by Dan Vermeer, Associate Professor of the Practice and Executive Director, EDGE
Last month, students, staff, and faculty from across the country gathered for the 4th ClimateCAP Summit in Austin, Texas. The ClimateCAP Initiative was launched at Fuqua in 2016 in response to a growing need to help MBA students understand the connections between climate change and their business careers.
In the last seven years, and despite all of the massive disruptions during that time, ClimateCAP has gained significant momentum. Since the first Summit, held at Fuqua in 2018, we have built a partnership of 32 engaged business schools, attracted philanthropic funding from the Hearst Foundations, hired Jessica Wingert as program lead, launched a ClimateCAP Fellows program, and established ClimateCAP as the premier MBA-focused climate event nationally. Based on the rapidly growing demand and positive reviews of the participating students, we are enthusiastic about continuing to grow the scale and impact of this initiative.
We have also learned a lot about what fosters this kind of momentum. One key is that MBA students are hungry to meet and build relationships with peers from other MBA programs who share the same interests and priorities. It can still be lonely in many MBA programs to focus your business career around climate and sustainability, so it is encouraging to spend a couple days with peers who “get it.” The Summit is an opportunity to join a network of future business leaders who recognize how climate change is profoundly shifting markets, consumers, and lifestyles.
A similar dynamic happens when we gather staff and faculty from participating schools to share experiences and resources. Our “Educator Roundtable” event at each ClimateCAP Summit highlights how rapidly business schools are changing, and how much more work is needed to align curricula, priorities, and faculty with the societal challenge of climate change. (For more on the scale of transformation in business school education, see my colleagues’ recent article in Greenbiz, “Climate change has (finally) arrived at business school.”)
Finally, the corporate leaders that participate in the Summit also come away heartened by the focus and expertise of the student attendees. As companies prepare for the future, access to talent is one of the key factors required to make the sustainability transition.
ClimateCAP operates like a multi-sided platform. It enables networks of students, faculty, and industry professionals to engage with each other around compelling content. The more people engage, the more beneficial that participation is for every party. It also allows each participant to define their own level of engagement as an audience member, ClimateCAP Fellow, academic partner, industry leader, or host school. Through these roles, participants can make their own contributions to the evolving conversation about climate and business. Our opportunity now is to remake business education and to prepare our students to be partners in tackling society’s grand challenges. ClimateCAP is helping to bring that vision to life.