Energy & Sustainability Cluster

Offering students hands-on training in a specific industry and face-to-face interaction with top industry professionals, the Energy and Sustainability Cluster is taught by business professionals and an expert Fisher Senior Lecturer and Faculty Coordinator:  Dr. Neil Drobny.  This class is typically offered two evenings per week.

Sponsoring and Participating Companies

Sponsoring and participating companies for the 2015-2016 academic year are:  the Alcoa Foundation, The Dow Chemical Company, Greif, the General Motors Foundation and Owens Corning.

This is an academic program with expectations. There will be exams, outside readings, projects and assignments. Students in this class should be aware that there will be several required learning opportunities outside of class time. These events include, but are not limited to: the Kick-Off Event, project presentations, field trips, networking, etc.

Video Feature

Dr. Neil Drobny talks about sustainability - people, profit, & planet - drivers for companies and learning in the classroom.

Course Sequence and Syllabi

Sustainability in Business - Principles & Concepts

Autumn - 3 semester hours
Course syllabus

This course introduces the student to the emerging role that sustainability plays in all facets of business at both the operational and strategic levels. The underlying premise of the course is that sustainable business practices lie at the core of an organization’s ability to compete and survive in a resource-constrained world with a growing population.  Course material is presented in the context of the triple bottom line which refers to how effectively organizations use economic capital, environmental capital and human capital.  Other overarching sustainable business themes are: partnering with nature, doing more with less, design for sustainability, and managing stakeholder vs. shareholder interests. 

Approximately one third to one half of the lectures are delivered by executives from corporations who practice sustainability as part of their daily job routine. Also to complement classroom work, two visits are planned to local companies deeply engaged in sustainability as part of their business.

Sustainability in Business - Applications & Project Experience

Spring - 3 semester hours

This course builds on Sustainability in Business-Principles & Concepts, which is a prerequisite.  In the first one-third of this course, several case studies are employed to acquaint students with sustainable business initiatives and practices in corporations of diverse sizes and in diverse industries.   The case studies are selected to illustrate how sustainable practices lead to business success and to help students anticipate the contribution to sustainability they may someday have as employees in various functional areas of an organization.

 The last two-thirds of the course will be a client-based experience that will integrate prior curriculum topics in a hands-on sustainability management project.  Students will work in teams on a project contributed by a company or a non-commercial organization.  The projects selected for work will involve important strategic issues with strong sustainability content.  Accordingly, project results will have the potential to advance important strategic goals of the sponsoring organization.  During this phase of the course students will spend the majority of their time working with their teams and in consultation with the project sponsor’s representative.  Minimal time will be spent in formal classroom sessions.  

Project results will be presented formally in both written and oral form.  Sponsoring companies will be invited to attend presentations and will have input into final grades.

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In Their Words

  • This program has offered a whole new perspective to me in terms of how business and sustainability interact.

    Kelly Wheeler
    Energy & Sustainability Cluster