Ilitch School marketing professor Andrea Tangari highlights sustainability in business

Savvy business students know that to get into the business and sustainability class created by Associate Professor of Marketing Andrea Tangari, they need to act fast—the course fills every time.

Tangari created the Business and Sustainability course (MKT 7950) roughly five years ago and followed up with a new speaker series in urban sustainability offered for the first time this Winter 2020 semester.

“When I created the Business and Sustainability course, there really was no business course out there like that,” Tangari says. “Business schools in general really weren't talking about environmental sustainability, and I felt like there was a gap there.”

The newest course was constructed with the help of Neil Hawkins, the former chief sustainability officer and corporate vice president for environment, health and safety at the Dow Chemical Company and now the President and COO of the Erb Family Foundation.

“We focus on the issues in Detroit, and we brought in leaders from different organizations and nonprofits,” she says. “I'm finding that students really want to see this broad spectrum of choices that you can go into—I have students who are interested in learning about nonprofits or foundations, an alternative to a standard corporation.”

Tangari’s commitment to educating Ilitch School students on sustainability is just one of her many ventures into understanding the role businesses can play in creating a better world.

“I'm in the area of promoting consumer welfare,” she says. “One of things I've been working most prominently on is nutrition labeling, and how that impacts healthy or unhealthy choices. I've also looked at sustainability labeling.”

“I’ve been doing the research on food labeling for most of my research career and I've found some of that research has been used by agencies like the FDA,” she says. “That’s always a good feeling, to know you contributed to major changes that are happening.”

While other business schools are updating their programs to respond to an increased student interest in social enterprises and sustainability, Tangari she sees Wayne State and the Ilitch School of Business being “uniquely situated to be able to give students an understanding of how businesses impact society specific to the urban setting in Detroit.”

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