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Launched: A New Global Certificate in Sustainability and Social Enterprise

The Bard MBA in Sustainability, in conjunction with universities worldwide, has launched a new global certificate program focused on delivering worldwide education for enterprise solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Since 2020, Bard’s MBA in Sustainability has been leading this training approach for leaders to launch and grow sustainable, mission-driven businesses. The certificate program combines the scalability of an interactive, synchronous global classroom with high-touch engagement from local co-instructors. Faculty from Palestine, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Kyrgyzstan, Colombia the US and other countries are actively co-creating the Certificate courses-- essentially a minor program in Sustainable Business. And the program is growing. Read on to see how to bring the power of the Global Certificate to your local university--- and to tens of thousands of students worldwide.

Bard MBA Director Dr. Eban Goodstein is bullish on the model. “No one else in the world is doing anything like this Certificate. It is the future of effective education for social enterprise." The certificate program replaces the one-way delivery of a traditional large-scale online course with the interactivity needed for project-based learning, ensuring that students have access to faculty in small groups to be able to actually work together to test and develop their projects. "It has huge potential to scale the impact, and scale the learning and training that we’re doing, and reach lots more people through a low-cost, accessible framework that universities all across the world can easily plug into their existing curricula.” 

Mirela Harizonova, a student at the American University of Bulgaria (AUBG) says that the certificate “really tests you to see if you want to create social change through social enterprise”. The video below portrays two case studies of successful initiatives that were launched by students from BRAC University in Bangladesh.

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The Certificate adapts three key courses from the Bard MBA for a global a graduate or undergraduate audience: (1) Sustainable Development and Social Enterprise; (2) Social Entrepreneurship; and (3) Leading Change for Sustainability. While these all began as MBA courses, the Certificate program now provides a minor in social enterprise for all undergraduate majors—from art and design to zoology. All three courses are centered around project-based learning, supported by close interaction with co-instructor faculty at the participating universities. Students who complete all three courses receive the Certificate which is granted through the Open Society University Network.

The global collaboration is powered by RebelBase, an educational software platform built by Bard MBA entrepreneurship faculty member Alejandro Crawford and his team, and recently featured in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Social Entrepreneurship students from all over the world meet together once a week in a synchronous Zoom class, and also weekly in-person with their local co-instructors to work through the RebelBase modules. To date, in addition to Bard, Al Quds, AUBG and EHU, participating schools include: BRAC University (Bangladesh), American University of Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan), Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia), and  St Mary's College in Maryland. Crawford says, “We are crossing functions, cultures, backgrounds, missions - and learning from each other about what we can create, and that is how innovation occurs.”

Mission-focused businesses already emerging from the Global Certificate include Roots, a Bangladeshi solution to early childhood education for low-income families, and CleanPalCo, an award-winning business in Palestine that repurposes construction waste and used tires to make a paving surface You can watch a complete dialogue of faculty and student conversation about their experience in the Certificate global entrepreneurship course here.

The Certificate is scaling year over year. In Fall 2023, the Social Entrepreneurship course is adding new cohorts including adult learners from the Oglala-Lakota tribal community, a Capetown South-Africa based innovation hub, Streetbiz; the Catholic University of Ukraine in Lyiv;  and the University of Professional Studies in Accra, Ghana, To learn how your school can join the program please contact Dr. Goodstein at ebangood@bard.edu

The Global Certificate is a project of the Graduate Programs in Sustainability at Bard College in New York, including MS and M Ed degrees, and the MBA in Sustainability, ranked the #1 Green MBA in the US by Princeton Review for 2021, 2022 and 2023. Support for the project comes from the Open Society University Network.

About the Author

Eban Goodstein

Eban Goodstein

Dr. Eban Goodstein is an economist and the Director of the MBA in Sustainability and the MS and MEd programs at the Center for Environmental Policy at Bard College. He is known for organizing national educational initiatives on climate change, which have engaged thousands of schools and universities, civic institutions, faith groups, and community organizations in solutions-driven dialogue. Goodstein is the author of three books and numerous journal articles focused on climate change, sustainability and green jobs.