As sustainability continues to positively impact business and the economy, Unity College is expanding its efforts to revolutionize how entrepreneurs interact with businesses, nonprofits, government institutions, and the world around them.
With the introduction of two new business-focused programs, Unity will expand its constituency and align its history as a lively, entrepreneurial business entity with existing graduates’ career and graduate school choices. The new B.S. in Sustainable Business Enterprise and Sustainable Master’s of Business Administration will expose students to the business world through the school’s distinct sustainability science framework. Graduates will get the skills necessary to be effective sustainability innovators, work collaboratively in teams with diverse stakeholders, and view environmental issues critically to identify and address challenges at the intersection of economy, society, and environment. “Sustainability and business do not have to be at odds with each other,” said President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury.
Our goal is to prepare innovative business leaders and managers who can effectively steward natural resources, and create enterprises that have a positive impact on society while also achieving a solid bottom line. A course or two is insufficient to truly address the issue at hand
— our students must be able to recreate and reimagine the processes, products and services of the industries they become involved with. These immersive, environmentally-focused programs will prepare them to do that.”
Students wishing to launch careers in sustainability are increasingly looking to the ability of organizations to protect the environment and foster social responsibility. These two programs support the mission of Unity College by giving students more options in furthering their careers in sustainability science. They will gain key business administration skills to successfully implement sustainability initiatives in a variety of organizations, or the entrepreneurial skills to start environmentally-minded businesses.
“The business industry must be revolutionized from the inside,” said Dr. Janis Balda, an Associate Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at Unity College who will be serving as point person for the new bachelor of science program. “Our graduates will have the skills to not only translate sustainability science into a language that businesspeople and consumers can understand, but also to impact choices that are being made at those businesses in the day- to-day.”
“Of the world’s top 100 economies in 2016, 31 were countries and 69 were corporations. We need to keep that in mind when considering how to address problems of rising inequality and climate change.”
Unity College is no stranger to entrepreneurship. Founded in 1965 as the Unity Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the college initially boasted a faculty of 15 and a student body of 39. The founders, a group of local business people, were looking for ways to counter economic decline in the adjacent town of Unity. Now the school is one of the fastest growing private four-year liberal arts colleges in Maine, shattering previous enrollment records with 705 full-time-equivalent students in Fall 2016.
The Unity College Board of Trustees made history when it voted unanimously to divest its portfolio from investments in the Top 200 fossil fuel companies during fall semester 2012. We then went on to build the first college residence hall in the U.S. to follow Passive House standards, TerraHaus, and retain the first president’s home to be certified LEED Platinum by the U.S. Green Building Council. To support the increased enrollment, the college has completed more than $20 million in physical plant improvements over the last four years.
“We walk the talk when it comes to creating a sustainable path for society,” Board of Trustees Chair John Newlin said. “We have a vision for a sustainable society that transcends preconceived notions of business. The Unity College way is helping our students to learn from the process as we do the right thing.”
Undergraduate students within the Sustainable Business Enterprise program will travel to and work with regional, national, and international real-world institutions throughout the course of the curriculum, taking advantage of Unity College’s position at the nexus of a large network of successful sustainable business and social organizations. New course options will feature titles such as “Entrepreneurship for a Better World,” “Resolving Environmental Challenges,” “Sustainability, Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility,” and “Sustainable Finance.” Bachelor’s degree candidates will also specify one of four tracks: International Sustainable Development, Sustainable Energy Management, Sustainable Agriculture, or Sustainable Tourism. The program will be first-year, double-major, and transfer friendly, facilitated by specific agreements with other higher education institutions where students complete their associate’s degree and then come to Unity College — often referred to as a two-plus-two option.
Master’s of Business Administration students will benefit from small classes, world-class teachers, and flexible class schedules, creating a dynamic and personalized learning community. The program will examine the triple bottom line — people, planet, and profit — and MBA candidates will learn to work collaboratively to implement sustainability initiatives. Students will gain an understanding of tools specific to environmental business practices, such as sustainability reporting, corporate social responsibility, life cycle analysis, cradle-to-cradle design, environmental accounting, and ecological footprint. All within a program that can be completed in 14 months.
Information about a new Sustainable Business Enterprise Bachelor of Science will be featured in Unity College coursebooks this year, preparing for a Fall 2018 launch of the new program. The Sustainable Master’s of Business Administration will be launched pending commission approval.