Colorado State University Launches New, Innovative Executive Sustainability Program

Through Colorado State University’s College of Business, the Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Enterprise is launching a new, innovative program to make companies more valuable through sustainable business practices.

“Business education at Colorado State University is entering a new era today with the launch of Sustainability Executive Education (SEE),” said Ajay Menon, dean of the College of Business at Colorado State University. “This solutions-driven program provides an innovative framework that will deliver practical tools to executives to design and implement sustainable business practices. SEE advances the College’s long tradition of leadership in applying new knowledge to the world of practice.”

Real-world success means creating shareholder value. The short- and long-term competitive advantages that business sustainability delivers are real and measurable. Green Winners, a 2009 A.T. Kearny study, reports that even in this current difficult financial environment, companies that successfully incorporate sustainable practices into core operations perform better in the stock market. Their research revealed that, on average, sustainable companies had a $650 million market capitalization premium, compared to their non-sustainable peers, and 15 percent better market performance.

“Sustainability is no longer optional,” said CSU professor and SEE faculty member, Tom Dean. “SEE teaches companies how to transform themselves, top to bottom, and achieve superior financial results while meeting high standards of environmental and social performance. That such results are possible has been validated multiple times by such top-flight analytical firms as Goldman Sachs, SAM-Sustainability Asset Management, Accenture, and IBM Global Business Services.”

A recent Accenture worldwide survey reports that 93 percent of CEOs believe that sustainability will be critical to the future of their businesses, and that execution is now the real challenge to sustainability efforts. Successful execution is what SEE strives to accomplish with and for participants.

SEE is a partnership between the college’s Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Enterprise, or CASE, and Natural Capitalism Solutions, or NCS.

“The curriculum, developed in collaboration between CSU faculty and NCS, combines the academic rigor of a world-class university with proven-results experience of NCS, a global leader in implementing sustainable practices in business in government,” said Bill Kramer, CASE senior associate director. “We are proud to partner with NCS, a Colorado-based national treasure led by green business icon, Hunter Lovins.”

The executive education program offers both a 30-contact hour introductory course, “Insight for Action: The Keys to Business Sustainability,” and advanced problem-solving courses, “Sustainable Enterprise Toolkits,” or SETs. Insight for Action will be offered starting in October and SETs will start in early 2011.

“Colorado is a vibrant center of entrepreneurship, especially in renewable energy, high-tech, and sustainable agriculture. Our economy, similar to our national economy, is in need of a strong competitive edge; sustainability is Colorado’s signature,” said Menon. “Over the past five years, Colorado has focused on being on the forefront of the national sustainability discussion and invested significant financial and human capital to develop a sustainability-focused state economy. Feedback from the corporate community indicates that knowledge about sustainability-focused business practice is an essential component of long-term value creation. It is my expectation that SEE will deliver relevant and practical knowledge to the practicing executive.”

Insight for Action students will learn how to lead sustainability initiatives in their enterprises. The core course combines a rigorous introduction to the basic issues:
– What is sustainability and what does it mean for my business?
– What are the powerful frameworks that business can use to implement sustainable business practices across operations?
– What are the proven best practices?
– What is our action plan?

Delivered in an intensive five-day format, from Wednesday evening to mid-day Sunday, Insight for Action is designed for line business managers who are already tasked with achieving sustainability goals but who are not sure how to achieve lasting results. The course will also appeal to those who wish to add sustainability credentials to their professional resumes. As the Accenture report reports, creating a pervasive “sustainability mind-set” among firm managers is seen as a high priority in surveyed firms.

SEE students learn from the pioneers who invented sustainability for business, such as NCS founder and Time Magazine millennium “Hero for the Planet” Hunter Lovins; Janine Benyus, who launched the biomimicry revolution; best-selling business sustainability author Andrew Winston; Alex Bogusky, former partner at advertising and design firm Crispin, Porter & Bogusky; and Catherine Greener, a globally-respected, Colorado-based consultant on large-scale industrial sustainability.

Students are also taught by those with strong academic credentials. SEE faculty include College of Business sustainability experts Tom Dean, Paul Hudnut, Tuba Ustuner, Susan Golicic; and Bryan Dunbar and Josie Plaut from CSU’s Institute for the Built Environment. SETs will be taught by leading experts in their fields from universities and business.

“In 20 years of teaching and consulting about sustainability, I have never been more excited by the potential for positive results. SEE is a business-focused effort that will deliver real change,” said Lovins. “The CSU-NCS partnership is compelling and powerful, combining the best of the academy and battle-tested private sector experience. Our program fills the huge gap in results-focused resources to enable companies that are serious about sustainability to transform their business practice, not just do ‘less bad.’”

Lovins is a leading professor of Sustainable Management who lectures at universities on five continents. She leads a team of practitioners and academicians at NCS to bring cutting-edge expertise and hands-on experience in profitable sustainability. She is the best-selling author of “Natural Capitalism,” a book that defined a radically new approach to the economy and natural resources in use globally by companies, communities and countries.

CASE works closely with other sustainability programs and initiatives at Colorado State University, drawing on the university’s many Centers of Excellence for course ideas, curriculum and faculty. CASE and SEE will be partnering with the School of Global Environmental Sustainability on future workshops and conferences, further building the university’s portfolio of applied knowledge in sustainability.

Introductory Course Offered in Fall 2010

SEE will offer its foundational course, “Insight for Action: The Keys to Business Sustainability,” three times this fall in October, November and December. Advanced applications-based courses on the focused topics offered in Sustainable Enterprise Toolkits will begin in early 2011.

SEE is a certificate course with CSU Continuing Education credits available at a small additional cost. Customized courses for individual companies are also available.

Registration for “Insight for Action” is open now. Details on the curriculum, faculty, course locations and cost are available on the SEE website or at

For more information, contact SEE staff at (970) 491-5612 or