricular activities that enhance the certificate’s learning outcomes.) These include:
- Speaker events such as the Business Sustainability Speaker Series and Weston Lecture Series
- Competitions such as Walmart’s Sustainable Business Plan Competition and Burrill Business Plan Competition
- Conferences such as the Nelson’s Institute Annual Earth Day conference and Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council Conference
Until the end of spring 2014, students may receive the certificate by fulfilling the coursework outlined below. Certificate students who have not completely met these requirements by the end of spring 2014 need to fulfill the requirements as described in the tab "NEW Required Coursework."
Students are required to complete a total of 12 credits to fulfill the requirements of the BESR certificate.
A minimum of 6 credits must be taken from the follow BESR-focused courses. Please click on the course title for a brief description of the class.*
- Gen Bus 600 - Business, Development & the Environment (3 Credits)
- RMI 650 - Sustainability, Environmental and Social Risk Management (3 credits)
- OTM 770 - Sustainable Approaches to System Improvement
- Gen Bus 765 - Clean Tech Community Forum (1 credit Speaker Series)
- Gen Bus 601 - Systems Thinking and Sustainable Businesses (3 credits)
- RE 651 - Green – Sustainable Property Development (3 credits)
- OTM 770 - Sustainable Approaches to System Improvement
- OTM 860 - Sustainable Design of Products, Services and Systems (alternates with OTM 861)
- OTM 861 - Embedding Sustainable Strategy (alternates with OTM 860)
- Gen Bus 765 - Clean Tech Community Forum (1 credit Speaker Series)
- MHR 765 - Sustainable Enterprise Management
Up to 6 credits from other elective coursework can be counted toward the required 12 certificate credits. Any graduate and undergraduate class offered by the Wisconsin School of Business qualifies for this elective coursework. Students are encouraged to assemble a course portfolio that best matches their interests and builds upon potential prior business knowledge. Non-business school students, for instance, might select foundational classes such as introductory accounting, finance, or marketing. Students with some business background are encouraged to choose more advanced or specialized classes. Note that access to some graduate classes offered by the Wisconsin School of Business is restricted to current MBA students.
Gen Bus 600 - Business, Development & the Environment
This course is for students interested in the sustainability, and the ways in which sustainability affects corporate behavior, public policy, and individual decision-making. It is clear that future leadership in the sustainability area will come from, and indeed must come from, the private sector. Many businesses are coming to the conclusion that it is in their best interest (meaning their bottom line can be improved) if they provide leadership in addressing a variety of societal problems. In addition to discussions regarding environmental issues, the class will serve as an introduction to the role that businesses are now playing with respect to issues involving people, communities and social justice/human rights.
The outline of new roles for corporations, regulatory agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), trade associations, and the public is being developed. This outline is premised on the belief that greater environmental and social gains can be achieved by the private sector through a process oriented around increasing efficiencies, preventing the creation of waste, and more meaningful involvement of all interested and affected parties. Since effective corporate management will mean learning to work with all stakeholders, this course seeks a mix of students, representing varying perspectives and disciplines.
Gen Bus 601 - Systems Thinking and Sustainable Businesses
This course covers the relationship between systems thinking and the concept of sustainability. Systems thinking—seeing the underlying structures that drive our behavior and the interconnections in our world—is a key management skill for the 21st century. Understanding the power of structure can help leaders unlock their organization's potential and avoid unintended consequences. Though this is not solely a class about society's growing interest in corporations (both from a social and environmental perspective), it is clear that business plays a central role in our progress (or our lack of progress) toward sustainability. The market remains the most effective means we know of to allocate scarce and valuable resources in ways that maximize social outcomes.
This class brings together Business School students with students from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies (and other schools and programs on campus) to understand how and where to intervene in existing systems in order to bring about institutional change. The class is case study based and focuses on how to bring about sustainable change in an organization. It has been organized to give you better insights into how sustainable development can be a part of most decisions that are made, whether at the individual lifestyle level or at the organizational level. The key benefits of the class include:
- understanding sustainable development as an important element of business practices and a value driver
- seeing how environmental and social issues are an integral (and complex) part of the landscape in which business operates
- learning about emerging trends in socially responsible investment that are pushing sustainable development further into mainstream investing, and
- appreciate the inter-relatedness of business systems and natural systems
Gen Bus 765 - The CleanTech Community
The Clean Tech Thought Leader Community Forum introduces the Business, Environment & Social Responsibility (BESR) community to thought leaders working on the many front lines of clean technology, including technical fields (wind, solar, hydropower, biofuels, green construction, transportation) and non-technical fields (entrepreneurialism, investment, public policy, marketing and even job-hunting). Through the forum series, we provide information and networking opportunities to UW students and the Madison Community. We provide stories from practitioners in the field on challenges they've met, trends they see and the successes they've realized. Our goal is to inspire discussion, allow relationships to develop and further the understanding of what is happening around Wisconsin.
RE 651 - Green — Sustainable Property Development
This course is intended for students who have an interest in:
- the Green and sustainable aspects of housing and commercial property development and operation
- the re-use and / or rehabilitation of existing structures
- redevelopment of historic buildings into housing or commercial space
- related special topics such as financing sources, tax issues, financial structuring, legal issues and energy cost management
The course will acquaint you with both the approach, and the necessary tools such as financing, government programs and regulations, that a successful developer will need to understand in order to succeed.
MHR 365/765 - Environmental Business Strategy
This course explores the relationship between firm environmental performance and competitive advantage. Students will learn about issues of assessing firm environmental performance, develop an understanding of how to analyze and leverage possible links between firm environmental and financial performance, and learn how firms can pursue a set of non-market strategies to influence regulatory frameworks to benefit both a firm's position and its natural environment. The class focuses on case discussions and theoretical background readings, supported with occasional class speakers, to provide students with an appropriate balance of know what, why and how for addressing issues in the realm of environmental business strategy.
RMI 650 - Sustainability, Environmental and Social Risk Management
Sustainability, Environmental and Social Risk Management has grown in importance as individuals, businesses, governments and societies have become increasingly concerned about the state of our environment and how best to manage and relate to our environment. More recently, social responsibility risks, which deal with the unfair and inequitable treatment of workers, communities and people of other countries, have emerged. RMI 650, Sustainability, Environmental and Social Risk Management, examines existing and emerging environmental and social responsibility risks and designing and implementing risk management programs for controlling and financing these risks.
OTM 770 - Quality and Productivity Improvement (Leadership for Improvement of Complex Systems: Sustainable Perspectives)
This course discusses sustainable approaches to group-based improvement of multifunctional systems involving several stakeholders with diverse wants and needs. Such improvement requires simultaneous resolution of several objectives, often related to the natural environment, reputation and brands, profits, customer satisfaction, cost, response time, quality, work life, efficiency or technology. The course involves a leadership perspective and addresses both philosophical and methodological approaches to sustainable improvement. Topics include strategic contextual analysis, formulation and communication of mutually beneficial objectives, measurement, systems and cause analysis, and implementation issues. Approaches considered include six and green sigma, quality improvement processes, consensus building involving communication and political approaches, flow and infrastructure development, system stratification, theory of constraints, cost value analysis, system simulation and learning, and approaches driven by the natural world.
OTM 860 - Planning for Quality in New Products and Services (Sustainable Perspectives to Design and Innovation) (alternating with OTM 861)
This course discusses sustainable breakthrough design principles and methods and their deployment into organizational systems for creating new products and services. Topics include analysis of the natural world, markets, customers and technology for design purposes, product and service strategy, deployment into early stage design, infrastructure assessment and development, analysis and development of supply chains and customer chains, and prototype testing. Methodology includes design for the environment, life cycle assessment; product based environmental systems, design for six sigma, design for modularity, design for reuse, inverse manufacturing, design for disassembly, cradle to cradle and cross-cycle design, biomimicry, quality function deployment (qfd) and environmental qfd. Design targets may be services, products, systems or the built environment.
Strategic Breakthrough Management & Quality Planning (Sustainable Approaches to Strategic Breakthrough) (alternating with OTM 860)
This course discusses strategic breakthrough that supports both an organization's mission and its journey toward sustainability, with emphasis on deployment into organizational operations and practices. In contrast to strategic formulation that occurs primarily at the top of an organization, this course focuses on the infrastructure development and deployment of breakthrough objectives and strategies at each level of an organization's operations, from routine management to product development and other cross functional activities. In order for an organization to sustain itself and improve, when operating within an environment that is rapidly changing, the organization must be able to conduct coordinated breakthrough and innovation at both local and organization-wide levels. Although sustainability can include competitive and positioning strategies, breakthrough is more focused on innovation and new 'blue ocean' paradigms that leapfrog competitors and dwarf traditional strategic approaches. Sustainable breakthrough requires a systems approach, development of effective communication networks, strategic planning that accounts for emerging strategy, linked action, leadership throughout the organization, measurement, and organizational learning. Topics include sustainability approaches; analyses of the natural world and the environment; infrastructure development; deployment approaches and styles; integration into daily practices; and development of employees and learning systems. Methods include hoshin kanri and policy deployment, deployment tools such as A3, deployment technology, and measurement.
* A student may not use the same advanced Wisconsin School of Business course/BESR focused course to acquire two certificates from the Wisconsin SChool of Business (e.g., RMI 650 — Sustainability, Environmental and Social Risk Management and OTM 860 - Sustainable Design of Products, Services and Systems cannot be counted for more than one certificate).
Thank you for your interest in the Graduate Certificate in Business, Environment and Social Responsibility. Before you begin your application, please gather the information listed below.
- A list of your previous degrees including institution, degree, major, date granted and GPA for each degree
- Your scores and percentiles for all applicable graduate school admission tests
- Your current GPA
- Your advisor's name and email
- The semester you plan to begin the certificate
For your application to be approved, it is required that you gain consent from your faculty advisor (or, where appropriate, graduate program coordinator) to participate in the BESR certificate. Please have your advisor send an email to the certificate director at email@example.com confirming this consent.
Further note that your application automatically serves as a declaration of your intent to pursue the certificate. This declaration will become part of your academic record.
Proceed with Application
The following individuals welcome any questions that you may have about the Graduate Certificate in Business, Environment, and Social Responsibility.
Director, BESR Certificate
4261 Grainger Hall
Wisconsin School of Business
- Seth Block, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies Student Representative
- Gregory DeCroix, Wisconsin Naming Partnership Professor, Department of Operations and Information Systems
- Mark Finster, Associate Professor, Operations and Information Management
- John McKenna, MBA Student Representative
- Joan Schmit, American Family Insurance Professor of Risk Management and Insurance, Department of Actuarial Science, Risk Management & Insurance
- Ann Terlaak, Associate Professor, Department of Management and Human Resources, Director, BESR Certificate