Dr. Helen Takacs, International Business and Management

Business and Sustainability

My participation in the Valley & Ridge Project in 2008 supported my development of a course on business and sustainability, which I teach as an INBM elective.  This course serves as an opportunity to integrate the college’s focus on sustainability into the curriculum of the INBM department.  The goal is for our students to gain an appreciation of how an organization’s strategy, and implementation of this strategy, both impact and are influenced by the natural world.  Some of the questions we address in this course are:

  • Historically, what has been the relationship of business with the natural environment?  How does this vary by industry?
  • Why has this relationship developed in this way?  What are the underlying drivers, and how are these drivers changing?
  • What are companies doing now to respond to environmental issues?  What are traditional approaches, and what are some of the more innovative approaches?
  • How can companies improve their performance with regard to the natural environment?

The Valley & Ridge Project allowed me to think about frameworks for teaching environmental sustainability in a business course and for personally connecting students to the natural world.  The grounding of Valley & Ridge in our local environment, e.g., the LeTort Spring Run and Waggoner’s Gap, convinced me of the need to allow students in this course to literally move outside the classroom.  Thus, the course includes an assignment in which students focus on one element of their local natural environment and consider how this element was influenced by business and industry and/or how it currently or has the potential to influence business and industry.