Sustainability is good for the planet—and good for the bottom line.
In the UB School of Management, sustainability means thinking big and working together to make change that positively impacts our community and planet.
For example, as climate change threatens to impact nearly every aspect of society—including food and water sourcing, public health, housing and transportation—faculty members are studying how companies can improve their environmental performance and be part of the solution. In the classroom, our students learn why sustainability makes smart business sense, and use their skills to help local nonprofits.
As part of our strategic focus on social innovation, the School of Management has integrated sustainability into a variety of courses, programs, research and partnerships. Below are a few examples.
Through their coursework, students look at sustainability from multiple perspectives and gain a deeper understanding of its impact on business strategy and operations.
In this Professional MBA elective, students get a hands-on look at why sustainability makes smart business sense. Working in teams, PMBA students develop an idea or company to advance one of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, and create a concept paper, short video pitch and a longer live pitch to sell their idea to a panel of judges.
Gain the technical and managerial skills needed to solve the world's most pressing transportation and logistics questions. In collaboration with the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, we offer a Master of Science in Sustainable Transportation and Logistics that gives graduates the tools and knowledge to excel in a competitive global marketplace. With an emphasis on environmentally friendly and socially responsible technologies and practices, the program integrates analytical and engineering problem-solving skills with management principles to prepare graduates for a variety of rewarding careers.
To reduce their carbon footprint, organizations must examine their entire operations and supply chain—from how they acquire, warehouse and transport materials, to how they manufacture products, to how customers use and eventually discard those goods. In the “Sustainable Operations” course, students learn how firms can ensure both profitability and social responsibility, including such concepts as life cycle assessment, carbon footprinting, recycling and remanufacturing, energy efficiency, and eco-certifications.
School of Management faculty question theories and bring new perspectives to pressing challenges—including sustainability and climate change.
Aditya Vedantam, assistant professor of operations management and strategy, explores the environmental impact of firm operations, including sustainable procurement, green product design and reverse logistics. He has studied clean energy technology in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute. In addition, Vedantam’s research has explored fashion resale strategies, recycled content claims in various industries and how to stimulate demand for recycled products.
In addition, Vedantam has delivered seminars to a variety of organizations, including the local chapter of the Institute of Supply Management and the UB Alumni Association.
Three School of Management researchers—faculty members Aditya Vedantam and Nallan C. Suresh, as well as doctoral student Khadija Ajmal—led a multidisciplinary study examining the impact of China's National Sword policy on U.S. plastics recycling. They discovered that more plastics end up in landfill because of these restrictions. The project was part of a $1.9 million grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), with the goal of stimulating the state’s regenerative economy while reducing pollution.
In addition, Vedantam and UB RENEW are investigating tire recycling with another DEC grant. The team will explore options for the beneficial use of whole tires and tire byproducts, ways to improve waste tire recycling infrastructure, and policy options to increase the marketability of secondary tire-based materials and products.
The United Nations’ sustainable development goals serve as a framework for how UB approaches sustainability. In his research, Debu Talukdar, professor of marketing, explores related social and economic issues. He has studied the high cost of living in Nairobi’s slums and published research with The World Bank showing a lack of access to basic infrastructure in several Kenyan cities.
In addition, Talukdar is affiliated with UB RENEW and studies consumer behavior around sustainability and economic development. His research has been cited by scholars in economics, environmental policy, public health, law, management and other fields.
In his research, Richard Kraude, assistant professor of management science and systems, has demonstrated that greater corporate social performance can help companies attract superior employees and improve the organization’s reputation, market presence and intangible value. Now, Kraude is investigating the impact of vertical integration and eco-innovation on a company’s environmental performance.
In our Finance Department, faculty are conducting research around environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria, which investors increasingly use to evaluate companies.
Cristian Tiu, associate professor and chair of finance, recently co-authored a study examining the costs and benefits of socially responsible investment policies on university endowment funds, which was highlighted on the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment blog. Meanwhile, Feng (Jack) Jiang, associate professor of finance, led a research team investigating how the risk of sea level rise affected the pricing of bank loans that companies receive.
School of Management students can choose from a robust array of experiential learning opportunities— locally and around the globe—to see firsthand how organizations can successfully incorporate sustainability into their mission and operations for a better world.
The UB Sustainable Business Association, a student club co-founded by Cam Hotto and Max Schynoll, aims to educate members of the UB community about the importance and viability of sustainability in the business world. SBA hosts speakers from UB, nonprofits and major companies, and collaborates with other campus organizations to reach more students.
In spring 2021, Matthew Taboni, a business administration undergraduate, was honored by UB Sustainability with the Student Leadership Award for Sustainable Action. Taboni, who also received the prestigious 2021 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, was recognized for his advocacy in increasing food accessibility to students in need through UB’s Blue Table food pantry, as well as his sustainability leadership within UB’s residence halls.
“Matt’s contributions as a student leader are representative of the stewardship we seek in transforming our campus into a holistically sustainable community,” says Brian Haggerty, senior associate director for residential life. “His contributions as president of the Residence Hall Association, co-chair of the Blue Table program and a foundational member of the Food Recovery Network are all examples of the meaningful work he has engaged in.”
As part of the school’s growing array of global programs, students can experience sustainable business practices in action in Costa Rica. Past trips have taken students inside Coopedota, where they discussed social innovation with the leaders of the world’s first carbon-neutral coffee cooperative.
Newly arrived first-year MBAs hit the ground running to help with the annual Western New York Day of Caring organized by United Way of Buffalo and Erie County.
During the Social Impact Fellows program, students from business, social work and other disciplines work together to address social issues at local organizations. One team, for example, explored ethical and sustainable fashion and fair labor practices, while helping the nonprofit Stitch Buffalo improve its business processes.
The School of Management works collaboratively within the UB and Western New York communities, and with organizations around the world, to help develop sustainable solutions to today’s many challenges.
Our partners include: