University of Vermont

School of Business Administration

SEMBA Core Courses

The UVM Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA (SEMBA) not only prepares students for the ever-changing world of business, it gets them outinto the real world faster and better equipped.  Here is a small sample of the courses offered:

MBA 315 - Foundations of Strategy (1 credit)

In this course the students will analyze issues affecting the entire business organization and learn to develop a broad plan of action to help the business organization achieve its objectives. As the leader of an entrepreneurial or long standing firm, you will face intense competition from rivals to attract consumers to your product.  You will need to formulate a strategy to compete effectively.  A strategy not only requires an understanding of what your primary consumers desire, but also how to bring together people and resources within your organization and across organizations to meet your customer’s needs.  However, while your organization is attempting to attract customers so too is your competition.  Therefore, an integral part of formulating a strategy is meant to enhance the sustainability of your business organization in the face of ongoing threats to its existence. Hear more from the instructor

MBA 321 - Entrepreneurship: Business Planning (2 credits)

Entrepreneurial activities have a significant impact on individual lives and careers as they enable the growth and sustainability of organizations. By introducing change and innovation into the economic and social system, entrepreneurs force other individuals and organizations to constantly adapt. New business models, products/services, processes and organizational practices make it virtually impossible for business professionals to settle down into routine work and linear career paths. This course focuses on developing a business plan to assess the viability of an innovative idea. This exercise enables students to understand the critical role of the business foundations such as accountancy, finance, marketing, management, operations, and strategy in assessing the viability of a new venture. The concepts discussed in this course are applicable to many situations.  Regardless of career ambitions, developing your entrepreneurial skills and knowledge is likely to enhance the achievement of your career goals.

MBA 323 - Systems Theory & Dynamics (1 credit)

Businesses are embedded in social and environmental systems with complex interdependencies, feedback loops, and emergent properties. Systems theory provides a framework for understanding these co-evolving systems and identifying key leverage points for business decisions that promote sustainability.  Students will learn the principles of systems thinking, practice the systems mindset through case studies, and then develop their own dynamic systems computer models for scenario analysis. The course will end with a sustainable business roundtable with experienced systems thinkers from various business sectors.

MBA 328 - Corporate Social Performance & Sustainablilty (1 credit)

Business leaders and scholars have demonstrated continued interest in the use of so-called socially responsible and sustainable business practices. While people often claim that such practices need not be in conflict with profit-seeking goals, an increasing number of them now argue that these practices can be at the core of an effective strategy for achieving profit-seeking goals. Such claims, of course, are not without controversy. In this course, a critical evaluation of these perspectives will be provide a background for viewing social and environmental practices through a strategic lens under the conceptual umbrella of Corporate Social Performance (CSP). Evidence will be reviewed about how CSP can be used, and is being used, to manage relationships with various stakeholders that are critical to the success of many organizations. Hear more from the instructor

MBA 331 - Sustainable Operations & Supply Chain Management (2 credits)

Several parallel forces of change, such as high volatility in the price of natural resources, potential threat of disruptions (e.g. effluent spills or new regulations), and rising consumer awareness of the environmental consequences of existing systems, have increased the demand for more sustainable offerings.  We are particularly interested in the evolution of Operations Management toward Sustainable Operations and Supply Chains.  As the operations function is the key area for changing inputs to outputs, it has the most impact on the sustainability of an organization. How can we transform our conventional business approach from “manipulating abstract quantitative variables” in blind allegiance to maximizing profits into a learning organization approach that reshapes business operations into a means of creating wealth that fits our finite planet? Through this lens, this course provides an overview of issues facing operations managers in service and manufacturing companies. Using examples from sectors such as manufacturing, transportation, construction and service, this course discusses the perspectives and skills required to sustainably operate global supply chains. Hear more from the instructor

MBA 332 - Building the Brand of a Sustainable Enterprise (2 credits)

Strong brands are among a firm’s most important assets – how they are managed can influence consumers’ buying decisions in significant ways.  To create value and profits for stakeholders in a socially-conscious and environmentally-responsible manner, there is a need to manage brands for both short-term viability and long-term sustainability.  By managing brands strategically, firms can increase their competitive advantage and profitability over the long range. This course addresses the key areas of brand management including how strong brands are created, and how brand equity is developed, managed, and measured over time.  Students will learn about fundamental concepts and real-life application through a combination of lecture, examples, cases, and class discussion.  Throughout the course, there will be an emphasis on sustainability with a focus on brand strategies designed to enhance long-term profitability and survival of the firm.

MBA 334 - Innovation, Product & Service Design (1 credit)

To innovate is to introduce something new or in a new way or effect a change in something.  Innovation is the development of new customer value through solutions that meet new needs, unarticulated needs, or old customer and market needs in new ways. This is accomplished through different or more effective products, processes, services, technologies or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments and society. Innovation differs from invention in that innovation refers to the use of a better and, as a result, novel idea or method, whereas invention refers more directly to the creation of the idea or method itself. Innovation differs from improvement in that innovation refers to the notion of doing something different rather than doing the same thing better. This module examines techniques of innovation and provides students opportunities to apply these techniques to appropriate problems and situations.

MBA 336 - Entrepreneurial Leadership (1 credit)

Innovation and new creation lie at the core of entrepreneurship. Leadership is the capacity to envision something new and mobilize others to help you accomplish it. Both entrepreneurship and leadership imply change and its implementation, the willingness to make tough decisions, act and live with consequences. They are both action oriented skills that can be developed through deep understanding of self and others, an ability to sense the environment, visualize a future, and inspire others to devote their efforts towards the desired end. Both require practice.

Entrepreneurial Leadership is an experiential seminar course that examines the intersection of these two disparate yet complementary sets of skills necessary to build sustainable enterprises in today’s complex, globalized, fast-evolving world. The concept of cognitive ambidexterity that is balancing between prediction and creation logics lies at the core of entrepreneurial leadership. Course readings and assignments will enable students to understand and apply this concept. Experiential exercises will help students develop a realistic and deep understanding of themselves, their current work styles, and networks. Reflective readings will provide ideas on how to enhance the unique human and social resources you currently possess. The course culminates in a student project that makes a difference in their community.

MBA 343 - Social Entrepreneurship (1 credit)

Social entrepreneurship (SE) is about creating social change through innovation. Driven by a passion, social entrepreneurs strive to find solutions for deep rooted problems such as poverty, global warming, health care, domestic or racial violence, minority issues etc. Despite this unifying core of being mission driven, there is much diversity within SE. It can be exercised through new or existing ventures that may take the form of a for-profit, non-profit, or hybrid organization. Social entrepreneurs may focus on creating enterprises, investing in socially focused enterprises as angels or philanthropists, or consulting to such enterprises. Readings and reflective exercises in this course will help students to identify their passion and natural drivers. Through case studies, the class will learn about the entire life cycle of a social venture from its conception through start-up, scaling, and exit. Strategies to enhance the sustainability of a social venture and pitfalls to avoid at different life stages will be discussed. Students will gain exposure to the different SE related career paths and learn how successful social entrepreneurs achieve long-term sustainability by balancing the financial and social goals.

MBA 344 - Ecological Systems (2 credits)

In this course the students will analyze issues affecting the entire business organization and learn to develop a broad plan of action to help the business organization achieve its objectives. As the leader of an entrepreneurial or long standing firm, you will face intense competition from rivals to attract consumers to your product. You will need to formulate a strategy to compete effectively. A strategy not only requires an understanding of what your primary consumers desire, but also how to bring together people and resources within your organization and across organizations to meet your customer’s needs. However, while your organization is attempting to attract customers so too is your competition. Therefore, an integral part of formulating a strategy is meant to enhance the sustainability of your business organization in the face of ongoing threats to its existence. Hear more from the instructor

MBA 345 - Business on a Finite Planet (1 credit)

This course offers an ecological-economic perspective on sustainable business. Ecological economists start with the assumption that the economy is a physical sub-system of a finite global ecosystem. When the economy grows, it does not expand into a void, but rather into the finite global ecosystem, reducing the benefits the ecosystem would otherwise provide. Conventional microeconomics focuses on the allocation of factors of production towards the economic products that generate the greatest value to society. It is impossible to make something from nothing, and many of the raw materials we transform into economic products alternatively serve as the structural building blocks of ecosystems, and their conversion into economic products inevitably generates pollution. The loss of ecosystem structure and return of waste to the environment threatens the capacity of the ecosystem to generate raw materials and sustain vital life support functions. We therefore need to develop an economic system that can efficiently allocate ecosystem structure between economic products and life sustaining ecological functions. There are a variety of policies that can help achieve this goal, all of which have profound implications for the business environment to which business leaders must adapt. Failure to protect global ecosystems will have even more profound impacts on the business environment to which it will be much more difficult to adapt.

(Alternative titles for this course include the Economics of Sustainability; Investing in Natural Capital; or Building an Ecological Economy.)

MBA 346 - Monetary systems and finance for a sustainable economy (1 credit)

This course would describe how our current monetary system redistributes wealth and income, systematically promotes the over-exploitation of our natural resource base, and fosters economic instability. It then presents a pragmatic alternative system (supported among others by University of Chicago economists in the 1930s) that is sustainable, just and efficient.

MBA 347 - Sustainable Development Policy (1 credit)

In this course, students will learn about analyzing and evaluating a wide range of sustainable development policies, with emphasis on understanding the interactions among biodiversity, climate change, energy, transportation, food, water and air quality management policies. Students engage in critically analyzing and evaluating sustainable development policy issues, such as managing Phosphorus flows in Lake Champlain at the regional scale and Green House Gas emissions at the global scale, by applying theoretical and policy analytical skills learned in this class. The emphasis is placed on understanding the dynamics of complex systems, and investigating how different public policy interventions in complex systems change the structure and the dynamics of the biogeophyscial and socioeconomic systems. Students will become familiar with three policy analytical methods: Participatory Multi-Criteria Analysis, Policy Analysis and Complex Systems Dynamic Modeling.

MBA 348 - Business, Communities and Sustainability (1 credit)

How do we create profitable businesses that offer high quality jobs that improve the quality of life in our communities? These goals may seem contradictory but in fact businesses around the world are using this paradigm to create new opportunities for people and place. This course will examine the different ways businesses are related not only to economic health but also to the social and environmental health of a community. We will study the theories, concepts and issues embedded in community and economic development through academic studies and real world case studies. Questions explored include: what is the responsibility of a business to the people and place they operate in; how can businesses and communities partner to strengthen the economic sector through job training, housing, infrastructure (roads, bridges, buildings), child care, and financing; community engagement processes, and how can businesses be legally structured to consider the interests of all stakeholders, not just shareholders, when making decisions.

MBA 349 - Institutional Theories of Workforce Development (1 credit)

Delve into the complexity of institutional theories of workforce development and examine how businesses and communities can partner to address the challenges of issues like affordable housing, child care, health, job training, etc. which can impact employee retention and productivity.

MBA 350 - Human Rights Issues in International Business Transitions (1 credit)

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MBA 351 - Cap and Trade Systems in the Regulatory Process (1 credit)

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MBA 352 - Business Law for Entrepreneurs I (1 credit)

Attention to business enterprise formation, contract negotiation and intellectual property

MBA 353 - Regulatory Issues in for the Business Entrepreneur and Change Agents (1 credit)

This course will focus on the basics of the regulatory process for business leaders.

MBA 354 - Keys to Strategic Negotiation and Complex Dynamics I & II (1 credit)

This is a two-part module that will provide both skills and substantive understanding of negotiation and problem solving with an emphasis on environmental and regulatory complexities.

MBA 355 - Social Enterprise and Nonprofit Law (1 credit)

Policy and practice of creating tax-exempt charitable organizations at the state and federal levels and fostering strategic leadership within those organizations.

MBA 356 - Emerging Legal and Policy Issues in Agriculture Systems and Food Advocacy. (1 credit)

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MBA 357 - Professor Speth will deliver a distinguished lecture (1 credit)

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MBA 358 - Business Law for Entrepreneurs II (1 credit)

Business regulation, including federal securities laws and white collar crime

MBA 390 - Capstone Course (2 credits)

This course will bring the MBA program to a close. It will consist primarily of preparing a final report and making a final project presentation from each of ten or 11 teams in the program. Each team will describe in great detail the design and development of the new venture they launched over the previous two months. Each presentation will be 2 hours long followed by an hour long questions and answers session. The presentation will be made to the rest of the class and to a blue ribbon panel of “judges”.  Students will be graded both on their presentation and the questions they posed to the other teams.  Applicants that have been accepted to the program for the following year will also be invited to attend. The last day of this two week course will be a series of capstone lectures an activities and spent on feedback and evaluation.

Last modified October 15 2013 02:02 PM