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The World's 15 Top Business Schools For Making A Social Impact

Business schools may play a leading role in advancing environmental and social goals

By  Seb Murray

Tue Oct 17 2017

With more MBAs looking for “meaning” and “impact” in their careers and more companies mixing environmental, social and economic goals, business schools may have a leading role to play in advancing these ideals. After all, they are educating the world’s future leaders and many are moving beyond a traditional focus on shareholder value to consider the impact of enterprise on the planet more generally. Their academic research may also influence the decisions companies make.

The 2017 Better World MBA ranking highlights this shift, with business schools across the globe placing sustainability firmly on their curricula. Top of the ranking, released this week, is the UK’s University of Exeter Business School, followed by Canada’s Schulich School of Business and Warwick Business School, also in Britain. All three schools scored top marks for their institutes and faculty research. 

Also high in the ranking are Denmark’s Copenhagen Business School and the Palumbo Donahue School of Business of the US. 

New schools also entering the ranking, such as University of Edinburgh Business School in the UK and Canada’s Peter B Gustavson School of Business.

In recent years business schools have placed a greater emphasis on “social impact”, a response to the demands of millennials to seek more meaning in their careers, and the growth of job opportunities in that space. 

For example, Ideas for Action, a joint initiative from the World Bank and Wharton School in the US, sees students create innovative strategies to finance the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Winners have the opportunity to present their ideas to the Bank and receive support from an incubator at Wharton.

Many business schools see such initiatives as a core part of their curriculum. Dana Radcliffe, senior lecturer in business ethics at Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management, says: “Since the purpose of MBA programs is to prepare future leaders to exercise power, we must make them aware of the importance of using that power responsibly and foster in them the habit and skills of ethical reflection necessary for responsible leadership.”

But with some schools still treating such courses as side-lined electives, the Better World MBA ranking provides a good rundown of the schools which seemingly are best for those destined to make an impact. Here are the top-15:

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