Centenary launches ‘sustainable practices’ program in business department

Those passionate about sustainability can now pursue it as a field of study.

Centenary University, a private liberal arts college based in Hackettstown, has introduced a new program in sustainable practices offered through the university’s Department of Business that grants students a minor, concentration or certificate in the field.

The new program, Centenary says, comes at a time when “sustainable practices” is a hot phrase in business as companies are putting greater value in professionals who understand how economics, the environment and social responsibility contribute to the bottom line.

Michael Russell, an assistant professor of economics and the director of the university’s new Center for Sustainability, believes businesses will be unyieldingly dominated by sustainability models.

“What we’re seeing in the past five years is that corporations of all sizes are starting to think about their environmental impact and how they’re making decisions that affect the environment,” he said. “As we work to create a sustainable future, it’s up to corporations, cities and individuals to lead the charge in this field, which is really encouraging to see.”

Through partnerships with area high schools, Centenary said, Russell and the university are spreading the word about the career potential for those with knowledge of sustainable practices. Under a new partnership with Phillipsburg High School, Russell will serve as professor-in-residence, working at the school one day a week starting in February.

“This partnership (with Phillipsburg) will allow me to support students directly by offering guidance to those who are interested in sustainability,” Russell said. “My goal is to introduce the degree and all its opportunities to students who are not familiar.”

Russell joined Centenary as an assistant professor in 2015. He is also a member of the New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability.

He recently worked with the Environmental Sustainability and Engineering Academy, Hunterdon County Vocational School District’s new science-based academy, to allow the students to earn credits in business and the sciences from Centenary while still in high school.