Spotlighting Sustainability

CSUSB radio show puts the focus on sustainability.

How can a business school connect with stakeholders on issues it considers critical? At California State University in San Bernardino (CSUSB), one way the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration (JHBC) meets this goal is through a radio program devoted to global and local sustainability issues.

The show is the brainchild of Breena Coates, emeritus professor of corporate strategy, and was developed with the input of dean Lawrence Rose. Coates—who still teaches courses in corporate behavior, ethics, and sustainability—serves as the show’s host, producer, and director. She also researches topics, writes scripts, and arranges for guest appearances. She is supported by Merlyna Phan, an MBA grad student who was trained as an engineer and who handles the radio hardware and software.

The show airs monthly on Coyote Radio, the university’s online radio station, and Coates promotes each episode by making announcements on electronic boards and posting fliers around campus. She opens every show with a monologue that addresses some particular sustainability concern before narrowing the focus to explore how the CSUSB campus is addressing it.

The show airs monthly on Coyote Radio, the university’s online radio station, and Coates promotes each episode by making announcements on electronic boards and posting fliers around campus. She opens every show with a monologue that addresses some particular sustainability concern before narrowing the focus to explore how the CSUSB campus is addressing it.

For instance, in a broadcast about the effects of e-waste, Coates urges listeners to “close your eyes and imagine a post-Armageddon scene. The green fields disappear and give way to mounds of hot black and grey soot, which seem to go up to the sky and cover the sun. Fires ignite, and red glowing piles of smoldering embers dot the landscape. … Your eyes sting, your throat gets dry, and you begin to cough incessantly. It becomes hard to breathe. … You have just entered a toxic waste dump in Agbogbloshie, a desperate slum outside its capital city of Accra, Ghana.”

This monologue is followed by information from Sam Sudhakar, the school’s vice president of IT, who discusses the university’s efforts to reduce e-waste. Other guests speak about the cost of repairing computer parts and note that CSUSB donates used computers to disadvantaged populations.

Another show explores the ancient tradition of tara bandu, a governance system on the island nation of East Timor that takes environmental, economic, and spiritual practices into account. Guest speakers include geography professor Rajrani Kalra, who discusses sustainable cultural practices around the world; and Frank Lin, director of the JHBC Global Management Center, who talks about a recent study abroad trip to India that had a sustainability focus.

“‘The Sustainability Show’ walks the strategic talk of the campus by bringing in voices from the field—both executives and faculty,” says Coates. She adds that the program falls in line with broader initiatives, such as “Resilient CSUSB,” a plan to nurture a healthier community for the San Bernardino and Palm Desert campuses by focusing on areas such as energy, water, waste, and transportation; JHBC’s commitment to the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative; and AACSB International’s guiding principles of ethics and corporate social responsibility.

“The show also offers serendipitous dividends by providing qualitative research on sustainability issues by using CSUSB as a case,” says Coates. “It serves as a tool for advertising and other fundraising efforts at the school.”

Listen episodes of “The Sustainability Show.” You also can download the Coyote radio app from Apple’s App Store or Google Play or listen to podcasts.