By MATT BLOIS
Columbia State Community College is starting a new certificate program that will introduce students to sustainability programs in business.
Gwen Barker, a sales representative with Milepost Consulting who helped develop the program, said that more than ever consumers and society as a whole expect businesses to make sure they are taking steps to make their business sustainable.
“Sustainability is not just about green grass and recycling, it extends into health and financial and social. There’s so much more to it,” Barker said. “What you used to think about 10 years ago for sustainability is totally different now. Now, you’re worried about what kind of retirement you have. Making sure people in your business plan for their retirement. That’s considered part of sustainability.”
The college collaborated with Milepost Consulting to develop the program. Barker said the college approached the company because there are so many businesses are looking for ways to improve their sustainability.
“A lot of the local environmental groups have a desire for the sustainability piece. Because of all the social pressures companies all over are having to answer, what is your social purpose?” Barker said.
The certificate program is built for people who are already working, with classes scheduled on Fridays and Saturdays. There are three sessions throughout 2019. The first session starts on April 12.
Barker said some larger companies, such as Nissan, might bring the program to their offices to make it easier for employees to participate.
Vanderbilt and Lipscomb already offer courses in sustainability, but Barker said Columbia State wanted to offer a cheaper option and one that was based in Williamson County.
The program includes four courses and students must complete them all to receive a certificate. The program begins with an introduction to sustainability. There are also courses on operating a sustainable business, leadership while promoting sustainable practices and communicating about sustainability.
The courses will be taught be Jeff Gowdy and Sabrina Cowden. Gowdy manages a consulting firm and also teaches at the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University. Cowden is the CEO of Milepost Consulting and was previously a program director for the Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps.