Auburn's Harbert College of Business to host summit on sustainability in business March 2

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Auburn University's Harbert College of Business, Academic Sustainability Programs and the Office of Sustainability will co-sponsor Auburn's first Sustainability in Business Summit Monday, March 2, at Lowder Hall. The summit is open to students, faculty from all disciplines and members of the community.

Industry leaders and academic experts specializing in sustainability will lead classroom programs during the day, with the event highlighted by a panel discussion – open to the public – from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in 113 Lowder Hall.

The public forum will feature George Bandy, vice president of sustainability at Interface; Bill Heise, innovation director at Eastman Chemical Company; Jean Stead and Ed Stead of East Tennessee State University; and Howard Connell from Georgia Institute of Technology. Jon Johnson of the University of Arkansas will facilitate the symposium.

Sustainability can be defined as "meeting human needs now and in the future in a fair, just and equitable way, while protecting and maintaining ecosystems in perpetuity."

"People attending the event are going to learn how important this global mega-trend of sustainability is to business and to business schools," said Mike Kensler, director of the Office of Sustainability. "More and more corporate CEOs are recognizing that sustainability needs to be absolutely at the core of everything they do. Every discipline – finance, accounting, supply chain, marketing, strategic planning and management -- you name it."

Kensler stressed that sustainability presents mega-opportunities for businesses – a message local and regional business owners should hear.

"Business owners I talk to want to offer a quality product and make a positive impact in the community," he said. "The principles and practices of sustainability can help businesses create a distinctive market presence, reduce costs and have positive economic, environmental and community outcomes."

The summit can also be of value for students.

"Students in every discipline are going to be the leaders of the future," Kensler said. "And sustainability is going to be a key consideration for every kind of organization. When it comes to business in particular, business is going to lead the way to a better future. Whether we interact with companies as customers or employees and eventually leaders, the students of today have a tremendous opportunity to shape the future in a positive way. I can't imagine a more rewarding career than helping organizations transition themselves so that they create economic, social, and environmental benefits across the board.

"If students want to make a difference and want to be in the business world and want to have careers that have good meaning beyond making a good income, then learning about and applying the principles, practices, and ethics of sustainability will help them achieve their goals."

For more information, contact Harbert College of Business Communications Editor Joe McAdory at (334) 844-8849 or

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