Sustainability Straight from the Source

The Tippie College of Business brings sustainability managers to campus to share their experience, so that its faculty can integrate the latest best practices into their teaching.

Sustainability Straight from the Source

In May, administrators at the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business in Iowa City held their first Faculty Sustainability Summit, where sustainability managers from seven companies and one consulting firm presented on trends and best practices in their fields. The objective? To make sure that Tippie faculty integrate the latest sustainable practices into their teaching.

About 30 members of Tippie’s faculty attended the summit, where they heard from, for example, Bill Blackburn, CEO of William Blackburn Consulting, who explained how environmental and social issues present both threats and opportunities to business. Another panel discussion included managers from the clothing company Patagonia, commercial furniture manufacturer Allsteel, agricultural company Frontier Cooperative, organic food cooperative Organic Valley, and craft beer company New Belgium Brewery. The panelists shared how their companies communicate sustainability strategies clearly, change consumer expectations, and solve environmental problems by cultivating cultures of innovation.

The speakers represented a diverse range of companies that “embrace and live a culture of sustainability not only because it is the right thing do for our earth, but also because it has a positive impact on their bottom lines,” says Sara Maples, Tippie College’s sustainability manager and a co-coordinator for the conference.

It took about five months for the school to organize and secure speakers for the summit, which already has inspired a new course developed by the University of Iowa’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center. The course will explore the intersection of sustainability, entrepreneurship, and social change

The summit fulfilled its primary objective, which was to inform Tippie faculty about current business trends, says Maples. “We plan to continue working to hold workshops, summits, and events that educate our college on key emerging sustainability issues.”