MBA Major

Business, Energy, Environment and Sustainability MBA Major

The MBA Major in Business, Energy, Environment and Sustainability (“BEES”) is designed to provide in-depth foundations for those interested in the complex relationships between business and the natural environment, management of environmental risks, and the business and economics of energy. As global energy markets grow and change rapidly and environmental challenges rise, there is a strong need for a new generation of expert business leaders who understand the rapidly evolving trends in business models, technology, regulation, and financing. Students choosing the BEES MBA Major are therefore ideally suited for the ever-expanding set of careers in energy companies, clean-tech investing, energy banking, consulting, the non-profit world, and the government. Students will gain insight into these challenges through an inter-disciplinary approach. Relevant courses are offered by departments including Business Economics and Public Policy, Finance, Legal Studies and Business Ethics, Management, Marketing, and Operations Information and Decisions. Additional courses on business, energy, and the environment can be credited toward the Wharton BEES MBA Major from the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the School of Design, among other programs, as specified below.

The program is coordinated by the Director of the MBA Major in Business, Energy, Environment and Sustainability (Professor Eric Orts). The ongoing design and development of the program is supported by a Wharton-wide advisory committee of faculty and affiliates with teaching and research interests in areas including environmental management, law, and policy; environmental and risk management; energy economics; and energy finance, among others. Current advisory committee members include Erik Gilje, Carolyn Kousky, Howard Kunreuther, Sarah Light, and Arthur van Benthem.

Requirements for the Major: Four Course Units (cu)

The BEES MBA Major requires four (4) units of coursework as indicated below. At least three (3) units of coursework must be from the list of Wharton courses below. Up to one (1) unit may be either from (a) the list of pre-approved non-Wharton courses (also below), or (b) a course from either inside or outside of Wharton that bears a clear relationship to the core of the major, with advance approval of the Director of the BEES Major.

Acronyms on the following list of courses refer to the following departments: Business Economics and Public Policy (BEPP), Legal Studies and Business Ethics (LGST), Management (MGMT), Marketing (MKTG), and Operations, Information and Decisions Department (OIDD).


(1) WHARTON COURSES (at least 3 cu required)

BEPP/OIDD 763: Energy Markets and Policy (van Benthem; 1 cu – Spring)

Over the last several decades, energy markets have become some of the most dynamic markets of the world economy. Traditional fossil fuel and electricity markets have seen a partial shift from heavy regulation to market-driven incentives, while rising environmental concerns have led to a wide array of new regulations and “environmental markets”. The growth of renewable energy is another source of rapid change, but brings with it a whole new set of technological and policy challenges. This changing energy landscape requires quick adaptation from energy companies, but also offers opportunities to turn regulations into new business. The objective of this course is to provide the economist’s perspective on a broad range of topics that professionals in the energy industry will encounter. Topics include the effect of competition, market power and scarcity on energy prices, extraction and pricing of oil and gas, geopolitical uncertainty and risk in hydrocarbon investments, the environmental policies related to the energy and transportation sectors and their effectiveness, cap-and-trade markets, and energy efficiency. There is special emphasis on the economics and finance of renewable energy, including an introduction to energy storage.

FNCE 756: Energy Finance (Gilje; 1 cu – Spring)

The objective of this course is to provide students with detailed knowledge of corporate structures, valuation methods, project finance, risk management practices, corporate governance issues, and geo-political risks in the energy industry. In general, this course seeks to provide students with an overall context for understanding energy issues and risks, and how these might affect financing and investment decisions for both providers of energy and end-users of energy.

FNCE 754: Impact Investing (Geczy; 1 cu- Spring)

Impact Investing is a discipline which seeks to generate social benefits as well as financial returns. From boutique beginnings, Impact Investing has surged into the mainstream of global money management, now affecting trillions of dollars of assets. The greatest demand is for strategies and products that promote social good while having expected returns competitive with non-impact options. Impact Investing also permeates the agendas of policymakers, wealthy and public-spirited individuals, academia and philanthropic foundations. It has become a distinct career specialization for finance professionals, and the diversity of its applications is spreading the new discipline’s influence throughout world markets. The primary emphases of this survey course are a conceptual understanding of Impact Investing and how it has manifested in real-world settings. Toward that end, not only will we review a number of dominant “classical” models in investments, we will also examine and analyze how Impact Investing exists (or doesn’t exist) within those contexts and how proponents and critics have responded. We will also focus on the real world via case studies and live examples. Students will organize into groups to discover, research, analyze and present team research projects, some or all of which may be published.

LGST 815: Environmental Management, Law, and Policy (Visiting Prof. Michael Vandenbergh; 1 cu- Spring 2020)

This course provides an introduction to environmental management by focusing on foundational concepts of environmental law and policy and how they affect business decisions. The primary aim of the course is to give students a deeper practical sense of the important relationship between business and the natural environment, the existing legal and policy framework of environmental protection, and how business managers can think about managing their relationship with both the environment and the law.

MGMT 720: Corporate Diplomacy (Henisz; 1 cu- Spring)

Are you well prepared to manage or analyze business challenges and competitive threats in a variety of political and social environments? For example, what should you do to dissuade or counter an individual critic armed with a camera phone and a YouTube account from filming water contamination on site? Or a decentralized grassroots organization that seemingly pops up overnight, appears to have no single leader or headquarters, and yet is quite successful in capturing media attention around your land acquisition program? Or a government official who, because of a tight reelection campaign or an internal challenge from a populist general, turns on you and denounces energy reform? Lone individuals, small activist groups and unexpected political shifts have done extensive damage to the reputations – and value – of multinationals in recent years. And yet most companies don’t plan for, or even think about, investing in building the kinds of solid relationships with community leaders, governments, NGOs, and other key players that can help them avoid such crises and, when necessary, draw upon their reservoir of stakeholder capital to respond quickly and decisively when a challenge or threat emerges. This semester-long class provides an integrative perspective towards the management of these risks and opportunities. It highlights that better assessment of stakeholder opinion, understanding of how stakeholders impact firm value and of how to infuse stakeholder relationships with trust to unlock that value are increasingly critical elements of a firm’s long-term success, particularly in extractive industries such as upstream oil & gas or mining, wind and solar power, as well as industries with heavy negative environmental impact. Firms must also focus on continual improvement in their stakeholder engagement, reinforcing their actions with strategic communications and via organizational culture. The course will give students a combination of practical tools and the latest academic thinking in the emerging field of corporate diplomacy with heavy case representation from energy and the environment.

MKTG 733: Marketing for Social Impact (Small; .5 cu- Fall)

Private and public sector firms increasingly use marketing strategies to engage their customers and stakeholders around social impact. To do so, managers need to understand how best to engage and influence customers to behave in ways that have positive social effects. This course focuses on the strategies for changing the behavior of a target segment of consumers on key issues in the public interest (e.g., health behaviors, energy efficiency, poverty reduction, fundraising for social causes). How managers partner with organizations (e.g., non-profits, government) to achieve social impact will also be explored.

OIDD/BEPP 761: Risk Analysis and Environmental Management (Kousky; 1 cu – Fall)

This course is designed to introduce students to the role of risk assessment, risk perception, and risk management in dealing with uncertain health, safety, and environmental risks including the threat of terrorism. It explores the role of decision analysis as well as the use of scenarios for dealing with these problems. The course will evaluate the role of policy tools such as risk communication, economic incentives, insurance, regulation, and private-public partnerships in developing strategies for managing these risks. A project will enable students to apply the concepts discussed in the course to a concrete problem.

OIDD 762: Environmental Sustainability and Value Creation (Kousky; .5 cu- Fall)

This course provides an overview of topics related to corporate sustainability with a focus on how environmentally sustainable approaches can create value for the firm.  We will explore trends in corporate practices and consider specific examples to examine the interactions between the firm and the environment.  Several guest lecturers will discuss how they have addressed sustainability within their company.  This course has three objectives: to increase students’ knowledge of sustainability practices and their impact on firm performance; to teach students to think strategically and act entrepreneurially on environmental issues; to help students design business approaches to improve environmental outcomes, while simultaneously creating value.

OIDD 525X: Thinking with Models (Kimbrough; 1 cu- to be offered in AY2020-2021)

This course is an upper-level successor to OIDD 325, “Thinking with Models,” focusing on more advanced techniques and concepts, and on models pertaining to energy and sustainability. Models are lenses. They are instruments with which we view, interpret, and give meaning to data. In this course, students will be exposed to and do work in all phases of the modeling life-cycle, including model design and specification, model construction (including data gathering and testing), extraction of information from models during post-solution analysis, and creation of studies that use modeling results to support conclusions for scientific or decision making purposes. In addition, the course will cover critical assessments of fielded models and studies using them. The course will focus broadly on models pertaining to energy and sustainability. This is not only an inherently interesting and important area, but it is very much a public one. In consequence, models, data, and studies using them are publicly and profusely available, as is excellent journalism, which facilitates introductions to specific topics. The course covers selected topics in energy and sustainability. Essential background will be presented as needed, but the course is not a comprehensive overview of energy and sustainability. Further, while we shall often discuss policy implications of findings from models and studies using them, this is not a course about policy making or policy analysis.  Prerequisite: OIDD 325 or equivalent exposure to programming, or permission of the instructor.

(2) UNIVERSITY COURSES (1 cu permitted; no advance approval necessary)

Students may count up to 1 credit unit of coursework from courses outside of Wharton toward the BEES MBA Major. The courses below do not require advance approval of the Director of the BEES Major:

  • EAS 301/501: Climate Policy and Technology
  • EAS 306/506: Electricity Systems and Markets
  • EAS 402/502: Renewable Energy and its Impacts
  • MEAM 402/502: Energy Engineering
  • ENVS 669-660: Corporate Sustainability Strategies
  • ENVS 673-660: The Future of Water
  • ENVS 674-660: Life Cycle Analysis
  • LAW 919: Energy Law and Climate Change

(3) COURSES BY PETITION (1 cu permitted with advance approval of the Director of the BEES MBA Major)

We request that students reach out to the Director of the Major, Eric Orts, with a cc to Joanne Spigonardo, prior to the start of the semester in which the course will be taken, or at the latest, within the first two weeks of classes. Requests after a course has been completed are unlikely to be granted. The request should include a copy of the syllabus for the course and a brief statement as to why the course would meet the criteria below. Two types of courses are likely to be approved: (1) non-Wharton courses in which the primary focus is on topics relating to energy, environment, and sustainability, such as those listed here:; or (2) Wharton courses in which energy, environment, and sustainability are not the primary focus, but in which the subject matter is highly relevant to energy, environment, and sustainability, and where the student will complete a substantial research project during the course that focuses expressly on energy, environment, or sustainability

In addition to these courses that count for credit toward the BEES Major, we encourage but do not require MBA students majoring in BEES to take LGST 613X: Business, Social Responsibility, and the Environment (Orts;.5 cu- next offered Spring 2020, Q3 & Q4; Fall 2020, Q1). This course does not count toward the 4 cu required of students majoring in BEES, but can be taken to fulfill students’ core Legal Studies and Business Ethics requirement. This course will focus on the social and environmental responsibilities of business that may extend beyond profit maximization. The profit-maximizing view of business purpose is the one most frequently modeled in business school classes. This course presents students with the opportunity to explore a principal alternative perspective: that business owes a “social responsibility” that includes, but goes beyond profits. If business firms are conceived as social institutions that can themselves affect the “basic rules of society” rather than simply taking them as given, then the question becomes how business can or should do so. Take, for example, the global challenge of climate disruption treated in this course. Business operations are surely “part of the problem” in the sense of being the source of the production and release of large quantities of greenhouse gases every year. But can and should business also become “part of the solution”? If so, how? What role does or should business play in lobbying for or against laws regulating environmental harm? Do business firms have an ethical, if not a legal responsibility at least to minimize their own carbon footprints or other externally harmful actions? Should business firms partner with other firms or nonprofit organizations to advance their preferred environmental agendas? When social or environmental priorities such as these collide directly with the profit motive, how should these two mandates be properly reconciled? Similar questions may be asked about other social challenges in the world today, including challenges to democratic values, poverty reduction, freshwater supplies, and global health issues affecting those less able to pay for life-saving drugs and medical services.