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Director's Log: new research grants awarded, the NFL Draft, Richard Branson, and the largest stu

Too much time has passed in busy-ness, travel, fundraising, business planning, and wrestling with Powerpoint. I owe the growing Triple Bottom Lion community an update. Here are some quick hits:

Above is a photo with two incredible students Maddy Mitchell and Sam Anawalt who organize the Sustainability Showcase, a weekly speaker series spearheaded by Doug Goodstein at the Sustainability Institute and now run by students. My talk "Serious Business: Four Ways to Restore Nature, Respect People and Repair Our Economic System" and all the others are recorded and made available.


The Sustainability Research Working Group (pictured above) reviewed the largest number of submissions ever for our annual Sustainability Research Grant Program. Two submissions are being rewarded with funding:

  • Working Together or Apart? The Interaction Between Financial and Social Activists and Corporate Social Responsibility (Mark DesJardine, Asst Professor, Management & Organization)

  • Sharing Economy and Resilience to Natural Disasters: Evidence from AirBnb Markets (Brent Ambrose, Smeal Professor of Risk Management; Jiro Yoshida, Assoc Professor of Business, and Maxence Valentin, PhD Student in Real Estate)

View past projects, guidelines and faculty expertise.


Pictured above: New members of the B Team, Isabelle Kocher, CEO of Engie, and Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Chobani.

Thanks to Smeal alum and Board of Visitors member Jean Oelwang, we are forging a connection with Virgin Unite and its various initiatives like 100% Human at Work and the B Team. Virgin Unite was launched by Richard Branson as the social entrepreneurship foundation of Virgin. This week​ I had the pleasure of meeting with Leah Seligman (pictured right) Director of the Net Zero Initiative at the B Team, a collection of impressive leaders from industry and NGO's like Richard Branson, Indra Nooyi (former CEO of PepsiCo ) and Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Minister of Finance in Nigeria and Coordinating Minister for the Economy.

The B Team is a not-for-profit initiative formed by a global group of business leaders to catalyze a better way of doing business, for the wellbeing of people and the planet.

Leah and I talked about B Team and B schools working together globally to transform business practice and business education. This could be big. We talk again in April and will begin to cook up some ideas. Stay tuned.


The Sustainability Institute is forming a network of sustainability champions at each of our 15 academic colleges and 24 campus locations. I got to sit down with my counterpart in the College of Arts and Architecture, Dr. Mihyun Kang, research professor whose individual work focuses on sustainable interior design and design for special populations. I was able to share our experience at Smeal and provide some perspective and advice on how A&A might approach this work. Obviously, they play a HUGE role in the redesign of products, buildings, landscapes and in deploying the power of the arts to affect personal and social change.


What do the College Football Playoffs, the Super Bowl and the NFL Draft have in common?

A. Penn State

B. Sustainability

C. Smeal College of Business

D. All of the Above

Did you choose D? You are right!

The Sustainability Institute has partnered with the NFL Environment Program (yes, there is such a thing) to further their efforts to incorporate sustainability into their operations and community engagement. Smeal professors and students have played a pivotal role. Over 30 students have been on the ground helping with recycling, composting and various community engagement efforts.

Recent meetings are focused at the NFL Draft coming up in April in Nashville. Smeal is providing students and working with partners in SI and the College of Health and Human Development's RPTM Program. The number one overall pick in the 2019 draft is....sustainability!


Met recently with Smeal students Adam Capuano and Trey Williams (pictured above) of the Net Impact's Smeal Citizenship Conference, Penn State's largest student-run sustainability event. Check out the conference team...they do an incredible job.

To date, the conference has engaged over 6,000 Smeal students. It is a major logistical feat to pull it off each year and these students along with Ron Johnson in M&O and others do a lot of heavy lifting to pull it off. Several Sustainability Advisory Board members are speaking this year including Lisa Conway, VP of Sustainability, Interface Americas, this year's keynote speaker!


More to tell but that's enough for now. Gotta run. Preparing to launch new online grad certificate in Business Sustainability Strategy. Starts May 14th!

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