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Certificate in Sustainable Business Practices

The Certificate in Sustainable Business Practices focuses on the comprehensive skillsets required for sustainable business leaders. Students will take courses covering quantitative skills, leadership, and strategy, as well as our flagship course in systems, sustainability, and social justice. The Certificate in Sustainable Business practices comprises four courses totaling 16 units and can be completed in two semesters. This certificate is offered in the in-person hybrid residency format and requires attendance at monthly residency weekends in San Francisco, CA.

Explore the Certificate in Sustainable Business Practices Courses

MBA610 Systems, Sustainability, and Social Justice (4 units)

This first term course helps students understand the context within which business and government operate and what is unsustainable about our practices, policies, and mental models. The context includes understanding current events and trends in public policy, the myriad of complex social, environmental, and economic issues facing society, as well as some of the historical context of all of this. Students apply all these concepts to a particular issue of their choice and do a deep study of that issue and the system within which it resides. As part of this process, students develop and apply research methods, data analysis, stakeholder engagement strategies, systems thinking, and presentation skills. Lectures and readings provide an overview of the critical literacies in economic, financial, environmental, and social justice issues, the history of the sustainability movement, including the various social and economic movements from which the current practices of sustainability in business and society grew, and the key actors and the basic literature in the field. The course culminates in the exploration of business’ responsibility in embracing the quadruple bottom line and embedding the principles of sustainability, environmental stewardship, and social justice in strategic operations.

(Select One)

MBA614: Accounting (4 units) OR

MBA622: Data Analytics (4 units)

MBA614 Accounting (4 units)

The principles and tools of accounting are fundamental to understanding the financial reporting that leaders, investors, and stakeholders rely on to make decisions. This course explores the challenges and structure of traditional GAAP accounting through translating day-to-day business operations and more complex exchanges to accounting transactions and then to the financial statements that tell the organization’s economic story. But what is being counted, and what is left of out of this counting? What are the social justice and environmental implications of what is not being counted? Accounting information is used by decision-makers within the organization, as well as by external decision-makers. We will work with frameworks to extract useful information, analyze performance, and align organizational resources. To envision change, we will assess quantitative and qualitative aspects of the benefits and costs of engaging initiatives. Through case study analysis and discussions, we will frame issues and ground decisions with financial particulars and risks within the organization’s context.

 

MBA622 Data Analytics (4 units)

We live in a world where huge volumes of data are collected and used every day. These data and associated analyses help us understand and assess the state of the world and our environment. Given these valuable resources, how can we find the information we need, and how can we make use of the data? This course challenges students to discover, evaluate, and learn to use this information and data to promote social justice and sustainability. We will learn where and how to search for valuable data and how to critically analyze the information in the analyses. Data do not just inform but also serve as a basis for action. With that in mind, we will also learn the analytical tools that we can use to analyze choices and risks to make more socially effective decisions. These tools include probabilistic reasoning and statistical analysis. Finally, not only is data powerful because of its ability to help us learn to make better decisions, but also because of its ability to tell stories. We will learn how to use quantitative data to create compelling narratives and tell the stories we need to bring about the changes we want to see in the world.

(Select One)

MBA620: Cultivating Leadership Capacity (4 units) OR

MBA630: Leading Organizations and Change (4 units) OR

MSS6200, Civic Leadership, Diversity, and Systems Thinking (4 units)

MBA620 Cultivating Leadership Capacity (4 units)

This is the first of two courses exploring leadership capacities for complex change and transformation for self, teams, and organizations. This course will focus on leadership as a collaborative process and ongoing practice, guided by anti-racist, community, and feminist interventions that center justice and honor our interdependence in relationship to each other and the environment. Embracing the leadership as practice paradigm where we respect the process as much as the outcome, the course will provide opportunities to build and refine leadership skills in service of developing strategies for sustainable engagement and complex change across sectors and among diverse stakeholders. By examining the political and social structures that contribute to our understanding of leadership, this course will encourage critical reflexivity and a willingness to sit in discomfort in service of re-imagining leadership beyond the confines of neoliberalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy. We will explore how to transform systems of power and privilege, cultivate dialectical humanism and the generosity mindset comprised of trust, empathy, hope, and resilience that will define what kind of change is possible.

MBA630 Leading Organizations and Change (4 units)

This course frames organizations as complex adaptive systems with purpose, structures, boundaries, and dynamics, whether for-profit, non-profit, or community-based. It explores the influence of leadership in the overall dynamics of these complex systems and their emergent properties of organizational culture, employee engagement, people development, and environmental and social impact. Team dynamics are studied in the context of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the development of higher levels of psychological safety, collaboration, innovation, learning, wellbeing, and performance. Change in organizations is explored as an ongoing and iterative process emphasizing fairness in change equity, decision-making, and communication. Students have the opportunity to practice Agile as a team project management process and Action Inquiry as a method for personal and team change. Students also get to design an organizational operating system aimed to put people and the planet first and address the complexity needed to drive lasting social change.

 

MSS6200 Civic Leadership, Diversity, and Systems Thinking (4 units)

This course applies systems-thinking rubrics to community engagement and civic leadership. Students complete a minimum of twelve immersive civic experiences, including a self-selected portfolio of experiential learning (EL) activities that require direct civic engagement, systems analysis, evaluative research, and structured inquiry with intentional consideration of power, privilege, and the Common Good. Students engage in significant inter-residency fieldwork with local, national, and international organizations, with emphasis on cultural competency, allyship, practitioner teamwork, facilitative leadership, and sustainability as a function of environmental, economic, and social justice.

(Select One)

MBA648: Operations and Supply Chain Management (4 units) OR

MBA650: Strategy for Sustainability (4 units)

MBA648 Operations and Supply Chain Management (4 units)

Students learn how to navigate their way in the strategic, tactical, and operational decision-making environments of operations and supply chain management of service and manufacturing companies. Major topics are process analysis, cost and quality management, service systems management, inventory optimization, industrial ecology, life cycle assessment (LCA), and greenhouse gas emissions minimization, and the circular economy. Students learn how to apply concepts of probability, statistics, and optimization via the use of a number of quantitative operations management tools. They learn how to apply corporate codes of conduct to enforce high standards of social justice throughout a company’s supply chain. Experiential Learning Project: Students apply the arc of inquiry based on principles of pragmatism to fine-tune their skills with applied learning. They do this on a semester-long team project in which they work closely with a partner company or nonprofit organization. The focus of the project is evaluating alternative operations approaches using concepts and tools learned in class. From this analysis, students recommend the best approach and build operations plan to execute it.

 

MBA650 Strategy for Sustainability (4 units)

This course is designed to help students define the strategic questions/issue, analyze the context, and develop strategies for any organization – including either overall organizational strategy or sustainability strategy – and become proactive and more holistic strategic thinkers. We will introduce a diverse set of frameworks for analyzing, developing, and implementing effective strategies. We will use various concepts and thought experiments that define strategy as an integrated set of choices that position the business/organization in its complex contextual environment. We will combine insights from classic strategic frameworks with the new tools of emergent strategies to harness new opportunities and

deliver impacts in the context of environmental and social systems. The course provides conceptual tools and practical methodologies for catalyzing organizational transformation based on a strategic, systemic, and sustainable appreciation of change. This course will integrate traditional business concepts with sustainability as a platform for creativity, innovation, and competitive advantage for both new and established organizations. It also includes a mini-course on design thinking and scenario planning.

Sustainable Management Certificate with Concentrations

Expertise for Career Advancement and Lifelong Learning

The Sustainable Management Certificate from Presidio Graduate School instills vital knowledge and skills needed to integrate sustainable management solutions and systems thinking into any industry. We currently offer five concentrations in our 12-unit Certificate in Sustainable Management so you can choose the most relevant and inspiring path for you. This program is particularly suited for professionals and leaders who may already have a graduate degree and/or professional experience but are looking to evolve their toolkit with the latest research and methods in sustainable practice.   

 

Explore the Certificate in Sustainable Management Concentrations

The Sustainable Leadership concentration applies a strengths-based approach to fostering the essential individual leadership and communication capabilities needed for business and public administration managers. These capabilities support collaborating, influencing, and acting as an effective change agent for sustainability and social justice in any business, organization, or community. You’ll develop essential communication approaches and reflective practices to prepare you to deal successfully with conflict, virtual leadership, and the complex change management challenges in our evolving business climate. Individual and team effectiveness will be enhanced through self-assessment, feedback, and practice in a supportive environment. The program will also explore the meaning of leadership as it has evolved and will reveal new roles required to facilitate effective organizational and social transformation toward sustainability. 

Courses:

  • MBA610: Systems, Sustainability, and Social Justice (4 units)
  • MBA620: Cultivating Leadership Capacity (4 units)
  • MBA630: Leading Organizations and Change (prerequisite: MBA620) (4 units)

Course Descriptions:

  • MBA610: Systems, Sustainability, and Social Justice – 

This first term course helps students understand the context within which business and government operate and what is unsustainable about our practices, policies, and mental models. The context includes understanding current events and trends in public policy, the myriad of complex social, environmental, and economic issues facing society, and some of the historical context of all of this. Students apply all of these concepts to a particular issue of their choice and do a deep study of that issue and the system within which it resides. As part of this process, students develop and apply research methods, data analysis, stakeholder engagement strategies, systems thinking, and presentation skills. 
Lectures and readings provide an overview of the critical literacies in economic, financial, environmental, and social justice issues, the history of the sustainability movement, including the various social and economic movements from which the current practices of sustainability in business and society grew, and the key actors and the basic literature in the field. The course culminates in exploring business’ responsibility in embracing the quadruple bottom line and embedding the principles of sustainability, environmental stewardship, and social justice in strategic operations. 

  • MBA620: Cultivating Leadership Capacity

This is the first of a two courses exploring leadership capacities for complex change and transformation for self, teams, and organizations. This course will focus on leadership as a collaborative process and ongoing practice, guided by anti-racist, community, and feminist interventions that center justice, and honor our interdependence in relationship to each other and the environment. Embracing the leadership as practice paradigm where we respect process as much as outcome, the course will provide opportunities to build and refine leadership skills in service of developing strategies for sustainable engagement and complex change across sectors and among diverse stakeholders. By examining the political and social structures that contribute to our understanding of leadership, this course will encourage critical reflexivity and a willingness to sit in discomfort in service of re-imagining leadership beyond the confines of neoliberalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy. We will explore how to transform systems of power and privilege, cultivate dialectical humanism and the generosity mindset comprised of trust, empathy, hope, and resilience that will define what kind of change is possible. 

  • MBA630: Leading Organizations and Change 

This course frames organizations as complex adaptive systems with purpose, structures, boundaries, and dynamics, whether for-profit, nonprofit, or community-based. It explores the influence of leadership in the overall dynamics of these complex systems and their emergent properties of organizational culture, employee engagement, people development, and environmental and social impact. Team dynamics are studied in the context of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the development of higher levels of psychological safety, collaboration, innovation, learning, wellbeing, and performance. Change in organizations is explored as an ongoing and iterative process emphasizing fairness in change equity, decision-making, and communication. Students have the opportunity to practice Agile as a team project management process and Action Inquiry as a method for personal and team change. Students also get to design an organizational operating system to put people and the planet first and address the complexity needed to drive lasting social change. 

Moving to sustainable practices in fast-paced and complex operating environments requires a new set of leadership skills. The Sustainable Operations concentration will give you working knowledge of the sustainability practices and analysis tools available to optimize the delivery of products and services and design sustainable supply chains. You’ll master models for creating significant, long-lasting change in organizations and systems while demonstrating how sustainable practices can help them achieve a sustained competitive advantage. Through experiential learning, you will fine tune your skills while working with a company or organization to evaluate alternative operations approaches, and then create recommendations and a plan to execute the change.   

Courses:

  • MBA610: Systems, Sustainability, and Social Justice (4 units)
  • MBA634: Economics for Sustainability (4 units)
  • MBA648: Operations and Supply Chain Management (4 units)

Course Descriptions:

  • MBA610: Systems, Sustainability, and Social Justice

This first term course helps students understand the context within which business and government operate and what is unsustainable about our practices, policies, and mental models. The context includes understanding current events and trends in public policy, the myriad of complex social, environmental, and economic issues facing society, and some of the historical context of all of this. Students apply all of these concepts to a particular issue of their choice and do a deep study of that issue and the system within which it resides. As part of this process, students develop and apply research methods, data analysis, stakeholder engagement strategies, systems thinking, and presentation skills. 
Lectures and readings provide an overview of the critical literacies in economic, financial, environmental, and social justice issues, the history of the sustainability movement, including the various social and economic movements from which the current practices of sustainability in business and society grew, and the key actors and the basic literature in the field. The course culminates in exploring business’ responsibility in embracing the quadruple bottom line and embedding the principles of sustainability, environmental stewardship, and social justice in strategic operations. 

  • MBA634: Economics for Sustainability

This course is a one-semester introduction to the fundamentals of managerial economics and macroeconomics. The first part of this course will cover basic economic tools, focusing on analysis at the margin, supply and demand theory, production theory, capital theory, profit maximization, pricing strategy, game theory, cost minimization, firm structure, and behavioral economics. We will then consider GDP, money supply, unemployment, interest rates, and inflation. Throughout the course we will be viewing economic frameworks and theories through a critical lens, and will incorporate issues of sustainability, climate change, and social justice. 

  • MBA648: Operations and Supply Chain Management

Students learn how to navigate their way in the strategic, tactical, and operational decision-making environments of operations and supply chain management of service and manufacturing companies. Major topics are process analysis, cost and quality management, service systems management, inventory optimization, industrial ecology, life cycle assessment (LCA), and greenhouse gas emissions minimization, and the circular economy. Students learn how to apply concepts of probability, statistics, and optimization via the use of a number of quantitative operations management tools. They learn how to apply corporate codes of conduct to enforce high standards of social justice throughout a company’s supply chain. Experiential Learning Project: Students apply the arc of inquiry based on principles of pragmatism to fine-tune their skills with applied learning. They do this on a semester-long team project in which they work closely with a partner company or nonprofit organization. The focus of the project is evaluating alternative operations approaches using concepts and tools learned in-class. From this analysis, students recommend the best approach and build operations plan to execute it. 

The ability to inquire into the real needs of the individual and society, create sustainable value, and build programs for relevant, meaningful engagement has never been more essential. The Sustainability in Marketing concentration will help you develop the mindset of a modern marketer and learn the concepts and techniques that comprise a successful marketing strategy for a business, product, or idea. You will engage in quantitative and qualitative research that enables you to develop data-informed business and marketing recommendations. You’ll become a proactive and more holistic strategic thinker and discover a diverse set of frameworks for analyzing, developing, and implementing effective strategies that will enable you to thrive in the changing marketing landscape. The experiential learning component of this course will enable you to work with real-world businesses and develop business consulting skills along the way.  

Courses:

  • MBA610: Systems, Sustainability, and Social Justice (4 units)
  • MBA638: Marketing and Communications for Social Impact (4 units)
  • MBA650: Strategy for Sustainability (4 units)

Course Descriptions:

  • MBA610: Systems, Sustainability, and Social Justice

This first term course helps students understand the context within which business and government operate and what is unsustainable about our practices, policies, and mental models. The context includes understanding current events and trends in public policy, the myriad of complex social, environmental, and economic issues facing society, and some of the historical context of all of this. Students apply all of these concepts to a particular issue of their choice and do a deep study of that issue and the system within which it resides. As part of this process, students develop and apply research methods, data analysis, stakeholder engagement strategies, systems thinking, and presentation skills. 
Lectures and readings provide an overview of the critical literacies in economic, financial, environmental, and social justice issues, the history of the sustainability movement, including the various social and economic movements from which the current practices of sustainability in business and society grew, and the key actors and the basic literature in the field. The course culminates in exploring business’ responsibility in embracing the quadruple bottom line and embedding the principles of sustainability, environmental stewardship, and social justice in strategic operations. 

  • MBA638: Marketing and Communications for Social Impact

This course explores how organizations can thrive in a changing marketing communication landscape. Students develop the mindset of a marketer and learn the concepts and techniques that comprise a successful marketing strategy for a business, product, or idea. The semester progresses through learning how to analyze social and economic forces and context, understand customers, position, and apply marketing communication frameworks and tools. Students practice effectively communicating marketing recommendations for action. Most importantly, students will gain the mindset of a marketer — an ability to inquire into the real needs of the individual and society, create sustainable value, and to build programs for relevant, meaningful engagement. This course has an Experiential Learning component. In the Experiential Learning Project students work in teams to develop a marketing plan for a partner organization. Teams consult with their partners to define the scope and objectives of the project. Next, they research the marketing situation faced by their partner, develop customer profiles, and create a marketing plan to build measurable engagement and influence. At the end of the semester, teams present the research findings and marketing plan to their partner to get backing for the implementation of their recommendations. 

  • MBA650: Strategy for Sustainability

This course is designed to help students define the strategic questions/issues, analyze the context, and develop strategies for any organization – including either overall organizational strategy or sustainability strategy – and become proactive and more holistic strategic thinkers. We will introduce a diverse set of frameworks for analyzing, developing, and implementing effective strategies. We’ll use various concepts and thought experiments that define strategy as an integrated set of choices that position the business/organization in its complex contextual environment. We will combine insights from classic strategic frameworks with the new tools of emergent strategies to harness new opportunities and deliver impacts in the context of environmental and social systems. The course provides conceptual tools and practical methodologies for catalyzing organizational transformation based on a strategic, systemic, and sustainable appreciation of change. This course will integrate traditional business concepts with sustainability as a platform for creativity, innovation, and competitive advantage for both new and established organizations. It also includes a mini-course on design thinking and scenario planning. 

The Sustainability and Economics concentration focuses on the fundamentals of managerial economics and financial decision-making in for-profit and non-profit organizations. You will develop techniques to analyze various problems involving optimization, uncertainty, and financial management. The program will enable you to view economic and financial frameworks and theories through a critical lens, incorporating issues of sustainability, climate change, and social justice.  

Courses:

  • MBA610: Systems, Sustainability, and Social Justice (4 units)
  • MBA634: Economics for Sustainability (4 units)
  • MBA654: Finance (4 units)

Course descriptions:

  • MBA610: Systems, Sustainability, and Social Justice

This first term course helps students understand the context within which business and government operate and what is unsustainable about our practices, policies, and mental models. The context includes understanding current events and trends in public policy, the myriad of complex social, environmental, and economic issues facing society, and some of the historical context of all of this. Students apply all of these concepts to a particular issue of their choice and do a deep study of that issue and the system within which it resides. As part of this process, students develop and apply research methods, data analysis, stakeholder engagement strategies, systems thinking, and presentation skills. 
Lectures and readings provide an overview of the critical literacies in economic, financial, environmental, and social justice issues, the history of the sustainability movement, including the various social and economic movements from which the current practices of sustainability in business and society grew, and the key actors and the basic literature in the field. The course culminates in exploring business’ responsibility in embracing the quadruple bottom line and embedding the principles of sustainability, environmental stewardship, and social justice in strategic operations. 

  • MBA634: Economics for Sustainability

This course is a one-semester introduction to the fundamentals of managerial economics and macroeconomics. The first part of this course will cover basic economic tools, focusing on analysis at the margin, supply and demand theory, production theory, capital theory, profit maximization, pricing strategy, game theory, cost minimization, firm structure, and behavioral economics. We will then consider GDP, money supply, unemployment, interest rates, and inflation. Throughout the course we will be viewing economic frameworks and theories through a critical lens, and will incorporate issues of sustainability, climate change, and social justice. 

  • MBA654: Finance

This course covers the basics of financial decision-making in for-profit and non-profit companies. The financial decisions in businesses are classified in two ways: as financing decisions (raising cash) or as investment decisions (spending it), and we will study the theory and practice of both. The course is designed to have a broad appeal, as it develops techniques that can be used to analyze various problems involving time, uncertainty, and financial management. 
The topics to be covered include asset valuation, the goals of financial managers, the relationship between risk and rates of return, the evaluation of investment projects, the effects of debt financing on stock values, and the analysis of financial statements. Also, ideas from behavioral finance will be integrated where appropriate. Students will work in groups on case studies to apply the tools learned to solve real-world business problems. 

This concentration enables you to design your own certificate based on your interests and professional needs. The certificate begins with MBA610: Systems, Sustainability, and Social Justice course and you will work with the Academic Dean to determine the additional course offerings that make sense for your journey.  

Our electives change each academic year, so you’re likely to find electives that are interesting and relevant to you.  

A list of courses can be found here: https://www.presidio.edu/academics/mba-in-sustainability/curriculum/  

** Disclaimer: Electives change yearly so some of these courses may not be offered each year, but there will be other relevant electives to choose from. 

“As a career non-profit professional, I immediately felt welcome at Presidio. The integration of social justice into the Certificate Program curriculum was a critical factor in my decision to enroll, and I'm so glad I did. The first course I took was rigorous, intellectually stimulating, and taught by a highly experienced and well-respected sustainability expert. In general, the sustainability ethos woven into all the materials has unquestionably changed the way I view my work and my personal choices. I expect my lens will only continue to expand as I go deeper into the program. ”
Rachel Eisner
Director of Development and Communication, Civicorps
Bryan Stubbs
“The Presidio Certificate Program in Sustainability Management was key in sharpening and updating my skills, and the investment has paid for itself multiple times over. The Certificate Program allowed me to update my skills, grow my impact, and build a powerful network.”
Bryan Stubbs
Executive Director and President Cleveland Water Alliance

Learning Methods

Our Certificate programs are delivered using a hybrid model that draws from the best features of both distance and in-person learning models. Through our virtual class programs, we are able to offer wider access to our unique programming, and via our monthly, in-person sessions students gain the opportunity to engage with peers and enhance their network. Students are required to attend monthly weekend residencies of intensive interpersonal instruction in a classroom setting. Video conference calls, learning forums, readings, and team assignments and projects with real companies connect the residencies. A typical certificate student registers for one or two courses per semester. Students attend residency weekends for one or two days a month, and each class is a full seven hours of instruction.

Additional Program Details

Anyone interested in pursuing a certificate at Presidio Graduate School must first complete an undergraduate degree and then submit an application for admission.

Middle aged white student

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