Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise

Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise

This sustainability centre is part of NBS's Sustainability Centres Community, representing business schools from around the world. Find out more.

Picture of Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise

Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise

Ann Arbor, United States

Ross School of Business, School for Environment and Sustainability
University of Michigan


To create a sustainable world through the power of business.
The Erb Institute is a partnership between the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and the School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) at the University of Michigan. Institute research, teaching and business engagement are the means by which we partner with, and influence, businesses toward progressive action on social and environmental sustainability. 
The University of Michigan is known for groundbreaking research, and the Erb Institute has contributed significant scholarly works and applied research on business sustainability to this wellspring. Our direct business engagement takes our research further, turning ideas into action through on-the-ground projects, executive education and conferences with companies, social enterprises and nonprofits committed to business sustainability.
In 20 years of teaching, we’ve graduated over 450 students who are leaders in sustainability in more than 20 countries.

Main Activities 

Our dual-degree teaching program, in which graduate students receive their MBA from Ross and their MS from SEAS, has a 20-year tradition of change agents who are redefining the very function of business. The MBA/MS is not only the foundation of our programming but also the funnel for developing tomorrow’s business sustainability leaders. 
Undergraduate Initiatives are currently underway to expand our expertise in sustainability education to the undergraduate population at the University of Michigan through coursework and action-based learning experiences.
Executive education has been an exciting and welcome addition to our lineup. The institute, in collaboration with Michigan Ross Executive Education, has developed programming that addresses the risks and opportunities of sustainability with an eye to profitability and long-term competitiveness. Frameworks and skill development form the base of our program, but through a unique follow-up component, “trying and doing” become “baked in.”  Learning by doing allows professionals to address hurdles and creates a feedback loop that accelerates the process.
Conversations With Consequence
Erb roundtable discussions are a way to bring thought leaders and executives from business, academia, government and nonprofits to address particular themes on sustainability, such as goal-setting, identifying and confronting systemic challenges and developing new business models.
The institute is focused on putting the tools for “doing” sustainability into the hands of business. Our toolboxes are designed specifically with this goal in mind. Conceptualized around the Erb Sustainability Life Cycle, our toolbox series springs from a stakeholder-based view of the firm. Each toolbox is designed as a simple, step-by-step approach.
Our scholarly research can also help businesses address strategic sustainability questions and make sense of the multitude of sustainability threats and opportunities, through our Deep-Dive Research and shorter-term Rapid-Response Research. 
Erb Partnership Projects provide an opportunity for a limited number of companies to advance their sustainability agendas by working directly with the Erb Institute and its high-caliber dual-degree MBA/MS students. 
Businesses can create positive change by tapping into institute resources to help meet their business objectives. The institute matches partners with focused and engaged students, who have demonstrated interest in the company’s sector or industry, to tackle both specific sustainability issues and broader strategy questions. 

Organizational Structure

Faculty Director Joe Árvai, and two additional core faculty members, Tom Lyon and Andrew Hoffman, have endowed chairs and dual appointments in both Ross and SEAS. In the fall of 2017, the Erb Institute added its fourth faculty member, Sara Soderstrom, assistant professor of Organizational Studies and Program in the Environment at the University of Michigan. We also welcome postdoctoral fellows each year who support the institute’s research objectives.
The institute’s staff includes Managing Director Terry Nelidov and six other full-time people across Student-Alumni Affairs, Research and Marketing & Communications. The Erb Institute is privileged to have two advisory boards, the Strategic Advisory Council and the External Advisory Board, which meet with the institute annually to provide feedback on current programming as well as provide strategic direction that keeps our research, teaching and business engagement focused on the most important sustainability issues among a changing global landscape. 


Terry Nelidov
Managing Director