Singapore business school launches Southeast Asia’s first sustainability major

Many companies consider a sustainability strategy necessary to stay competitive today and in the future, hence Singapore Management University’s new major course for green-minded business students.

Singapore Management University
Singapore Management University, the region's first business school to launch a sustainability major. Modules include sustainable finance, social entrepreneurship, and economic development in Asia. Image: SMU

A Singapore business school has launched Southeast Asia’s first major on sustainability.

The new course at Singapore Management University (SMU) aims to grow and promote the understanding of sustainability in Southeast Asia, a region with social and environmental issues ranging from deforestation and plastic pollution to overtourism and migrant labour.

The major takes three to four years to complete and will arm students with knowledge of sustainable practices and how to apply it in business. 

Many companies consider a sustainability strategy necessary to be competitive today and in the future.

Professor Gerard George, dean, SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business

The curriculum will cover topics such as what businesses can do to reduce their negative impact on communities and the environment. 

Modules include sustainable finance, social entrepreneurship, economic development in Asia, development, underdevelopment and poverty, and sustainability and marketing. Compulsory modules include sustainability management and governance. 

One condition for the course is that is done concurrently with another chosen first major. The course will be available to SMU students from this year onwards.

According to professor Gerard George, dean of SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business, “Increasingly, businesses have embraced sustainability as part of their strategic goals. Many companies consider a sustainability strategy necessary to be competitive today and in the future.”

The course is backed by Southeast Asia’s largest bank, DBS, which plans to commit more than $1 million in funding to sustainability research, scholarships and fellowships.

The bank’s Singapore country head, Shee Tse Koon, said sponsoring the course aligned with DBS’ legacy as the country’s development bank.

“Our hope is that this partnership will cultivate a thriving pool of talent and businesses that will help us [Singapore] become a world-class centre of sustainable development excellence,” he said.

The announcement comes in a busy period for DBS’ sustainability activity. Last year, the bank launched the Recycle More, Waste Less campaign in a bid to reduce the use of plastics in Singapore, and awarded CapitaLand a $300 million sustainability-linked loan to promote sustainable practices.

DBS is the only Asia bank to commit to using only renewable energy to power its operations and was the first to launch a climate policy. But the bank continues to face criticism from environmental groups for funding coal-fired power stations in the region.

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