Posted April 12, 2011

Sustainability meets the bottom line at annual business showcase

Green by Design
Ryan S. Brandenberg /Temple University

Ann Frey, HP marketing manager, critical facilities management (left) and Pamela P. Lach, director of marketing for HP Technology Services, talk with Kashan Ahmed, a member of Students for Responsible Business, during an April 6 corporate fair at Alter Hall showcasing sustainable business practices.

Fox School of Business student groups regularly use Alter Hall’s atrium to sell T-shirts, cupcakes or soft pretzels. On a recent Monday, business was brisk for four students staffing a table stacked with three-ring binders, reams of paper and dozens of pencils. But this wasn’t a fundraiser. It was a free for all.

The April 4 giveaway of gently used office supplies marked the opening day of Green by Design, a weeklong showcase of sustainable business practice hosted by the Fox School and the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management at Temple University.

Now in its second year, Green by Design expanded to attract more participation from Temple’s other schools and colleges. For example, Langan Engineering senior associate Chris Hager, the week’s first speaker, presented on environmentally responsible design, a subject suitable for students in the Tyler School of Art. On April 6, School of Tourism students hosted a screening of the film comedy Without a Paddle to highlight the new eco-trend of adventure tourism. Event proceeds supported the American Red Cross’ Japan relief fund.

The week of events also promoted experiential learning. Student teams participating in the third annual Target Case Competition were asked to design a sustainable gift card. And students in Debbie Campbell’s marketing sustainability class attempted to solve problems like, “How do you promote a Temple Office Supply Swap?”

To get answers, the university’s Computer Recycling Center partnered with Campbell, Fox’s senior assistant dean of undergraduate programs, to enlist her students to raise awareness of an ongoing exchange program for office supplies.

“It’s really an untapped market,” junior marketing major Thomas Lynch said as he distributed surveys about the program. “We just have to get it in front of people’s faces.”

Green by Design also included a day of sustainability discussions in the classroom and presentations from CIGNA and Wawa sustainability directors. On April 6, Students for Responsible Business (SRB) and Fox’s Center for Student Professional Development hosted a corporate fair featuring sustainability initiatives from more than 15 companies, ranging from PhillyCarShare and the Philadelphia Zoo to HP and KPMG.

“It’s important for students to understand the direction our economy needs to go in — to promote sustainability and ethics — so students pursue careers that have a triple bottom line instead of just filling their wallets,” said SRB Vice President Victoria Vicente, referencing people, planet and profit as three elements of success. “There’s so much opportunity in conducting business this way.”

Students like Vicente are not only organizing sustainability-themed events. They’re also prompting faculty to innovate curriculum, including a new minor in corporate social responsibility offered by the Fox School.

“They are genuinely interested. They are driving the demand for curriculum, interesting events and outreach,” said Julie Fesenmaier, a Fox administrator and School of Tourism instructor who helped coordinate Green by Design. “Our students are genuinely committed to this, and we’re doing a lot in response to them.”