The new Applied Sustainability Center at the University of Arkansas will pour new resources into developing sustainable business practices, thanks partly to a $1.5 million donation from Walmart. The center is an interdisciplinary initiative of the Sam M. Walton College of Business.
"Sustainability can only be realized when managers understand the nature of the challenges and opportunities, and have the tools and ways to move on them," said Jon Johnson, Walton College professor of management.
In its first year, the center will focus on two projects. The first will harness the knowledge of experts in carbon reduction to focus on reducing the embodied fossil-fuel content of products. The second project will focus on sustainable food and agriculture, in collaboration with the university's Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. The center will also host a speaker series, with an aim to expose the business community in northwest Arkansas, as well as students and faculty, to national thought leaders on sustainability theory.
The center will also develop pilot training programs for Walmart buyers, suppliers and other decision makers on specific sustainability issues. The program will be designed to be applicable—and customizable—to any kind of business.