Courses

Over the course of three days, students in the Corporate Sustainability Leadership Program explore key concepts in sustainability and learn tools, techniques, and solutions for implementing environmentally and socially responsible business practices. A sampling of past course offerings is below.
 
Day One: The Strategic Importance and Value of Sustainability for Business
 
 
Day Two: Sustainability in the Organization, Building Your Sustainability Tool Kit
 
 
Day Three: Moving Forward, Tools for Making Sustainability Happen
 

 
Course Descriptions
 
Introductions and Strategic Networking
 
This session is designed to set the context and tone for the three-day institute. After a high-level overview of objectives and the schedule, a facilitated dialog will help participants learn more about the backgrounds and expertise of other participants.  This will help facilitate the development of a lasting professional network to help participants in their future sustainability-related initiatives. Network mapping, on a large scale will be a facet of this introductory session with the map remaining in the meeting room for the duration of the Institute so participants can continue to add connections to the map.
 
The Changing Global Context: Global Climate Change and Other Grand Challenges
 
This session will assist participants in understanding and interpreting the pressing global grand challenges we face as a planet and a society. This will include current climate research, with a focus on global climate change as well as growing population levels, resource consumption, water, global poverty and other sustainability related challenges. The session will end by making the connection between these challenges, the role that business can (and should play).
 
Defining Sustainability: From Concept to Action
 
This session is designed to establish the “big picture” of sustainability, specifically as it pertains to business. It will include building a shared conception and definition of sustainability, its context and history. It will further discuss why sustainability matters to businesses of all types and sizes, as well as the big themes related to the realities, opportunities and challenges of sustainability implementation. This session will help participants understand how companies take the large and complex concepts of sustainability and implement them at a practical level, including how they overcome ongoing challenges to implementation.
 
Materiality: Understanding Vulnerability and Building Resilience
 
Materiality analysis highlights the relative importance of specific environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues on a business, and is a valuable to strategic planning, operational management and capital investment decisions, allowing companies to understand their vulnerability. In particular, participants will have the chance to consider how and where their businesses are vulnerable to the changing climate and other sustainability related effects, how they need to adapt and mitigate, and how to ultimately build more resilient organizations.
 
Creating Shared Value: New Strategic Approaches to Connecting Business Success to Environmental and Societal Progress
 
Pioneered by Strategic Management thought leader, Michael Porter, Shared Value is a management principle that starts with the premise that companies can drive competitiveness and therefore profitable growth for their shareholders whilst also responding to world’s environmental and social problems. Rapidly gaining prominence among Fortune 500 companies, this new approach to corporate strategy, avoids the traditional assumptions that companies must make “either/or” decisions about growth and corporate responsibility.   
 
Dinner &  Working Groups: Participant Sustainability Challenge Part 1 – Introductions
 
During dinner, participants will share (in small groups) their previously prepared sustainability challenge topics. Participants will come to the program having previously consulted with their supervisors on strategic sustainability related challenges in their organizations. Facilitators will lead groups through a carefully planned dialog and framework for discussing and applying concepts from the program to developing possible solutions and action plans.
 

 
Beginning with the End in Mind: Capstone Projects and the Certificate in Corporate Sustainability
 
This session will share the results of past participants' capstone projects and the opportunities to increase participants's return on investment.  It will include discussion of the ongoing educational opportunities available through Stepping Stone sessions and the value of the mentor relationship.
 
Strategies for Accelerating Sustainability in your Organization: The Value of Deeper Employee Engagement
This session will demonstrate the values of employee engagement with both modest and aggressive sustainability goals.  Drawing on case studies from companies that span the continuum (from sustainability rock-stars to sustainability neophytes), it presents innovative ways to engage employee in the process of ideation to improve corporate sustainability, build incentive programs, design engagement workshops, and outlines real-life outcomes of employee engagement.  We will also look at an audit protocol designed to ensure alignment between non-sustainability corporate goals and sustainability goals.
 
Life Cycle Thinking & Trade-Off Decision Making
This session will give participants a high level understanding of product life cycles, and life cycle analysis, the process of gathering environmental data associated with production of products. Participants will explore the strategic value of LCA, its limitations, and the realities of LCA in action through a case study and dialog. 
 
Lunch (with Guest Speaker, Beyond LCA)
 
This provocative lunchtime speaker will introduce the notion of NetPositive, and leading companies who are making NetPositive their goal. The session will also talk about the intriguing idea of  “Handprints" (veruss Footprints) and first steps for companies (or sustainability departments) who are interested to start exploring their own handprint potential.
 
 
Tying Sustainability to Organizational Goals: Approaches and Tools for Sustainability Measurement and Accountability
 
This session will not only explore and evaluate the leading and tools for sustainability measurement and accountability, but will explore the benefits of “radical transparency,” learning about some of the best practices and exemplars in this area. The session will also discuss the important topic of how to tie sustainability goals to broader organizational goals by determining an appropriate set of metrics for evaluating “success.”
 
Building the Business Case for Sustainability
 
The session will focus on the importance of building the “business case” for sustainability related initiatives, and how this can be accomplished within organizations.  We will learn from different leaders at companies which both aspire toward being a leader in sustainability in their industry. The session will help participants understand how to develop a compelling and meaningful “story” rooted in corporate values, and how to demonstrate the connection between business performance and ROI and the value of sustainability initiatives.
 
Panel: Advancing Sustainability Through Creative Financing Mechanisms
 
This session focuses on the critical role of finance in advancing sustainability. The session will involve “straight talk” on how to navigate the often competing priorities, between corporate finance and corporate sustainability, including the positive and creative role that finance can play. The session will also allow participants to learn about some of the more innovative and creative approaches to financing triple bottom line initiatives, including cross sector financing mechanisms.
 
Dinner &  Working Groups: Participant Sustainability Challenge Part 2
 
During dinner, participants will share (in small groups) their previously prepared sustainability challenge topics. Participants will come to the program having previously consulted with their supervisors on strategic sustainability related challenges in their organizations. Facilitators will lead groups through a carefully planned dialog and framework for discussing and applying concepts from the program to developing possible solutions and action plans.

 
Customers and Consumers as Partners in Sustainability
 
 
Any company’s success with its sustainability efforts ultimately rests in the choices of its customers—the degree to which this stakeholder group buys into the sustainability portion of the overall value proposition of the organization. Using models and tools developed by The Big Picture Partners ™, participants will learn how to align the competing demands of profits and the desire to serve the greater good in the face of their customers, either B2B companies or consumers. Participants will learn how to identify and define their customers, and then how to build a value proposition that links the organization’s core competency with the needs of these customers.
 
Strategic Corporate Community Investment and Engagement
 
 
This workshop will explore an important aspect of sustainability: investment in local communities. Participants will learn how corporations have discovered that strategic “enlightened self-interest” is a win-win for companies and the communities in which they do business. This workshop will explore the idea of what it means to be a strategic and positive corporate citizen.  Integrating engagement and investment in the community as a cornerstone to your corporate strategy will also be discussed.
 
Collaboration not Competition!: Case studies in creative collaborations for achieving sustainability goals
 
 
Sustainability leaders understand they will always work with constrained resources and therefore embody the idea that you can create greater value by identifying like-minded partners. This session explores the theme of collaboration: through live case studies of several organizations and their key partners participants will learn about long term strategic collaborations outside the organization as a key mechanism for achieving sustainability goals. This session will feature companies who fully embrace the idea that organizations in all sectors can be important sources of knowledge for corporations, and who harness those resources in creative collaborations and deep partnerships for achieving sustainability goals.
 
Becoming an Effective Sustainability Change Agent: Using Facilitative Leadership to Move Sustainability Forward
 
 
Although, as earlier sessions have discussed, making the business case and having a common set of metrics for evaluation is important, there is growing recognition that those who aspire to advance sustainability within their organizations also require sophisticated leadership and interpersonal skills. This session is built on the premise that hierarchical leadership is less important and that is the dynamic networks that constitute organizations that enable things to happen in organizations. Tapping into those patterns to help get more done.  This session on facilitative leadership helps participants understand the leader as “condition creator” – creating the circumstances for others to be more activated in their roles, and helping the organization fulfill its sustainability potential. This session will involve exercises to help participants think about building effective relationship triangles, including a focus on the process, the people, trust and the spirit in which people engage.