By Christina Meinberg, CRB Associate DirectorGroup of Students Studying About Global Issues

We are headed into fall but in some ways it feels like spring to me, at the CRB. Here’s why:

We have just been through an intensive and awesome re-building period. After seven months as Interim Co-Executive Director of the CRB, I am proud to announce that we have two new team members who bring incredible depth to our team given their strengths in both academia and sustainable business. Kate Alper and Robert Strand, we’re so glad you’re here. We plan to eventually bring on 1-2 fellows who will contribute further to this bench strength.

In short, we have been busy. We have been planting seeds that are starting to turn into trees…

Planting the Seeds for a Sustainable Society

As acknowledged in our inaugural “report on progress” to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), Berkeley-Haas is preparing the next generation of society’s leaders for a sustainable future.

We have long been a Center that equips future business innovators with the tools, knowledge and abilities to generate sustainable value, although our course offerings have tripled since I began in my position at the CRB. We are now more than ever preparing our students for an increasingly unpredictable and changing world by offering a dozen courses across 3 degree programs, ranging from intrapreneurship for sustainability to stakeholder engagement to impact investing to sustainable business consulting, women in business, global mega-trends and more.

What does this look like? Our undergrads are developing new models for sustainable value creation as I write, in our flagship sustainability consulting course. They are working with companies such as Peet’s, Disney, Levi’s, PVH and others to tackle core business issues such as supply chain efficiencies, waste reduction, and employee retention and wellness.

Meanwhile, our graduate students are preparing strategies to drive internal change at Facebook, through our Intrapreneurship for Sustainability course.

Collaborating for Impact

This past June, I was delighted to take part in the 2014 Sustainability Centres Community Workshop held at Harvard Business School. This group is changing the mindset from a competitive one to a collaborative group of people who can collectively find answers to questions that are being raised, so that we as management educators are not approaching them alone, as individuals.  Network for Business Sustainability (NBS) is mobilizing this. During the meeting we shared advice for addressing common challenges in teaching, research, outreach and administration and concluded by scoping opportunities for ongoing collaboration. I am now a part of a collaboration group that identifies skills and competencies needed for sustainability education.

Catalyzing Research

The CRB acts as a convener and brings together scientists, engineers and business people to develop and implement new ideas and business models. We are co-creating with companies such as Kimberly-Clark, Cisco and Dow who are working on business solutions to global challenges. Look for our annual Sustainable Products and Solutions annual report, to be released within a few months.

Additionally, our expert panel of judges is currently in the trenches reviewing 40 papers that were submitted for this year’s 19th annual Moskowitz prize for scholarship in socially responsible investing, to be awarded at the SRI Conference in November.

Technology, Transparency & Values

Last but not least, the CRB is just weeks away from hosting some exciting conversations with an industry that intrigues us: technology.  This semester, we will spark dialogue and debate around the topic of transparency and values in the tech sector, through our Peterson Series. Sign up to join us on 9/30, 10/9 and 11/17 to hear from business professionals at Nest, BSR, Intel, HP, Silver Springs Networks and Responsible Sourcing Network.

Catching The Wonder of Spring

Bike traffic across campus has picked up, fresh ideas are in the air, whiteboards are looking colorful…  Do you, too, feel the spring in the air? With a new team and new passion for what lies ahead, fall (the new spring?) is a time of wonder here on campus.

I hope you’ll join us and sit in on a class, ask open-ended questions that have many possible answers, and explore solutions to pressing challenges. Sometimes the best way to drink in the wonders of spring is just be open to new experiences and observe.

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