Business: environment and social responsibility (BESR) is a 12-credit graduate/professional certificate that offers a suite of courses addressing the interrelations between business and its natural and social environment. Its goal is to provide graduate students the fundamental knowledge and skills to sustainably manage enterprises that integrate economic, environmental, and social dimensions into their decision-making.

Students in the program will acquire knowledge of (1) the causes of environmental and social challenges as relating to business, and respective policy and business responses; (2) frameworks and measurement systems for incorporating sustainability concerns into business analysis and decision-making; and (3) domains in which business activities and sustainability concerns intersect, and the management of these intersections. They further will acquire skills to (1) analyze the causes of and responses to environmental and social problems, as well as develop and implement solutions to these problems as managers and policymakers; (2) identify and apply frameworks for effectively incorporating sustainability considerations into the analysis and decision-making of managers and policymakers; and (3) analyze where and how environmental and social issues intersect with business, as well as develop and implement solutions for managing these intersections.

As determined by each student’s individual course path, students will acquire deeper knowledge and skills in select domains such as systems designs, risk management, green real estate, and more. Students are also encouraged to participate in a variety of events and activities that provide a forum to exchange ideas and connect the business community with students and faculty interested in sustainability.

The required foundation course, advanced business sustainability coursework, and electives from across the campus need to tally a minimum of 12 credits. The slate of coursework options available for fulfilling the certificate program is shown in the table below. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in related non-credit sustainability experiences via competitions, conferences, and speaker events.

The foundation course has no prerequisites and is open to all graduate students on campus. Students will: 1) take one required foundation course (M H R/​ENVIR ST  710 Challenges & Solutions in Business Sustainability 2) choose at least three (3) additional credits from a list of School of Business advanced business sustainability coursework, and 3) select up to six (6) credits of additional courses from other elective coursework.

Required Foundational Coursework
M H R/​ENVIR ST  710 Challenges & Solutions in Business Sustainability (spring) (Formerly listed as M H R 765: Sustainable Enterprise Management)3
School of Business - Advanced Business Sustainability Classes choose at least 3 credits from list
OTM 770 Sustainable Approaches to System Improvement4
REAL EST 651 Green - Sustainable Development3
R M I 650 Sustainability, Environmental and Social Risk Management3
Other Elective Coursework Up to 6 credits from other elective coursework can be counted towards the required 12 certificate credits
School of Business
ACCT I S 700 Financial Accounting3
ACCT I S 710 Managerial Accounting3
ACCT I S 771 Seminar in Strategic Cost Management and Performance Measurement3
FINANCE 700 Introduction to Financial Management3
M H R 728 Bargaining, Negotiating and Dispute Settlement for Managers3
M H R 723 Business Strategy3
MARKETNG 700 Marketing Management3
OTM 700 Operations Management3
OTM 732 Economics for Managers3
R M I 700 Principles of Risk Management3
R M I/​GEN BUS  701 Managing Legal Risks3
ECON/​A A E/​ENVIR ST/​URB R PL  671 Energy Economics3
College of Agricultural & Life Sciences
A A E/​ECON/​F&W ECOL  531 Natural Resource Economics3
A A E 643 Foundations of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics3
A A E/​ECON/​ENVIR ST/​URB R PL  671 Energy Economics3
A A E 729 The Microdynamics of Environment and Development3
A A E 760 Frontiers in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics 13
A A E 762 Frontiers in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics 23
F&W ECOL/​A A E/​ENVIR ST  652 Decision Methods for Natural Resource Managers3-4
College of Agricultural & Life Sciences / College of Letters & Science
URB R PL/​A A E/​ECON/​ENVIR ST  671 Energy Economics3
URB R PL/​ECON/​PUB AFFR  734 Regional Economic Problem Analysis3
URB R PL 841 Urban Functions, Spatial Organization and Environmental Form2-3
URB R PL/​ENVIR ST  843 Land Use Policy and Planning3
URB R PL/​ENVIR ST  865 Water Resources Institutions and Policies3
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
ENVIR ST/​SOIL SCI  575 Assessment of Environmental Impact3
ENVIR ST/​A A E/​ECON/​URB R PL  671 Energy Economics3
ENVIR ST 707 Professional Skills for Global Systems Analysis1
ENVIR ST 977 Sustainable Development - Integral Perspective3
College of Engineering
E P D 660 Core Competencies of Sustainability3
E P D 661 Industrial Ecology: Sustainability Tools in Context3
Law School
LAW 845 Water Rights Law2-3
LAW 848 Introduction to Environmental Law3
LAW 918 Selected Problems in International Law-Seminar "International Environmental Law & Policy" or "Climate Change, Human Rights & the Environment"2-3
LAW 988 Selected Problems in Environmental Law-Seminar "Natural Resources Law" or "Agricultural Law & the Environment"2-3
LAW 989 Environmental Law and Practice3
La Follette School of Public Affairs
PUB AFFR/​ENVIR ST/​POLI SCI  866 Global Environmental Governance3
PUB AFFR/​A A E/​ENVIR ST/​POP HLTH  881 Benefit-Cost Analysis3
School of Medicine and Public Health
POP HLTH/​ENVIR ST  560 Health Impact Assessment of Global Environmental Change3
School of Education
CURRIC 975 General Seminar2-3

The list of electives is dynamic and will be adjusted as new courses are being offered and others dropped. For the most up-to-date listing, check the certificate's website. Students may request to substitute listed electives with courses that are currently not listed. Such a request requires that the student explains how the substitute class meets the learning outcomes of the certificate and assists the student in reaching his or her individual goals for taking the certificate. The request requires approval by the certificate director in coordination with the Certificate Oversight Committee.

For courses with access restricted to School of Business students, non-business school students may select equivalent open-access lower-level courses numbered 300 and above (e.g., substitute M H R 723 Business Strategy with M H R 423 Strategic Management).

Extracurricular Activities (Certificate students are encouraged, but not required, to engage in extracurricular activities that enhance the certificate’s learning outcomes.) These include:

  • Speaker events such as the Business Sustainability Speaker Series and Weston Lecture Series
  • Competitions such as Walmart’s Sustainable Business Plan Competition and Burrill Business Plan Competition
  • Conferences such as the Nelson’s Institute Annual Earth Day conference and Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council Conference

Before beginning the application to the graduate/professional certificate, students should gather the information listed below.

  • List of  previous degrees including institution, degree, major, date granted and GPA for each degree
  • Scores and percentiles for all applicable graduate school admission tests
  • Current GPA
  • Advisor's name and email address
  • Planned semester to begin the certificate or minor

Note: For the application to be approved, it is required that the student has consent from the faculty advisor (or, where appropriate, graduate program coordinator) to participate in the BESR minor or certificate. The student must have the advisor send an email to the certificate director at aterlaak@bus.wisc.edu confirming this consent.

For more information: Certificate advisor, aterlaak@bus.wisc.edu; bus.wisc.edu/degrees-programs/certificates/graduate/sustainability