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Antioch Green MBA Program: Earth Systems Integration

Antioch Green MBA Program: Earth Systems Integration

I have been reflecting about how lucky I am to have found my way to Antioch New England’s Green MBA program, and figured it was time to share a more in-depth analysis of the program and the key aspects of the program that I believe are shaping my future as a sustainable business professional.

First of all, Antioch is a wonderful learning community. The Environmental Science programs are top notch. The faculty is already committed to sustainability. I think that this foundation makes the Green MBA program really stand out. “Green” or “Sustainable” are not new concepts to the school. The program doesn’t tack on a few courses that read a Triple Bottom Line text or two and call itself a Green MBA. The environmental concepts are woven throughout the coursework. There are quite a few Green MBA’s popping up now, and some of them appear to be a bit dubious in their claim to be a Green MBA.

Complex Systems

The most important concept I feel I have learned at Antioch is the “Earth Systems” lens or approach to organizational sustainability. Earth Systems thinking takes complex systems thinking and adds a natural component. For those of you that aren’t aware, complex systems thinking is based on the notion that the relationships in a system are not linear – that there is a complex set of interrelations that makes up the system. The Earth Systems approach shares this notion, and also draws on the natural environment for more understanding of how these relationships work. I have come to believe that this Earth Systems approach may be the true backbone of sustainability as a direct result of my education at Antioch. I am looking forward to helping organizations use this approach to gain a strategic competitive advantage.

The Earth Systems concepts are so crucial to the success of a sustainable business. Some of the most obvious Earth Systems concepts that apply to an organization are:

Finding a niche.
Growing at a rate that can be supported by the larger system in which the organism (organization) is nested.
Interrelated, complex systems interact with each other in sometimes unpredictable ways.
Sharing resources.
Efficiency – the energy wasters are selected out in an Earth System. In an Earth System, an organism (organization!) is never too big to fail.

These are just a few of the Earth Systems concepts that I see as being integral parts of a sustainable organization. We are constantly using the Earth Systems lens at Antioch, and I am grateful for the opportunity to apply it constantly.

What is your organization doing to make sure it remains right sized? To respect the environment to ensure it’s own well-being? What could you do better? Does your organization understand Earth Systems thinking?

One Response to Antioch Green MBA Program: Earth Systems Integration

  1. Good stuff indeed! I absolutely agree with your take on how Earth Systems is applied throughout the program. Glad you started this Zack, I will be a faithful follower. Blog on playa!

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