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By Karen Herland
Dean Sanjay Sharma has not even finished his first year at the helm of the John Molson School of Business and he has already made the faculty a much more sustainable place.
When Sharma arrived in August 2007, he left a Canada Research Chair in Organizational Sustainability. It was inevitable that he would bring the expertise he had built up over his career to his new post. The bonus was how eager students were to dive in.
“There was already a group of business students working on sustainability issues [like the organization of the annual Sustainable Business Conference]. Now, they have a lot more support,” said Sharma.
He added that students also wanted to see more courses addressing sustainability. Ray Paquin will join the faculty this June with a mandate to teach graduate and undergraduate sustainability courses. Sharma himself teaches a course at the Executive MBA level on Saturdays.
Accountancy professor Charles Cho is developing a course on his field of environmental accounting for next academic year and is coordinating a conference on the subject this June. His interest is shared by colleague Michel Magnan. Management professor Martin Martens is addressing some of these issues in an ethics course this term.
Sharma sees sustainability as integral to the field of business studies, in terms of sustainability’s triple bottom line.
“The economic element is evident in a business school, but there is also stewardship of the environment and the social impact.”
These questions touch employee conditions in your own company, and those you do business with. So you want to ensure that your inputs are competitively priced, but not to the point of exploiting that supplier’s labour pool or environment.
When he arrived, potential donors asked if he would help develop proposals for research centres that could expand these ideas academically, and support students who wish to pursue research in these areas. “I said ‘of course I can help’.” Three such proposals are currently being considered by funders.
In addition to building capacity, Sharma wasted no time in making basic changes in the faculty. All official materials are now printed on 100 per cent post-consumer recycled paper. “We’re reducing the use of toxic bleaching chemicals, and we’re not cutting down fresh trees.”
All of this will sit right in 2009 as the faculty moves into its brand new and LEED-certified digs currently under construction at Guy St. and De Maisonneuve Blvd.