Inspiring business school partnerships with sustainability at the core


Business schools are natural partners for many organisations, from big corporations to charities and non-profits. These partnerships can bring successful internship opportunities for their students, international study trips, consulting projects as part of courses, and, ultimately, recruitment opportunities for their graduates.

However, today, partnerships at business schools are going beyond this and focusing on sustainability and tackling climate change. Below, business school PR experts Olivia Nieberg and Stephanie Mullins from BlueSky Education outline some inspiring business school partnerships where sustainability is at the forefront:

POLIMI Graduate School of Management

POLIMI Graduate School of Management recently announced a partnership with the ‘Green Future Project’ to finance high-impact sustainable projects. The objective is to mitigate part of the “carbon footprint” generated by its employees over the course of a year.

Green Future Project offers the opportunity to finance the regeneration and conservation of natural reserves, the development of renewable energy plants, and the regeneration of marine habitats to companies that want to engage in concrete sustainability actions.

Sharing common sustainability objectives is what convinced POLIMI GSoM to collaborate with the Green Future Project. Through this partnership, the school will support the regeneration of the degraded mangrove forest in Marovolavo in Madagascar, the planting of native tree species, the production of clean energy generated by the Tamil Nadu wind farm located in India, and forest protection of the Canadé reserve, in Ecuador, one of the most important biodiversity hotspots in the world.

University of Sussex Business School

This summer, the University of Sussex Business School joined forces with local businesses and Brighton and Hove City Council to train South Korean students in sustainability and innovation.

Students and faculty from Seoul National University were taught by Sussex faculty from the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) within the Business School. The programme included visits and presentations by sustainable energy provider Rampion Offshore Wind Farm and Brighton and Hove City Council’s Circular Economy programme.

The students were able to learn about the latest cutting-edge research, theory, and practice in topics such as eco-innovation, system innovation, science technology and innovation, sustainability, public policy and health, decarbonisation and sustainable energy systems.

The University of Sussex is ranked 10th in the UK for delivering on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and partnerships like this allow the business school to share their deep knowledge of sustainability and understanding of innovation studies.

King’s Business School

From September 2023, King’s Business School and the Energy and Environment Alliance (EEA) began to offer an executive education programme intended for senior hospitality leaders.

Co-created in partnership with global industry experts, this partnership will now give managers the knowledge and insight they need to integrate ESG into their businesses.  It will give a thorough grounding in the scientific case for greater environmental sustainability, core concepts such as inclusive innovation, as well as in the regulatory framework and relevant reporting options.

Helping the hospitality sector to reduce their global carbon emissions, partnerships like these are incredibly valuable if leaders within this sector are to make positive changes within their industry.

NEOMA Business School

NEOMA Business School aims to educate their students about the complexity of issues related to responsible business whilst also empowering them to take action.

This is reflected in their new “MSc in Sustainable Transformation“. In this programme, students will acquire knowledge and develop skills to proactively address sustainability issues and implement sustainability practices in a variety of organisations, ranging from start-ups, SMEs and large corporations to non-profit organisations and public administrations.

The curriculum includes various components, including the “Global 2 in Corporate & Social Responsibility (CSR)” programme, which, crucially, allows students to study for two semesters in two countries and two universities that NEOMA has partnered with, all renowned for their CSR expertise.

The school is proud to have several partners at the forefront of environmental and societal issues, such as BI Norwegian Business School in Norway, the University of Jönköping in Sweden, Jyväskylä and Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland, and HEC Montréal in Canada.

Hult International Business School

Hult International Business School has an inspiring Sustainability Impact Lab, which aims to connect practitioners and researchers at the forefront of industry and society transitions towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The business school’s goal is to help these groups work together to speed up those transitions by advancing knowledge and learning in organisations and across industry ecosystems. Impressively, previous Hult research projects in this focus area have involved partnerships with the UN Global Compact PRME, Business in the Community, and the International Business Leaders Forum.

Ultimately, these partnerships are giving hope during a time of great uncertainty. As climate change continues to have an immense impact on all aspects of society, business school communities are now forming partnerships to make a positive impact, as well as teaching their students how to become sustainably driven business leaders.

For additional insights, trends and perspectives about sustainability programs in business schools, visit the conversation here.