SUST 750: Sustainability Capstone
SUST 750 is the final culminating experience of my Sustainability Dual Major. Working in interdisciplinary groups, we are utilizing the knowledge we have gained in our years of Sustainability, primary major, and elective courses to tackle different specific sustainability issues. Group members Hannah, Lauren, and I had the opportunity to use our interdisciplinary knowledge and passion for sustainability to consult and help our client, a local mutual bank, become a Certified Benefit or B Corporation. B Corporations are companies certified by the nonprofit organization B Lab as businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
As an Economics and Sustainability dual major, I have been interested in corporate social responsibility for a while. My passion for CSR was sparked by books like “The Good Company”, written by Robert Girling and “Let My People Go Surfing”, written by Yvon Chouinard. I feel that one of the main failures of the free market is how it enables unsustainable practices, firms want to lower costs and maximize profit, driving the desire for cheap, disposable materials, labor, and energy. Scientists have told us that we are facing the consequences of wasteful, industrialized civilization in the form of climate change. In the recent past, consumer preferences have been shifting towards holding firms to a higher social and environmental standard—viewing the relationship of business and society through a stakeholder’s perspective. The 20th century conceptualization of maximizing profits for shareholders is shifting to maximizing shared value for all stakeholders. Businesses that are holding themselves to higher standards of social responsibility and striving to align company values with benefitting society and the environment, making sustainable initiatives a priority inspire me
I am so thankful that I got to be a part of the B Impact Clinic as part of my Sustainability dual major capstone project. I have become familiar with the B Impact Assessment, the tool made and used by B Lab to evaluate businesses policies and procedures for governance, workers, community, environment, and customers. As consultants of the local mutual bank, we have helped them gather accurate documentation to answer the exhaustive list of questions provided by B Lab in order to gain the B Corp certification. In addition to the valuable skills I have gained through this consulting experience, I’ve enjoyed working with Hannah, Lauren, Olivia, and our mentors Fiona Wilson and Devon. More information about the B Corp Clinic can be found here, and our final paper here (insert when paper is done).
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