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Summer 2012 sustainable business program for high school students

News + Events : Summer 2012 sustainable business program for high school students


Nearly 30 high school students spent a week in June 2012, at San Francisco State University’s Downtown Campus learning about sustainability and how businesses can help solve environmental and social issues.

The program was organized by San Francisco State University’s Center for Ethical and Sustainable Business in collaboration with the San Francisco Unified School District and with support from the Silicon Valley Bank Foundation.

Teens learn the business of sustainability

The students who participated in the program from June 4 to June 8 were a mixture of incoming seniors and juniors representing six public high schools in San Francisco. The students were put into five teams with mixed high school affiliations to work on the sustainable business aspects of products such as denim jeans, postal packaging, clothes, plastic water bottles, diapers and chocolate.

The curriculum introduced students to the social, environmental and economic dimensions of sustainable business. Students learned how to analyze a product's impact, including the raw materials used, how it is manufactured and how consumers use and dispose of it. The program was a transformative experience for many of the students. It changed the way they think about the products they buy, how they use them and the people in the supply chain who work on farms and in factories.

Program leadership and development

The program was led by Assistant Professor of Management Denise Kleinrichert and the instructors included Chair and Professor of Management Bruce Paton, Professor of Management Murray Silverman and Associate Professor of Consumer and Family Studies Constance Ulasewicz.

Also, Deanna Robinson, vice president social responsibility at Gap Inc., assisted in an afternoon study of the global supply chain of clothing, from cotton to jeans and tops. Eric Lewis, SFUSD–High School Area Team, Science Support, organized the student application process and attendance at the workshop.

San Francisco State Sustainable MBA alumnae Barbara Boccia and Sheetal Kapani assisted with the development of the program and the review of the students’ culminating group presentations each year.

The Center for Ethical and Sustainable Business at SF State

The Center for Ethical and Sustainable Business was established in fall 2010 to provide a hub for sustainability research, teaching and outreach. The Center aims to equip business students to be leaders and change agents in sustainable business.

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