The School of Business has become the first school in the country to offer a graduate-level Certificate in Responsible Management, modeled after the United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education.
Announced to business school students last week, the program already has four participants committed so far. The certificate program, which was a brainchild of a professor and an MBA student, stresses socially and environmentally responsible business.
"This is a manifestation of the sentiment that GW School of Business students don't just talk about integrity and responsibility, but incorporate these values into action," said Ari Isaacman, an MBA student and the program's co-founder.
Isaacman and John Forrer, coordinator for the Institute for Corporate Responsibility, came up with the idea for the certificate after attending the U.N. conference on responsible management.
"I hope that once [students] are done with their degree and go out and study, it will be kind of an extra bonus for employees to see that this is someone who is committed to this area and spent the hours and extra time in order to earn this certificate," Forrer said.
To receive the certificate, students must fulfill classroom, service and extracurricular requirements, and document the process on a blog.
Joe Annotti, one of the students already signed up for the program, is working with the nonprofit Junior Achievement to fulfill the community service requirement. Last week he gave a lecture at Riverside High School on college loans and other aspects of financial literacy.
"This certificate is almost built out of necessity in the sense that with everything that is going on with the economy and the Enrons and the problems of the world, it's really going to allow students to prove to their employers that they possess this knowledge of responsible management," he said.
Isaacman hopes to sign up between 10 and 20 MBA students this year.
"I would say that the 2011 MBA class will be sort of the pioneer of the entire class having access to the certificate and they'll have the time from the beginning of the MBA to earn the certificate," she said.
Forrer noted that students who choose to participate in this program will have a strong interest in the area of social responsibility and be self-motivated.
"Since we're just starting, the task now is to get the word out amongst all the students and then to have it grow and develop at the School of Business," he said. "If it goes well and the students have good experience from it, it might be a model that other business schools look at."