MBA in Sustainable Business

BGI at Pinchot’s MBA in Sustainable Business program offers a leading-edge MBA curriculum in an in-person, course-based format. It teaches the business fundamentals, and, in addition, provides every student a deep immersion in the cutting-edge aspects of sustainability as they relate to each of the core business topics. The program presents students with the issues facing companies and communities, and the pragmatic aspects of transforming capitalism to deliver genuine human well-being, resilient communities and superior profits.

The “Metro” MBA format combines our emphasis on cultivating a learning community with the additional interaction and flexibility afforded by in-person class sessions with variable schedules.

Students typically complete the MBA in Sustainable Business program in the standard 27-month (9 quarters) timeframe.  In some circumstances, students may be able to complete their MBA more quickly by working with our advisors to plan an accelerated program of study. Students study core business disciplines in an intimate classroom environment. Elective courses are a mix of students from both MBA programs and professionals pursuing Industry Certificates.


Sustainable MBA Core: 24 Credits
Business Seminars: 12 Credits
Entrepreneurship & Intrapreneurship: 6 Credits
Leadership & Management: 6 Credits
Electives & Action Learning Practicum: 12 Credits

Deep Dive in Sustainability

People, Planet, Profit & Purpose

BGI at Pinchot is built on the recognition that sustainability is key to successful operation of business, both to preserve a habitable planet, and because there is now a solid business case for behaving in ways that are more responsible to people and planet. Doing this enhances every aspect of shareholder value and drives greater community prosperity. As Harvard Business Review* stated:

“Sustainability isn’t the burden on the bottom line that many executives believed it to be. It can lower your costs and increase your revenue. That is why sustainability should be a touchstone for all of innovation. In the future, only companies that make sustainability a goal will achieve competitive advantage. That means rethinking business models as well as products, technologies and processes.”

*Nidumolu, Ram, Prahalad, C.K, Rangaswami, Why Sustainability is Now the Key Driver of Innovation, Harvard Business Review, September 2009, Reprint R0909E

Sustainability Seminars — required courses within the MBA in Sustainable Business program — are held throughout the quarter. These courses are offered on Friday evening/Saturday schedule to give students the opportunity to delve deeply into such topics as Triple Bottom Line Accounting; Economics of Sustainability; Strategy and Sustainability; Managing for Sustainability; Marketing for Sustainability; and more.

Taught by Hunter Lovins and Kevin Wilhelm, two globally recognized sustainability professors and practitioners, these seminars give students a chance to engage with two of the creators of the field of business sustainability. Both are published authors, consultants to Fortune 100 companies, communities and governments around the world. They bring students a grounding in the theory behind sustainability as well as the latest in the practice.

Upon joining BGI, you become a member of a global professional network. The BGI community includes academic leaders, industry innovators, students and alumni who provide a continuing source of knowledge, experience and inspiration.

Even after graduation, the community continues to share business and learning opportunities. Your engagement with the BGI community introduces you to a dynamic group of professionals who are working together to change business for good.

The Metro MBA operates on a course-based model, where students are admitted throughout the year and register for available courses.

Courses are conducted chiefly in person, with distance learning technology used as an additional resource where helpful for course management and inclusion of guest speakers. Course schedules vary from weekly evening classes over a ten-week quarter, to more intensive seminar courses that combine evening and weekend class meetings, to hybrid format elective courses.

The Metro MBA Program is offered at BGI’s Seattle Learning Site in the 220 & Change building in historic Pioneer Square. BGI shares a collaborative space with our friends Impact HUB Seattle and Social Venture Partners. In addition to courses, the building hosts a number of events every week, serving as the center of social entrepreneurship in Seattle, and the largest space of its kind in the country.

Although Metro MBA students will only be required to participate in online classes for select courses, all students entering the MBA programs receive training on how to use The Commons, the virtual classroom, and the library. Individual assistance is also provided through IT support.

Course Descriptions

Financial and Managerial Accounting

Classical financial and managerial accounting. Preparing and using financial information in the decision making process. (3 credits)


Introduction to finance from an entrepreneurial perspective. Risk and return. Sources and costs of capital. Forecasting cash requirements. Cost-benefit analysis. Capital budgeting. (3 credits)

Principles of Economics

History of economic systems. Basic micro- and macroeconomics. Market dynamics. The effect and management of externalities. Economic thinking and business decisions. (3 credits)

Systems Thinking in Action

Use of systems thinking to understand the ecological, economic, and social dynamics of business sustainability. Emphasizes causal loop diagrams, feedback loop stories/analysis and the basics of stock and flow models. (3 credits)

Management: Organizational Systems

This course examines systems embedded in organizations and those of which the organization is a part. Systems in the organizational environment influence the way people behave, the options available for action, the relationships that form, the learning that is possible and in many cases, the meaning that people apply to their work. Systems shape the flow of information, the rewards, the strategic development process, budgeting, hiring, power and other elements of organizations. (3 credits)

Business Modeling and Decision Analysis

An introduction to quantitative analysis and decision-making methods and tools, including explorations of elementary statistics, optimization theory (linear programming) and decision theory (under conditions of uncertainty or risk). (3 credits) Prerequisites: ACCT 553M and FIN 554M or faculty permission

Strategy and Implementation

Analytical and non-analytical approaches to strategy development. Evaluation of strategic alternatives. Implementation issues. The Balanced Scorecard. (3 credits)

Operations Management

Operations and supply chain management. Operation management thinking and design. Quality and worker participation. Culture of Continuous Improvement. Local and regional economies. Innovation. (3 credits) Prerequisites: ACCT 553M and FIN 554M or faculty permission

Marketing and Sales

Marketing strategy frameworks and tactics. Marketing and competitive research. Business environmental scanning. Word-of-mouth strategies and Internet-based approaches. Introduction to selling and sales management. (3 credits)

Accounting, Business Modeling and Decision Analysis for Sustainability

This course focuses on the development of a triple bottom line (TBL) accounting system for a firm and on the application of quantitative and analytical techniques to the challenges of doing business sustainably. Prerequisites: ACCT 553M and MGMT 560M or instructor permission (2 credits)

Finance and Economics for Sustainability

This course examines topics related to the need for reliable sources of funding for sustainability ventures and activities and provides an intro- duction to contemporary ecological economics, including social as well as environmental considerations. (2 credits) Prerequisites: FIN 554M and ECON 555M or instructor permission

Management and Operations for Sustainability

This course focuses on the organizational change issues associated with the broad-based movement of an organization in the direction of sus- tainability. It also focuses on green supply chain management and oth- er aspects of sustainable operations, including labor practices, energy management and end-of-life disposal issues. (2 credits) Prerequisites: MGMT 558M and MGMT 564M or instructor permission

Strategy and Sustainability

This course focuses on sustainability as a platform for creativity, innova- tion and competitive advantage for both new and established firms. It also includes a mini-course on design thinking and several sessions on integrating sustainability into existing organizations. (2 credits) Prereq- uisite: MGMT 563M or instructor permission

Marketing and Sustainability

This course focuses on current directions in sustainable marketing, in- cluding product development, integrated marketing communication strategies, including social media, recent psychological research on changing human behavior and issues related to cultural context. (1 cred- it) Prerequisite: MKTG 561M or instructor permission

Entrepreneurship & Intrapreneurship I

Introduction to entrepreneuring and intrapreneuring. The character, personality and role of the entrepreneur. Exploration of entrepreneur- ial opportunities in the shift to sustainability. Generating and screening ideas and business models. Business plan development. Lessons applied to real/mock business ventures. (3 credits)

Entrepreneurship & Intrapreneurship II

Key startup and growth issues, focused on the first 3-5 years of a venture. Creating an organizational climate conducive to entrepreneurship and innovation. Creating a sound operational infrastructure. Continued busi- ness plan development. Selection of market entry point. Presentation of students’ plans to investors with feedback. (3 credits) Prereq: MGT 569

Leadership and Personal Development

A series of six one-credit courses that meet in small groups throughout the program. Ongoinsg interpersonal development processes to support the personal awareness and leadership capacity required to be effective and creative change agents for sustainability. (1 credit per course for a total of 6 credits)

Action Learning Practicum I-III

Requires instructor permission.

Action Learning Practicum I (ALP I)

Students are required to participate in a practicum track for three quarters during the second or third year of their program. The curriculum is designed to provide students with the option to select one of two areas of focus, which they will follow throughout the three quarter practicum. (3 credits)

Action Learning Practicum II (ALP II)

In the second quarter of the practicum, students will:
• Engage in a specific issue with stakeholders
• Apply skills and tools learned in the first quarter to real world issues • Gather data and incorporate it into a plan. (3 credits) Prerequisite: ALP 551

Action Learning Practicum III (ALP III)

In the third quarter of the practicum, students will:
• Continue to engage in a specific issue with stakeholders
• Continue to apply skills and tools learned earlier in the year to real world issues
• Finalize plans for launch and/or implementation. (3 credits) Prerequisites: ALP 551 and ALP 552

Digital Influence

Understanding how to use influence and persuasion in a sustainable and ethical manner is important to everyone involved in business, even if you are not in the marketing department. This class discusses how to use these skills online as well as not, asking the students to answer the ques- tion: “how can we use these skills to create positive change?” Students will gain tools to influence and persuade as well as to take command of their digital presence. At the end of the course, students will be pro- ficient in online communication and the current psychology of ethical influence. (3 credits)

Study Tour

Study tour focusing on topics in sustainability and social justice. Taught by Pinchot faculty. Includes pre- and post-tour activities. (3 credits)

Creativity & Innovation

Principles and practices of creativity. Individual and group creativity. Generating and screening ideas. Translating personal values into career and vocation. (3 credits)

Dal LaMagna Series on Responsible Capitalism

A special course that pushes the frontiers of knowledge in some aspect of sustainable business. Topics developed and taught each year by fac- ulty. (3 credits)

Capital Markets and the Financial System

This course focuses on the operation of global capital markets, their re- lationship to the global economy, their central role in the recent/cur- rent economic crisis, and implications for public policy and ethics. The course will look at the history of capital markets, recent developments in financial engineering, and alternative capital regimes that have been proposed to address market failures and abuses. (3 credits)

Capital Structure of the Firm

This course explores topics relevant to both entrepreneurial and corpo- rate finance, including: the cost, sources and appropriate uses of debt, equity and internal capital; specialized financial vehicles, business valu- ation; venture capital agreements and initial public offerings (IPOs); and the accountability of boards. There is a special emphasis on appropriate sources of funds for social enterprises and other “for-benefit” opportuni- ties. (3 credits)

Financial Analysis

This course offers a strong introduction to both conventional financial statement analysis and socially responsible investment (SRI) analysis. The financial focus is on using financial accounting information to evalu- ate the economic strengths and weaknesses of a firm, while the SRI focus is on using information from multiple sources to evaluate the firm’s per- formance on various ESG (environmental, social, governance) metrics. (3 credits)

Certificate in Sustainable Energy Solutions

Understanding the Context for Change

This course presents the context within which Alternative and Renewable Energy options have emerged and grown as well as the current status of the industry in the US and the world. It explores the systemic and historical forces that have given birth to this field and examines the present state of the industry, including the philosophical underpinnings, the politics, and trends–technological, political and economic. Using both experiential ex- ercises and more traditional assignments, students will be immersed in key concepts, language, science, all foundational for charting a career in Sus- tainable Energy Solutions. (3 credits)

Identifying Opportunities

This course presents a survey of all existing conventional and alternative technologies, their current state of development, rate of success and fail- ure, financing possibilities and potential future. It also presents a possible platform for launching a project during quarter 3, Creating New Ventures. (3 credits) Prerequisite: SESC 561

Creating New Ventures

This course provides the framework within which students take a concept or idea for a new venture though business modeling, prototyping, customer validation, and finally, to making the “pitch.” Students will draw from the various technologies and associated issues and opportunities surveyed in quarter 2. (3 credits) Prerequisites: SESC 561-562

Action Learning Practicum

This practicum is designed to enable students to apply the concepts and tools learned during quarters one, two and three in an integrated real world project. This project may be a continuation of the project outlined in the third quarter, or it may be a more implementation-oriented project for a client outside the school. In this practicum, students will:

  • Complete a refined iteration of the New Venture they worked on during the third quarterOR
  • Identify another real or potential energy-related project worthy of time and research
  • Complete and to the extent possible execute a formal implementation plan for the project
  • Design and, if possible, execute a stakeholder engagement plan for the project
  • Make the business case for the project to the relevant audience(s)
  • Present the project to the client, the class and a representative group of experts

Independent Study

Research and readings conducted one-on-one with a core faculty mem- ber. Variable credits as contracted with faculty member and approved by the Dean of Academic Affairs. PLEASE NOTE: Independent Study courses are offered in exceptional cases only.

Course Descriptions

Academic Calendar 2014-2015


New Student Orientation: September 27, 2014, Seattle Learning Center, Pioneer Square



Sep 29-Dec 12


Jan 5-Mar 20


Mar 30-Jun 12


Jun 22-Sep 11

Registration Due Aug 5 Nov 4 Feb 3 Apr 28
Tuition Due Sep 2 Dec 2 Mar 3 May 26
Quarter Begins Sep 29 Jan 5 Mar 30 Jun 22
Last Day to Drop with 100% Refund Oct 3 Jan 9 Apr 3 Jun 26
Schedule Adjustment: last day to or and drop with 75% Refund Oct 14 Jan 20 Apr 14 Jul 7
Last Day to Drop with 50% Refund Oct 28 Feb 3 Apr 28 Jul 21
Finals Period Dec 8-12 Mar 16-20 Jun 8-12 Sep 7-11
Quarter Ends Dec 12 Mar 20 Jun 12 Sep 11
Grades Due & Posted Dec 19 Mar 27 Jun 19 Sep 18
Commencement: Sunday, June 7, 2015

* Summer Break: July 27- August 7, 2015 (two weeks)


  • Labor Day 2014:  September 1, 2014
  • Thanksgiving:  November 27-28, 2014
  • Winter Holiday: Monday, December 22, 2014 through Friday, January 2, 2015
  • Martin Luther King Day:  January 19, 2015
  • President’s Day:  February 16, 2015
  • Memorial Day:  May 26, 2015
  • Independence Day observed:  Friday, July 3, 2015
  • Labor Day 2015:  September 7, 2015

Academic Calendar 2015-2016


New Student Orientation: September 26, 2015, Seattle Learning Center, Pioneer Sqaure

2015-2016 Fall
Sep 28-Dec 11
(11 weeks)*
Jan 4-Mar 18
(11 weeks)*
Apr 4-Jun 10
(10 weeks)
Jun 27-Sep 16
(10 weeks)
Registration Due Aug 4 Nov 3 Feb 9 May 3
Tuition Due Sep 1 Dec 1 Mar 8 May 31
Quarter Begins Sep 28 Jan 4 Apr 4 Jun 27
Last Day to Drop with 100% Refund Oct 2 Jan 8 Apr 8 Jul 1
Schedule Adjustment: last day to or and drop with 75% Refund Oct 13 Jan 19 Apr 19 Jul 12
Last Day to Drop with 50% Refund Oct 27 Feb 2 May 3 Jul 26
Quarter Ends Dec 12 Mar 20 Jun 12 Sep 11
Grades Due & Posted Dec 30 Mar 27 Jun 19 Sep 18
Commencement: Sunday, June 5, 2016

* 11-week quarters allow class scheduling around holidays such as Thanksgiving and President’s Day.

** Summer Break: August 1-12, 2016 (two weeks)


  • Labor Day 2015:  September 7, 2015
  • Thanksgiving:  November 26-27, 2015
  • Winter Holiday:  Thursday, December 24, 2015 through Friday, January 1, 2016
  • Martin Luther King Day:  January 18, 2016
  • President’s Day:  February 15, 2016
  • Memorial Day:  May 30, 2016
  • Independence Day:  Monday, July 4, 2016
  • Labor Day 2016:  September 5, 2016

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Classes Start January 2015

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