Better World MBA Rankings: Sustainability Focus Places Two Australians Unis In Top 5 Spots

Griffith Business School & La Trobe Uni’s MBAs are amongst the world’s best for sustainability. Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Two Australian universities have continued Australia’s notable track record for ranking highly in a variety of global rankings, by taking out the number one and 4th highest spot in the Corporate Knights 2022 Better World MBA rankings released earlier today.

The Griffith Business School was recognised for having the world’s best MBA for the third year in a row, while La Trobe University took out the number 4 spot behind Warwick Business School and Maastricht University’s School of Business.

This year’s top 40 MBA programs span 12 countries. To determine the ranking, Corporate Knights evaluated 160 business schools, including the 2021 Financial Times top 100 Global MBA programs, all programs included in Corporate Knights’ 2021 Better World MBA Ranking, and select MBA programs accredited by AMBA, AACSB or EQUIS that opted into the ranking.

While a multitude of drivers are encouraging schools to reimagine their MBA programs, student demand is a growing consideration. Student applications to the number-one ranked Griffith Business School, for instance, were up 18% in 2022 over the previous year, while 95% of inquiries over the last six months were from individuals interested in a sustainability-focused program.

Warwick’s MBA program has noted a similar shift, with sustainability topics shaping some 30 to 40% of student dissertations and required projects, up from just 5 to 10% a few years ago. It’s clear that schools are responding; on average, sustainability is now infused into almost half (49%) of the top 40 schools’ core content, up from 39% in 2021. On the other hand, among the 160 schools included in the starting universe, this number was only 22%. With 37% of Griffith graduates from the classes of 2021 and 2020 now working at impact organisations*, it’s clear that what’s being taught in the classroom is translating into real-world action. ​

Nevertheless, a shakeup among the top 10 spots suggests that even more schools are deepening their commitments to sustainability-focused curriculum content. In 2021, Corporate Knights’ research revealed that among the top 40 ranked MBA programs, 215 of 535 (40%) courses fully or partially incorporated content related to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This number grew to 46% in 2022, with 263 of 570 courses containing SDG-related content, a small but noticeable move in the right direction. Meanwhile, 12 of this year’s top 40 schools were included in the ranking for the first time, suggesting that a new wave of sustainable MBA programs is on the rise.

“Today’s top MBA programs understand that future corporate leaders will be tasked with integrating social, environmental and economic factors into daily business decisions,” explained Toby Heaps, CEO and co-founder of Corporate Knights. “By adapting their curriculums, these programs are equipping students to deal with new realities and challenges already shaping the global business community.”

Corporate Knights evaluated programs across seven key performance indicators: core course integration of sustainability (30%), research publications per faculty member on sustainability topics (20%), per cent of total faculty publications in 2021 on sustainability topics (20%), number of citations per faculty for those publications (10%), sustainability-focused research institutes and centres (10%), faculty gender diversity (5%) and faculty racial diversity (5%). Additionally, a new indicator measuring alumni sustainability impact (% of recent grads working at impact organisations) was introduced as a bonus (worth up to 5%).

Leading with intention, this year’s top 40 schools continue to create learning environments where current and future students can collaboratively explore environmental, social and governance issues within the context of business. While progress could always move faster, the top 40 are demonstrating what’s already possible for academic institutions globally.

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