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 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 710: Challenges and Solutions in Business Sustainability (Spring)
(Formerly listed as MHR 765: Sustainable Enterprise Management)

Wisconsin School of Business - Advanced Business Sustainability Classes (choose at least 3 credits from list):

  • OTM 770: Sustainable Approaches to System Improvement (fall)
  • 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

School Courses
  • ACCT 700/765: Financial Accounting
  • ACCT 710: Managerial Accounting
  • ACCT 771: Strategic Cost Accounting
  • FIN 700/765: Introduction to Financial Management
  • MHR 728: Negotiations
  • MHR 723: Business Strategy
  • MKT 700/765: Marketing Management
  • OTM 700/765: Operations Management
  • OTM 732: Economics for Management
  • RMI 700/765: 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 671: Energy 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/ECON 671: Energy Economics
  • 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
Nelson Institute
  • ENVIR ST 575: Assessment of Environmental Impact
  • ENVIR ST 671: Energy Economics
  • ENVIR ST 707: Professional Skills for Global Systems Analysis (1 credit)
  • ENVIR ST 977: Sustainable Development – An Integral Perspective
  • CIV ENGR 498: Construction Project Management
  • CIV ENGR 669: Lean Project Delivery
  • 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 918: Select Prbls. in International Law: "International Environmental Law & Policy"
  • LAW 918: Select Prbls. in International Law: "Climate Change, Human Rights & the Environment"
  • 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"
La Follette
  • 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
School of Education
  • C&I 975: Scholarship & Practice in Environmental & Sustainability Education

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

Mark Finster
Emeritus - Teaching
BS, Ph.D.

Ann Terlaak
Associate Professor
MA, Ph.D.

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 aterlaak@bus.wisc.edu 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.

The following individuals welcome any questions that you may have about the Graduate Certificate in Business, Environment, and Social Responsibility.

Director, BESR Certificate
Ann Terlaak
5297 Grainger Hall
Wisconsin School of Business
Website: http://bus.wisc.edu/faculty/ann-terlaak

Oversight Committee:

  • Gregory DeCroix, Wisconsin Naming Partnership Professor, Department of Operations and Information Systems
  • Najoua Jouini, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies Student Representative
  • Joan Schmit, Professor and Distinguished American Family Insurance Chair of Risk Management and Insurance, Department of Risk and Insurance
  • Ann Terlaak, Associate Professor, Department of Management and Human Resources, Director, BESR Certificate