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Training opportunities

The principles and practices of sustainable business are finding their way into a growing number of university syllabuses and professional training programs. Some of the leading courses are outlined here.

Professional training

The Sustainable Enterprise Academy (SEA), founded by the Schulich School of Business at York University in Canada, offers business leaders in North America executive education on the theme of corporate sustainable development. Tuition takes the form of four-day residential programmes, held twice a year at various venues.

Issues addressed include:

  • Environmental, social and economic drivers for sustainability in business;
  • Business and government roles in global sustainability;
  • Opportunities and threats;
  • Emerging markets;
  • Management tools for sustainable business development.

The SEA describes its mission as 'Assisting business in the transformation to corporate sustainability by providing senior executives in business, government and civil society with the vision, education, tools and support necessary to champion sustainable development in their organizations'.

HRH Prince of Wales Business & the Environment Program
Developed and run by the University of Cambridge Program for Industry, the BSP is the premier international forum for executive learning on sustainable business and sustainability leadership.

The seminar empowers senior executives to integrate sustainability principles into their organisations by reconciling sustainability and profitability. Business leaders, representatives from the public sector and NGOs all participate in the seminars held internationally each year. The Program has introduced over 1,500 executives from over 450 organisations in more than 40 countries to the sustainability debate. At the end of each seminar, they become members of an active and influential alumni network.

'Virtual university'

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Foundation for Business and Sustainable Development has established a 'virtual university' which offers three courses on sustainable business: (i) 'Corporate social responsibility'; (ii) 'The sustainable business challenge', and (iii) 'The global scenario challenge'.

MBA courses

At the end of 2001, the World Resources Institute and the Aspen Institute Initiative for Social Innovation through Business (ISIB) published the results of a survey of MBA (Masters in Business Administration) courses around the world. The aim of the exercise was to identify business schools that had significantly incorporated ideas of sustainable business into their teaching syllabuses.

A total of 122 centres, 58 of them in the USA, were assessed. A report summarizing the findings, Beyond Grey Pinstripes, singles out eight 'cutting edge' business schools. They are:

Many more centres are identified in the report as 'showing significant activities'. Most are in the USA, but other countries highlighted are Canada, Mexico and China.

Click here to download a copy of Beyond Grey Pinstripes in PDF format.


For recent MBA graduates, an organization called Net Impact has established a program of summer internships with businesses. Net Impact describes itself as 'a network of emerging business leaders committed to using the power of business to create a better world'.

The internships are grouped into one of four categories:

  • Entrepreneurship;
  • Community development;
  • Corporate responsibility;
  • Environmental management.

The organization's website enables prospective interns to apply for placements. Applications can be submitted any time after 1 January for internships in the summer of the same year.

Training opportunities in Europe

A database of around 400 sustainable development training courses in Europe, ranging from distance learning to postgraduate and professional training, is maintained by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions.

The database is grouped into five categories:

  • Distance learning
  • Fellowships
  • Postgraduate
  • Professional training
  • Other

The Foundation, which has been in existence since 1975, is managed by a board of directors appointed by the European Commission. The board includes representatives from national governments, industry and trade unions.

Environmental management training

In the UK, the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) maintains a database of accredited courses and training providers in more than 30 countries. Click here to download the latest listing in PDF format.

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