ANN ARBOR, Mich.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business today announced details on several new and expanded initiatives in the Winter 2015 term that will build on the school’s legacy as a leader in socially-minded business education. The school’s mission to develop leaders who make a positive difference in the world continues to attract top students from around the world who believe that business can and should be a force for good. As such, Michigan Ross continues to develop new and innovative ways for students to get hands-on experience in social impact and sustainable business practices.
One notable program currently underway is the Social Impact Challenge, an annual action-based learning experience organized by Ross’ Center for Social Impact (CSI). The challenge not only exposes students to the role that business can play in driving positive change, but also gives students the opportunity to engage in dialogue and practical problem solving with mission-driven leaders in Detroit. Over the course of two week experience, business school students come together to collaborate with a multidisciplinary team of graduate students from across U-M, applying skills and classroom learning to a pressing social issue in Detroit where they have the opportunity to impact an organization that makes a difference in the community.
This year’s Social Impact Challenge, hosted in partnership with the City of Detroit, Detroit Future City, German Marshall Fund, and Vanguard CDC, centers around creative redevelopment of Detroit's abandoned industrial buildings. Teams will design proposals to redevelop the Fisher Body Plant 21, an abandoned building in Detroit’s North End community, transforming it into a hub for creativity and the arts while also creating jobs and economic opportunity for the city. Finalists will present their recommendations to a panel of judges made up of Detroit leaders and business executives who will determine a winning team which earns a $2,500 cash prize to be used to implement their idea. The finalist presentations event, which is free and open to the public, will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 18 at 5:00pm in the Ross Colloquium.
Other recent and upcoming social impact and sustainability efforts of note include:
- Mo’Tech Launch – This for-profit, social enterprise in Detroit, which could launch as early as this summer, will help small businesses create a social media presence and establish tech literacy programs for local youth. The concept is an output of the 2014 Ross Impact Challenge, a year-long initiative organized by the Sanger Leadership Center with the mission of creating a profitable venture with a social mission in Detroit. Through workshops, community conversations, team challenges and pitch competitions, the annual Impact Challenge engages 1,500 students across five academic programs. A Kickstarter campaign launched Feb. 10 to help raise funds for Mo’Tech.
- Michigan Business Challenge Social Impact Track – The annual cross-university business plan competition will feature a new Social Impact track this year, focused on promising new business ideas that have a social and/or environmental focus. On Feb. 20, a $15,000 top prize sponsored by the Zell Lurie Institute, Erb Institute and CSI will be awarded to one of four finalists, which include companies that address healthcare, education, and sustainable product sourcing.
- “Frontier Sustainability” Lecture and Workshop - On Friday, Feb. 13, the Erb Institute is hosting Aron Cramer, President and CEO of BSR, for its C-Suite Speaker Series, which brings senior company and nonprofit executives to campus to share strategies and real-life experiences in managing sustainability risks and leveraging new business opportunities. The lecture and accompanying workshop, “Frontier Sustainability – The Challenge (and Promise) of Sustainability in Emerging Markets,” will feature Cramer’s insight regarding corporate responsibility strategies that drive business success from his book, Sustainable Excellence: The Future of Business in a Fast-Changing World.
- Sustainability Projects in Emerging Markets – These vary geography, industry and mission. One recent trip, for example brought MBA/MS students to Nicaragua to help local farmers capture more value from the coffee they grow by learning firsthand how small-scale famers earn money and how entrepreneurs in the coffee industry are challenging existing business models.
Ross currently offers students more than 50 social impact and sustainability related opportunities, from coursework, clubs and competitions, to events and action-based learning projects. Ross was one of the earliest schools to establish a major center in sustainability, when in 1996 it founded the Erb Institute, a partnership between Ross and Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) that allows students to earn an MBA and an MS in three years. Less than a decade later, Ross launched the Center for Positive Organizations in 2002. The school also boasts the first student-led venture fund focused on impact investing: the Social Venture Fund, which was founded in 2009. Most recently, it became home to the Sanger Leadership Center, thanks to a $20 million gift in January from Stephen W. and Karen Sanger to expand the school’s successful leadership development programming.
About Michigan Ross
The Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan is a vibrant and distinctive learning community grounded in the principle that business can be an extraordinary vehicle for positive change in today's dynamic global economy. The Ross School of Business mission is to develop leaders who make a positive difference in the world. Through thought and action, members of the Ross community drive change and innovation that improves business and society.
Ross is consistently ranked among the world's leading business schools. Academic degree programs include the BBA, MBA, Part-time MBA (Evening and Weekend formats), Executive MBA, Global MBA, Master of Accounting, Master of Supply Chain Management, Master of Management, and PhD. In addition, the school delivers open-enrollment and custom executive education programs targeting general management, leadership development, and strategic human resource management.