Business School goes green, gets rank

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The Aspen Institute ranked GW’s School of Business 13th on its list of schools that effectively integrate social and environmental stewardship into their curricula and research.

“For the last seven or eight years we have been offering these courses and traditionally ranked very high,” said Prabir Bagchi, senior associate dean in the School of Business. “We have been very active (in looking at) ways to collaborate more to reinforce our position as a top place to go for top sustainability management.”

The Aspen Institute, which releases the report every two years, said the rankings are based on four specific fields – student exposure, student opportunity, course content and faculty research. The rankings were calculated based on extensive research conducted over an 18-month period.

GW also ranked sixth in the world for student opportunity. The school offers 65 different classes the Aspen Institute considers sustainability-related.

Despite GW’s 13th place world ranking in 2007, the reports from both 2003 and 2005 show that GW was then ranked sixth in the world.

“I think it’s important to note that GW is not going backwards, but we are losing ground to other schools. We ranked second among small programs,” said Sarah Tuntland, an MBA student and the president of GW Net Impact.

“I’ve taken three sustainability courses. In one class we looked at how business decisions not only effect your business, but social and economic issues around you,” she said.

Bagchi said the slip in ranking is due to the fact that more schools are now being included in the survey. In 2005, roughly 90 schools were included in the report while the 2007 report included 127 schools.

Stanford, Michigan, York, Berkley and Notre Dame universities were the top five schools. Georgetown ranked significantly lower at 73rd place.

Mark Starik, head of the business school’s strategic management and public policy department, said he has spearheaded the efforts to maintain GW’s high ranking.

“I think more departments throughout the university could offer more sustainability-dedicated courses at all levels and could incorporate more sustainability topics, projects and guests in all courses, including those which are required,” Starik said. “I do know that these have increased in number in the GWSB and that most of the GW schools have some sustainability courses.”

“While these rankings are useful, it is the actual courses and research behind the rankings that is most important,” Starik said. “We’ve done well over time in the BGP program, but the most important thing is for us to continue to provide an ever-improving educational experience to our students.”

University President Steven Knapp started a sustainability task force this fall comprised of students, faculty and staff as a way to look at GW’s environmental policies, research and course offerings. The task force is set to make a recommendation to the University by June.

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