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Centre for Building Sustainable Value · Lexi Wright

New leadership and ambitions for the 2023-24 HBA Sustainability Certificate

Sep 4, 2023

The 2023-24 HBA Sustainability Certificate will be co-led by inspirational professors Oana Branzei and Diane-Laure Arjaliès and introduces new electives, partners, and opportunities for enrolled students. The year’s theme is ‘The Future We Make.’ 

For 13 years, the HBA Sustainability Certificate has been a keystone feature of the Ivey undergraduate experience. Oana Branzei has run this program since its inception, graduating over 320 students. 

From 2023-2025, Diane-Laure Arjaliès will be joining our certificate program as co-director. With her extensive expertise and passion for sustainability, she brings a wealth of knowledge to our program. As the lead of Ivey's Sustainable Finance Lab, she is at the forefront of pushing the boundaries of knowledge and practice in the field. Her research focuses on exploring innovative approaches and collective actions that can contribute to the transformation of financial markets towards sustainability. 

This year’s theme: The Future We Make 

This year, Ivey turned 100 years old. Collectively, the school is imagining its future in this ever-changing world. Many are imagining “a future filled with promise, innovation, and a commitment to a more sustainable and prosperous world." However, Oana and Diane-Laure want to take this thinking a step further to consider ‘The Future We Make.’  

The theme draws from literature on future-making, which is “the work of making sense of possible and probable futures, and evaluating, negotiating, and giving form to preferred ones.” In the case of students in the Sustainability Certificate, the future they will make is a “sustainable” one. Yet, what this means to each individual may be very different. Each student will consider how their ideal, sustainable future can be made, rather than just dreamed about. 

Diane-Laure believes that “we need to not only make the future but make a bright future, a just future, and a socially fair future.” Oana wants to explore how we “make a future that radically changes society and our operating system in ways that are going to be more just, more sustainable, and more inclusive.” She is notably looking forward to exploring how we can “break and hijack the systems that no longer serve us and replace them with radical alternatives” alongside the class of HBA students.  

New and innovative courses 

Alongside staple elective courses that have been part of the Sustainability Certificate, such as Technology and Humanity, Reputation Management, and Learning from Leaders, two new classes have joined the elective pool in the past two years. These include ESG In-Action, an in-depth course discussing corporate governance, Scope 3 emissions, and more, and Systems Thinking in an Age of Disruption, which will equip students with systems-thinking tools to solve today’s grand challenges.  

Impact Assessment, taught by Diane-Laure, will be the compulsory course this year. Students will dive deep into practical assessment skills and work with partners such as Oneida Nation of the Thames and Ivey Academy. 

Co-curriculars that go beyond 

In addition to being exposed to concepts that will make them change-making leaders through courses, students will also undergo five key co-curricular experiences.  

  1. Students will begin their journeys to purpose’ with mentorship from HBA Sustainability Certificate fellows and exemplary stories of future-making from Ivey alumni who will guide them through “developing, designing, seeing, and making the career” that you want. 
  2. The group will engage in a half-day live case with Ivey alumni leading sustainability initiatives at Microsoft, and re-imagine together the intersection between Artificial Intelligence, environment and society 
  3. A full-day of programming on system hijacking with how-to examples from microplastics to design, featuring real-time system-changing initiatives in agri-tech, bio-tech, water-tech, and fem-tech, will immerse and inspire students to construct alternative futures. 
  4. The annual Worldchangers event will feature several award-winning Ivey alumni actively shaping the future of fashion and showing how climate neutral certifications can change our world.  
  5. Before graduating from the Certificate program, students will celebrate their ‘journey to purpose’, then elevate their character to face tomorrow’s Grand Challenges by learning how to “build a just and prosperous future” from book author Kimberley Milani and her guest panel of diverse, future-minded leaders doing just that, today. 

The co-directors each leave students with a challenge for the year. Diane-Laure pushes students to “make the Certificate yours” and reap every benefit they can as new opportunities present themselves. Oana encourages students to “try on alternative futures”, so they can become the change they want to see. 

About Oana Branzei  

Oana Branzei is Donald F. Hunter Professor of International Business and Professor of Strategy and Sustainability at the Ivey Business School at Western University in Canada. She is also the founding Director of the HBA Sustainability Certificate program and the Master of Science Graduate Diploma in Sustainability; the founder, convener and host of PhD Sustainability Academy, an annual event of the Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability; and co-founder of the recently inaugurated virtual-based and accessible Spring Institute. Ivey’s champion for the United Nation’s Principles for Responsible Education for a decade (until 2019), Oana has since pioneered the ESG and SDG case curations and global conversations for Ivey Publishing. Oana heads her global Resilience lab, originally formed with funding from her 2010 Early Researcher Award, and currently featuring collaborations with rapid-response research teams tackling grand challenges on five continents. 

Professor Branzei, a Western Faculty Scholar (2018-2020) currently cross-appointed with Western University’s Centre for Climate Change, Sustainable Livelihoods and Health, vice chairs the Western University Research Board, represents Ivey on Western’s Senate, is an Advisory Board member for the Africa Institute, and sits on the Steering Committee for Western’s Carbon Solutions Fund. Oana served as adjudicator for the Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund and has chaired the Social Sciences Panel for the Early Researcher Awards for Ontario’s Ministry of Innovation since 2018. 

About Diane-Laure Arjaliès 

Diane-Laure is an Associate Professor (with tenure) belonging to the ‘Sustainability,’ ‘Managerial Accounting and Control,’ and ‘General Management’ groups at the Ivey Business School – a cross-disciplinary appointment that reflects my research and teaching. Her ambition is to push the boundaries of knowledge and practice by investigating how fashioning new devices, and collective actions can help transform financial markets towards sustainability. Over the years, she has studied the emergence of responsible investing, impact assessment, integrated reporting, and alternative currencies. Her work in this area has won me several academic, teaching, and professional prizes. 

Diane-Laure founded and has led the Sustainable Finance Lab at the Centre for Building Sustainable Value. She is currently working on an extensive research program on conservation finance, aiming to channel capital towards protecting ecosystems, notably through conservation impact bonds. As an ethnographer, she enjoys doing field research and sharing my experience with students and practitioners. Her work is published at the Oxford University Press, Chains of Finance: How Investment Management is Shaped, and in major academic journals across various disciplines. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, she initiated and led an interdisciplinary, multimedia, and multilingual project, Breaking Boundaries, to offer a lasting record of collective and individual experiences during the lockdown and its aftermath. This book contributes to establishing the accounting discipline’s role in recording critical moments in our global history.