International business and sustainable development minors give CMU business students edge in workforce

Iron Mountain junior Krista Testolin was searching for a minor last year that would complement her environmental policy and biology majors.

She saw a flier in the Engineering and Technology building about a new International Business and Sustainable Development minor and was intrigued by what it had to offer.

“I really wanted to learn more of the business side of things and thought it could really be beneficial,” Testolin said. "I was really interested in the sustainable development part, too. I was president of Take Back the Tap on campus and thought it would give me more insight on how different water systems can be developed.”

This is the second year the minor is being offered, and, although there is still only a single digit number of students signed up, Professor of Management Van Miller said it will give them the skill set to work for a company that has interest in sustainability.

“What’s happening is more and more corporations are having to put out sustainability reports,” Miller said. “And the students here would be well enough prepared that they could get involved in that area.”

Central Michigan University is the only university in Michigan that offers International Business and Sustainable Development as a combined minor.

Miller teaches the final two courses required, MGT 400: Global Concepts for Sustainable Development and MGT 487, the project course for sustainable development.

In MGT 487, students get involved in a real-world project to implement what they learned in the classroom.

This semester, students will focus on water issues. The class will visit Nestle Waters and Steelcase Inc., an office furniture company, in Big Rapids.

“We are going to visit their plants, talk to them about what they’re doing, and then we will figure out a project we can do based on what we learned,” Miller said.

Originally, Miller was expecting mostly business students to sign up but has noticed just the opposite.

“What I’m finding is most of the students signing up so far are not from (the College of Business),” Miller said. “But, they know with what they’re studying; they want to be more versatile and better prepared in this area because we link business and sustainable development together.”

Miller said the interaction between the different types of students will build a strong rapport between each other.

“I don’t want it to be overloaded with business students,” Miller said. “A background in the sciences (like biology and chemistry) is very useful, and business students tend to not be that good at those sciences. So it’s really great to have in there a chemistry student, a business student, an engineering student, because they can definitely complement each other.”