Diane-Laure Arjaliès, an assistant professor at the Ivey Business School at Western University in Canada, has won the 2021 teaching recognition award for overall excellence in sustainable finance education — jointly awarded by the Financial Times and the Impact and Sustainable Finance Faculty Consortium.
Her course, Sustainable Finance: Building the Business of the 21st Century, reflects the trend for business schools to focus on sustainable finance: incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in investment decisions, for the benefit of society.
Eight judges — drawn from academia, impact investment, financial services and other sectors — ranked her course the highest of 76 submissions from more than 50 universities around the world.
They praised eight other examples of syllabi and teaching materials from different universities in specific categories: innovation and creativity; quantitative rigour; breadth of perspective; and most informed by recent developments. Many were developed and taught by practitioner-academics and others by full-time faculty.
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An increasing number of business schools are now recognising the importance of sustainability in their curricula, to help tackle climate change. The Impact and Sustainable Finance Faculty Consortium (ISFFC), hosted by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, includes more than 270 members from 135 universities in 28 countries that support teaching and research around impact investing and sustainable finance.
But approaches differ substantially, with varied content and perspectives on whether to fully integrate sustainable finance into core courses or provide electives. The FT partnered with the ISFFC to seek strong examples to showcase best practices and encourage wider debate on future approaches.
Arjaliès’ interactive course — which uses case studies, documentaries and games — analyses why financial markets are currently not sustainable, and examines approaches including proxy voting, engagement, cryptocurrencies, hedge funds and socially responsible investing. Beatriz Mejia Asserias— head of economic, climate and science at the British Embassy in Colombia, and one of the FT/ISFFC judges — said: “This is a truly great syllabus. It mixes the social and environmental perspectives, while addressing the needs of all the stakeholders involved in sustainable finance . . . It is innovative and shows a great deal of involvement required from the student.”
In the category for innovation and creativity in a syllabus, Marjolijn Dijksterhuis, adjunct faculty at Amsterdam Business School, University of Amsterdam, was recognised for an international study trip focused on inclusive finance in South Africa. It was adapted and operated entirely online because of coronavirus, and deployed an inclusive design, putting students in contact with South African impact-driven fintech entrepreneurs in small groups.
In a sign of the importance of sustainable finance teaching beyond business schools, Deborah Burand from New York University’s School of Law and Scott Taitel from its Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, were praised for innovation and creativity in teaching material for their case study Launching the MicroBuild Fund on housing microfinance. It is available free on an interactive platform, and can be tailored to different audiences using video interviews with stakeholders, simulated negotiation exercises and actual deal documentation for lawyers.
In the category for quantitative rigour in a syllabus, Shawn Cole and Vikram Gandhi from Harvard Business School were recognised for their Investing: Risk Return Impact course, providing coverage of the $30.7tn market and including a due diligence exercise.
For teaching materials with quantitative rigour, Alnoor Ebrahim from Tufts University was praised for the chapter on the role of funders in his book Measuring Social Change, which explores what innovative funders are doing in measuring and supporting the performance of their investees.
In the category teaching materials with breadth of perspective, to assess the global, interdisciplinary and inclusive nature of sustainable finance, Bhakti Mirchandani from Columbia University School of Professional Studies, was praised for her course Impact Finance for Sustainability, which explores the topic against the backdrop of events including the Arab Spring, the fall of the Berlin Wall, US federal budget cuts and the Paris Climate Agreement.
For teaching materials, Alex Edmans at London Business School was praised for his freshly updated book Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit, which makes the case for sustainability alongside a balanced perspective on the evidence against.
For the award syllabus most informed by recent developments, Andrea Armeni at New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service was commended for his course The Intersection of Finance and Social Justice, designed to explore the potential for capital to be a tool for social change and observe its limitations.
For teaching materials most informed by recent developments, John Tobin-de La Puente at SC Johnson College of Business was praised for The Little Book of Investing in Nature, available free, which aims to help governments, non-governmental organisations, the private sector and others compare options for financing conservation.
Dave Chen, CEO, Equilibrium Capital; Adjunct Professor, Northwestern University
Andrew Jack, Global Education Editor, Financial Times
Megan Kashner, Assistant Clinical Professor & Director of Social Impact, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
Beatriz Mejia, Head of Economics, Climate and Science, British Embassy, Colombia
Bhakti Mirchandani, Director of Responsible Investing, Trinity Wall Street, Adjunct Professor, Columbia University School of Professional Studies
Lilian Ng, Professor of Finance, Schulich School of Business, York University
Matt Slovik, Managing Director and Head of Global Sustainable Finance, Morgan Stanley
David Wood, Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School
[Judges recused themselves from voting on any submissions with which they had a conflict]