Leavey Launches Sustainable Business Institute to Address 21st-Century Challenges
It has become clear that strong sustainability practices not only benefit society—they are also proving to be advantageous for business. Organizations that effectively prioritize sustainability are thriving, and the positive impact extends to the global community.
The new Leavey Sustainable Business Institute will harness the School’s renowned thought leadership in innovation and entrepreneurship to lead the development and adoption of solutions that address pressing sustainability challenges and opportunities while supporting business longevity.
The new Institute is a result of the continuing evolution of the School’s Center for Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which has undergone significant transformations through the years, always pivoting toward forward-looking strategies. Building upon its rich heritage and accomplishments, the Center is now becoming the Sustainable Business Institute, reflecting a broader diversified scope of sustainable business practices.
“The Sustainable Business Institute will be an active and vibrant hub dedicated to promoting innovative concepts and sustainable business practices to solve 21st-century challenges,” said Ed Grier, dean of the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University. “It will leverage Santa Clara University’s legacy of ethical leadership and the innovative spirit of Silicon Valley to empower organizations and leaders in generating substantial societal benefits.”
Inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the interdisciplinary Sustainable Business Institute’s mission will be to advance understanding of how to lead and grow organizations through research, curriculum, dialogue, collaboration with business stakeholders, and co-curricular activities. Areas of focus will include sustainable business practices; environmental stewardship; diversity, equity and inclusion; social responsibility; and economic prosperity.
Within Leavey, the new Institute will support the expansion of a sustainability-focused curriculum for undergraduate, graduate, and executive programs. It will also support and foster new faculty research efforts and thought leadership initiatives.
Externally, the Leavey Sustainable Business Institute will enable and advance new partnerships, knowledge sharing, and co-creation among businesses, academic institutions, government agencies, nonprofits, and community organizations.
Operating as an entity within the Leavey School of Business, the Institute will be led by executive director Chris Norris, with the support of faculty director Leavey Associate Professor Kumar Sarangee.
Norris, who also oversees the Ciocca Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, brings a wealth of experience in leadership and entrepreneurship to his new role. Norris joined Alta Devices, a solar cell manufacturer, as President and CEO shortly after its founding and led the company through multiple rounds of financing before ultimately leading the company to a successful acquisition. Prior to Alta Devices, he was a Venture Partner at Blue Run Ventures and served as the President and CEO at MicroDisplay Corporation.
“Leavey and Santa Clara University have a long history of innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Norris. “This new institute builds upon the great work of our faculty and existing centers—such as the Ciocca Center and the Center for Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship—to allow us to contribute to local and global progress in real and measurable ways.”
A longtime advocate for sustainability, Associate Professor Sarangee’s research focuses on product line management, innovation, new product development, and entrepreneurship. “Sustainability intersects many disciplines and has long been an inherent research theme for many of our faculty members here at the Leavey School of Business,” said Sarangee. “This new institute will sharpen that focus and facilitate the cross-disciplinary collaboration necessary to broaden Leavey’s impact.”
In addition to being an important institution-wide initiative at Santa Clara University, sustainability is a vital component of the business school’s Leavey PLUS strategic plan, which identifies partnerships, leadership, unity, and sustainability as central priorities.
“This year’s celebration of the Leavey School of Business’ centennial anniversary has provided an excellent opportunity to reflect on our legacy over the past 100 years as well as contemplate our role in shaping the future of business,” said Grier. “The new Leavey Sustainable Business Institute will be pivotal in ensuring that the School continues to be a catalyst for ethical leadership in Silicon Valley and a champion for positive societal impact across the globe.”