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 researching how organizations, from small businesses to global firms, 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 nonprofits in a range of areas.
Here at the School of Management, as part of our strategic focus on social innovation, we have integrated sustainability into a variety of courses, programs, research and partnerships. Below are a few examples.
Through undergraduate and graduate courses, students can gain a deeper understanding of climate change and its impact on business strategy and operations.
To truly reduce their environmental footprint, organizations need to look beyond their office walls. Companies must thoroughly examine their operations and supply chains—from how they acquire, warehouse and transport raw materials, to how they manufacture products, to how customers use and eventually discard those products. In the “Sustainable Operations” course, students learn strategies to ensure both profitability and social responsibility, including many tools that measure a supply chain’s environmental impact, such as life cycle assessment, carbon footprinting, environmental legislation, recycling and remanufacturing, energy efficiency, eco-certifications and more.
The course is an elective for undergraduates with an operations and supply chain management concentration.
In this Professional MBA elective, students get a hands-on look at why addressing climate change isn’t just the right thing to do—it 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.
In their research, 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’s currently studying clean energy technology in collaboration with the U.S Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute. His research also analyzes manufacturers’ recycled-content claims and how environmentally preferable purchasing can stimulate demand for recycled-content products.
In addition, Vedantam has delivered seminars, both in person and online, to a variety of organizations, including the local chapter of the local chapter of the Institute of Supply Management and the UB Alumni Association.
Aditya Vedantam, assistant professor of operations management and strategy, is an affiliated faculty member with UB RENEW, an interdisciplinary hub for education and research on energy, environment and water. He and Khadija Ajmal, a School of Management doctoral student, are part of a research team studying plastics recycling with 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 lay out global priorities for sustainability—and serve as a framework for how UB approaches sustainability too. In his research, Debu Talukdar, professor of marketing, explores social and economic issues related to these goals. He has studied the high costs of living in Nairobi’s slums and published research with The World Bank showing how several Kenyan cities do not provide universal access to basic infrastructure. Talukdar has presented his findings at the Sustainability and Development Conference, among other forums.
In addition, Talukdar is also affiliated with UB RENEW and has studied consumer behavior related to sustainability—specifically, how economic policies impact help or hinder sustainable economic development by shifting consumer or industry behavior. 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 the school’s Finance Department, faculty are conducting research in the area of environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria for investments—a range of factors many investors use to evaluate a company’s impact and operations.
Cristian Tiu, associate professor and chair of finance, recently co-authored a study examining the costs and benefits of socially responsible investment (SRI) 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.
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: