Q&A with Cathy DuBois P.h.D., College of Business Administration, Associate Dean for Graduate and Online Programs
Office of Sustainability Newsletter November 2020
Your university bio indicates that your discipline is Human Resource Management/Organizational Behavior. How did you get involved in sustainability?
I grew up spending a lot of time in nature, as my family camped frequently in northern Minnesota. This led to a natural interest in environmental issues as I became an adult. Around 2007, my husband had a few opportunities to do sustainability-related grant writing and consulting. It wasn’t long before we were generating ideas for academic papers and conference presentations around the important role that HR should play in embedding sustainability into organizations. And it’s been the focus of a great deal of my attention thereafter.
How did your interest in sustainability manifest in what you do at Kent State?
In 2010, supported by Provost Frank, I worked with Melanie Knowles, KSU’s Sustainability Manager, to survey KSU faculty to determine who was integrating sustainability into their teaching. These data were very useful when we worked with colleagues in the College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology (now the College of Aeronautics and Engineering) to create the multidisciplinary Sustainability Minor in 2012.
You’ve been an administrator for almost a decade, so how does sustainability get woven into what you do?
I have been fortunate to be deeply involved in organizations that bring sustainability to higher education. Through my ongoing work with Melanie Knowles since she arrived at Kent in 2009, I got involved with AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education). I served two years as a STARS Technical Advisor for AASHE, shaping the STARS criteria related to human resources.
I have also been involved in the shift of colleges and schools of business to teaching how business can be a force for good, giving rise to positive social and environmental change. Many companies are leading the way in setting ambitious goals related to environmental impact and social well-being. AACSB, the gold standard accrediting organization for colleges and schools of business around the world, has created a new standard which all of their accredited schools must meet, reflecting positive societal impact. For the past two years I have served as Chair of the AACSB Responsible Management Affinity Group, a network of management educators committed to advancing sustainability, corporate responsibility, social entrepreneurship and innovation in business schools worldwide, networking with like-minded colleagues around the globe to organize pre-conference events for most AACSB conferences.
I also serve on the steering committee for the North America chapter of Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), a United Nations-supported initiative founded to raise the profile of sustainability in schools around the world.
As Associate Dean in the College of Business Administration, I co-led the creation and implementation of the Responsible Leadership Initiative in the College of Business Administration in 2017, through which we have brought the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the notion of business as a force for good to our faculty and students. The SDGs are now integrated into many courses in the College of Business, and more than 1/3 of our faculty research relates to one or more SDGs. Dean Spake has been very supportive of expanding this initiative in many ways, and we are always undertaking new efforts. Back when we could travel, we had faculty-led sustainability-focused study abroad trips to India. Our Business Case for Sustainability course maxes out every semester and has led to students getting some terrific sustainability-related jobs upon graduation. This fall we rolled out our Responsible Leadership digital badge program for MBA students. We continue to connect with corporations and nonprofits around their sustainability efforts in a variety of ways. In Spring 2021 we are pioneering experiential learning coursework around tri-sector innovation, bringing together companies, nonprofits and government to create innovations that drive positive social impact. Every discipline within our college has a role to play in preparing our students for leadership roles in creating business for a better world. This good work is filled with purpose and brings so much joy!
Thank you Dr. Cathy DuBois!