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Future of Business course will examine business as driver for greater sustainability. Issues include corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship, green business, supply chain, sourcing, human resources, compliance, cooperative ownership, corporate structures, product design, distribution, shipping, public relations, etc. Course includes model business, business plan, business pitch. 

The POWER of Business

Driving Value, Driving Change

Can capitalism be part of the solution? From economic inequality and exploitation of workers to the climate crisis, there is no question that business is responsible for many of the challenges that face us. In this course, students will delve beneath the rhetoric to better understand how our current economic system functions, and the factors driving a greater balance between profit, people and planet. They will consider the negative and positive impacts at each stage of the lifecycle of products they use regularly. They will identify the forces compelling many large corporations to adopt more sustainable practices, and evaluate a range of alternative business models, from social enterprises to worker-owned cooperatives. Finally, they will synthesize their insights to develop and pitch their own business plan to positively inflect the world. 

Will a more enlightened capitalism emerge to meet people’s needs, and curb the impacts of climate change, or will urgent issues require more radical transformations?  Students will emerge from this course equipped to use business as a lever for change, whether their future lies in the boardroom, organizing grassroots campaigns, or both.

Lead Instructor: Peter Nicholson

Peter—who graduated from Oberlin in 1991—is passionate about educating the next generation of sustainability-oriented leaders, and has consistently incorporated teaching in his professional activities for almost 15 years. This is his third summer as Lead Instructor for the Business course.

Peter leads a multifaceted career focused on innovating greater social, environmental and economic sustainability. He has consulted on and undertaken a diverse range of projects for clients, including municipal government agencies, institutional nonprofits, and small businesses, and large corporations. Dedicated to empowering the next generation of sustainability-minded leaders, Peter regularly mentors interns, and has lead a variety of education programs based on his professional experience, including one designed for corporate sustainability professionals. In 2002, he established the nonprofit Foresight Design Initiative, for which he serves as the Executive Director. Foresight's projects included establishing the Chicago Sustainable Business Alliance, the city's first network for enterprises pursuing greater sustainability. In 2012, he formed Foresight Bright, LLC, an innovation consulting practice forcused on private sector clients. Prior to this, he held a variety of positions in the private and nonprofit sectors. In each, he has consistently pursued growth and innovation. Peter began his study of Sustainability and Design at the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology and holds a bachelors degree from Oberlin College.

Potential Field Trips & Guest Speakers

Each Foresight Prep course includes an average of 10-15 guest speakers or field trip sites. The final schedule will be set in May-June 2017. Below is a selection of some of students' favorite guests from past years of our Business course. 

Jessica Bonanno 

Jessica is Director of Strategy Development and Operations for The Democracy Collaborative, key strategists behind the Evergreen Cooperatives. The Cooperatives are working to create living wage jobs in Cleveland through the establishment of employee-owned, for-profit businesses, including a laundry, energy company and growers’ cooperative. The Cooperatives are pursuing a community wealth-building strategy aimed at building the capacity of communities and individuals to increase asset ownership, anchor jobs locally, strengthen the municipal tax base, prevent financial resources from “leaking out” of the area, and ensure local economic stability. Jessica's job includes contributing  to the Democracy Collaborative's internal organizational development, serving as a consultant and project lead, and providing business development support to the Evergreen Cooperatives. Her primary areas of expertise include impact investing, organizational design, and business development, with a special emphasis on start-ups, social ventures, and small to medium sized enterprises. 

Jarami Bond

Jarami is Manager of Sustainability for Interface, Inc. Founded in 1973, Interface is the world’s largest manufacturer of modular carpet for commercial and residential applications. Its founder Ray Anderson (who passed away in 2011) is widely acknowledged as one of the earliest and most influential visionaries in sustainable business. Starting in 1994, they've made environmental sustainability a focus, especially in reducing the use of petroleum, and since 1996, they've chosen to adopt an innovation-based green strategy, which has meant the ongoing and active pursuit of new sustainability-related opportunities. In 2006, they announced a program called Mission Zero, with a goal of eliminating any negative impact the company may have on the environment by 2020. Jarami graduated from North Carolina State University in May 2015 with a B.S. in Environmental Science and a minor in Sustainable Materials and Technology. He is committed to guiding purpose-driven companies toward meeting aggressive sustainability goals through the strategic development, implementation, and facilitation of green programs and initiatives. Jarami is also experienced at inspiring and engaging employees and external stakeholders, setting vision that aligns with corporate values and directives, supporting the integration of responsible practices into all business functions, and leveraging sustainability positioning in the sales marketplace.

Mansfield Frazier

Mansfield is the founder of the Vineyards of Chateau Hough, through which he has transformed three vacant land banks into an urban vineyard, and an abandoned home into an aquaponics biocellar, in order to generate income for youth, veterans and formerly incarcerated residents. Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood is predominately African American, and well-known as the site of 1966 riots stemming from racial inequity. The project provides hands-on training to individuals returning home from a period of incarceration, thus providing work opportunities for the community. In addition to serving as the project’s Executive Director, Mansfield Frazier publishes Reentry Advocate, a national magazine that goes into various prisons, libraries, county jails, halfway houses and prison ministries around the United States. Mr. Frazier initially developed his own voice as a writer and journalist through the publication of his essay collection “From Behind the Wall,” which addresses his own experience of incarceration and issues of racism and the U.S. prison system. His writing currently is featured nationally on Newsweek/The Daily Beast, and locally on both and The Cleveland Leader.

Bob Langert 

Broadly recognized as a leader in corporate sustainability, Bob retired in 2015 from his position as Vice President for Global Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability for McDonald's Corporation. He has engaged in social responsibility issues since the late 1980s. He joined McDonald’s system in 1983 with management positions in logistics, packaging and purchasing. In the 1990s, he had responsibilities for the environment, energy management, animal welfare, and Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities’ grants. He was appointed McDonald’s first VP to lead sustainability in 2006. Bob led the development of McDonald’s 2020 Sustainability Vision and Framework, including McDonald’s commitment to the environment, supply chain sustainability, and balanced menu choices. 

Lanita Stevens 

Lanita is Manager of Product Stewardship and Sustainability for USG Corporation. As the inventor of wallboard and mineral wool ceiling tile, USG has been a leader in the building materials industry for more than 110 years. Their products—which include gypsum wallboard, joint compound, ceiling suspension systems, acoustical panels and more—are used in everything from major commercial developments and residential housing to simple home improvements. In her role as Manager of Product Stewardship and Sustainability, Lanita is responsible for managing sustainable product certification initiatives, including low-emitting, Life Cycle Assessments and Environmental Product Declaration development. She holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from California State University, Sacramento and an M.S. in Environmental Management from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Prior to USG she worked as an environmental manager for Mobil Chemical Company and Waste Management, Inc. Lanita is a member of the National Association for Environmental Management, Air & Waste Management Association, International Society of Sustainability Professionals and the ASTM E.60 Committee on Sustainability.


Andrew Watterson

In his current role as Head of Sustainability for KeyBank, Mr. Watterson leads the company in the development and execution of their sustainability strategy, which includes working with the corporate responsibility team and bank leadership to balance margin and mission to achieve dependable results. Previously, Andrew worked as a Senior Consultant at BrownFlynn, providing sustainability and corporate responsibility consulting, communications and training for clients. He served in the City of Cleveland’s office for over six years, first as Sustainability Director, and then as Chief of Sustainability, advising the city on policies related to energy, buildings, fleet and purchasing; overseeing the Office of Sustainability; and leading the coordination of the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 initiative. Prior to his time with the City, Andrew worked in real estate development, focusing on historic restoration and green building projects. Andrew holds a B.A. in environmental policy and economics from Bates College, and a master’s in positive organizational development from Case Western Reserve University.