MBA Major

Business, Energy, Environment and Sustainability

The MBA Major in Business, Energy, Environment and Sustainability (“BEES”) is designed to provide in-depth foundations for those interested in the complex relationships between business and the natural environment, management of environmental risks, and the business and economics of energy. As global energy markets grow and change rapidly and environmental challenges rise, there is a strong need for a new generation of expert business leaders who understand the rapidly evolving trends in business models, technology, regulation, and financing. Students choosing the BEES MBA Major will be ideally suited for the ever-expanding set of careers in sustainable business, energy companies, green investing, energy banking, consulting, the non-profit world, and the government. Students will gain insight into these challenges through an inter-disciplinary approach.

Relevant courses are offered by multiple departments at Wharton. Additional courses on business, energy, and the environment can be credited toward the Wharton BEES MBA Major from the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the School of Design, among other programs, as specified below.

If you are a current Wharton Student: Questions from current Wharton students regarding this program may be directed to Professor Arthur van Benthem and Professor Sarah E. Light serve as the MBA Major Advisors.

For applicants to Wharton:  If you are interested in applying to Wharton, please direct your questions to the MBA Admissions Office: Phone: +1.215.898.6183.

Requirements for the Major: Four Course Units (cu)

The BEES MBA Major requires four (4) units of coursework as indicated below. At least three (3) units of coursework must be from the list of Wharton courses below. Up to one (1) unit may be from the list of pre-approved non-Wharton courses (also below).

Acronyms on the following list of courses refer to the following departments: Accounting (ACCT), Business Economics and Public Policy (BEPP), Finance (FNCE), Legal Studies and Business Ethics (LGST), Management (MGMT), Marketing (MKTG), and Operations, Information and Decisions Department (OIDD).

(1) WHARTON COURSES (at least 3 cu required from this list)

Following each course title, we note when this course will be offered during the coming academic year.

ACCT/BEPP 7640: Climate and Financial Markets (.5 cu)

Financial markets play an important role in financing the transition to a net-zero economy. In this course, we examine how climate risks—both physical and regulatory—affect firms, financial markets, and markets for energy and real estate. We discuss how concerns about various climate risks influence the way investors allocate their capital and exercise their oversight of firms. We start with the price impacts of climate risks in equity, debt, and real estate markets, including the role played by shareholder activism and engagement, divestment, and portfolio alignment. Next, we study carbon markets with a focus on pricing and discuss strategies to hedge climate risks through financial instruments such as carbon or renewable energy credits and derivative contracts. We then explore how different firms in the global energy sector—ranging from oil & gas to renewable energy to electric utilities—have responded to climate-related pressures from their investors and other stakeholders. We investigate the impact of ESG reporting on financial markets and on the choices that managers make and discuss the costs and benefits of regulating ESG reporting and the impact of greenwashing. We pay special attention to the impact of climate risk and reporting on decisions inside organizations, such as spin-offs, hedging, catastrophe insurance, and the structure of executive compensation contracts. Further topics include life-cycle emissions and the social cost of carbon.

BEPP/OIDD 7630: Energy Markets and Policy (1 cu)

Over the last several decades, energy markets have become some of the most dynamic markets of the world economy. Traditional fossil fuel and electricity markets have seen a partial shift from heavy regulation to market-driven incentives while rising environmental concerns have led to a wide array of new regulations and “environmental markets”. The growth of renewable energy is another source of rapid change but brings with it a whole new set of technological and policy challenges. This changing energy landscape requires quick adaptation from energy companies but also offers opportunities to turn regulations into new business. The objective of this course is to provide the economist’s perspective on a broad range of topics that professionals in the energy industry will encounter. Topics include the effect of competition, market power, and scarcity on energy prices, extraction and pricing of oil and gas, geopolitical uncertainty and risk in hydrocarbon investments, the environmental policies related to the energy and transportation sectors, and their effectiveness, cap-and-trade markets, and energy efficiency. There is special emphasis on the economics and finance of renewable energy, including an introduction to energy storage.

BEPP 7700: Public Finance and Policy (1 cu)

This course explores the economics and politics of public policy to provide an analytic framework for considering why, how, and with what success/failure government intervenes in a variety of policy areas. Particular attention will be paid to important policy issues relating to taxation, social security, low-income assistance, health insurance, education (both K-12 and higher ed), the environment, and government deficits. The costs and benefits of alternative policies will be explored along with the distribution of responsibilities between the federal, state, and local governments. While the course will focus primarily on U.S. policies, the topics covered (e.g., tax reform, deficits versus austerity, etc.) are currently at the center of the policy debate in many other industrialized countries as well.

FNCE 7540: Impact Investing (1 cu)

Impact Investing is a discipline which seeks to generate social benefits as well as financial returns. From boutique beginnings, Impact Investing has surged into the mainstream of global money management, now affecting trillions of dollars of assets. The greatest demand is for strategies and products that promote social good while having expected returns competitive with non-impact options. Impact Investing also permeates the agendas of policymakers, wealthy and public-spirited individuals, academia, and philanthropic foundations. It has become a distinct career specialization for finance professionals, and the diversity of its applications is spreading the new discipline’s influence throughout world markets. The primary emphases of this survey course are a conceptual understanding of Impact Investing and how it has manifested in real-world settings. Toward that end, not only will we review a number of dominant “classical” models in investments, we will also examine and analyze how Impact Investing exists (or doesn’t exist) within those contexts and how proponents and critics have responded. We will also focus on the real world via case studies and live examples. Students will organize into groups to discover, research, analyze and present team research projects, some or all of which may be published.

FNCE 7560: Energy Finance (1 cu)

The objective of this course is to provide students with detailed knowledge of corporate structures, valuation methods, project finance, risk management practices, corporate governance issues, and geo-political and technological risks in the energy industry. In general, this course seeks to provide students with an overall context for understanding energy issues and risks and how these might affect financing and investment decisions for both providers of energy and end-users of energy

LGST 6470: The Business and Governance of Water (1 cu)

Virtually every business imaginable–from oil refining to semiconductor manufacturing to cloud computing—requires copious supplies of fresh water. As climate change makes many parts of the world hotter and drier, it is increasingly important for today’s business leaders to be able to understand water challenges and to implement solutions that will enable businesses to thrive in the future.  This course will begin by focusing on global water risks and global, national, and local water governance. It will also cover private governance and water. The course will examine the duties of corporate officers and directors in developing and implementing a firm’s water sustainability program, how major water projects are financed, and the business ethics issues surrounding “doing the right thing” in a module on water and ESG (environmental, social and governance factors). It will conclude with an “H2O Shark Tank” exercise where student groups pitch their best ideas for sustainable water solutions to a panel of potential funders, including investment banks, corporate executives, and foundation leaders.

LGST/OIDD 7620: Environmental Sustainability and Value Creation (.5 cu)

This course provides an overview of topics related to corporate sustainability with a focus on how environmentally sustainable approaches can create value for the firm.  We will explore trends in corporate practices and consider specific examples to examine the interactions between the firm and the environment.  Several guest lecturers will discuss how they have addressed sustainability within their company.  This course has three objectives: to increase students’ knowledge of sustainability practices and their impact on firm performance; to teach students to think strategically and act entrepreneurially on environmental issues; to help students design business approaches to improve environmental outcomes, while simultaneously creating value.

LGST 8150: Environmental Management, Law, and Policy (1 cu)

This course provides an introduction to environmental management by focusing on foundational concepts of environmental law and policy and how they affect business decisions. The primary aim of the course is to give students a deeper practical sense of the important relationship between business and the natural environment, the existing legal and policy framework of environmental protection, and how business managers can think about managing their relationship with both the environment and the law.

MGMT 720: Corporate Diplomacy (1 cu)

Are you well prepared to manage or analyze business challenges and competitive threats in a variety of political and social environments? For example, what should you do to dissuade or counter an individual critic armed with a camera phone and a YouTube account from filming water contamination on site? Or a decentralized grassroots organization that seemingly pops up overnight, appears to have no single leader or headquarters, and yet is quite successful in capturing media attention around your land acquisition program? Or a government official who, because of a tight reelection campaign or an internal challenge from a populist general, turns on you and denounces energy reform? Lone individuals, small activist groups, and unexpected political shifts have done extensive damage to the reputations – and value – of multinationals in recent years. And yet most companies don’t plan for, or even think about, investing in building the kinds of solid relationships with community leaders, governments, NGOs, and other key players that can help them avoid such crises and, when necessary, draw upon their reservoir of stakeholder capital to respond quickly and decisively when a challenge or threat emerges. This semester-long class provides an integrative perspective towards the management of these risks and opportunities. It highlights that better assessment of stakeholder opinion, understanding of how stakeholders impact firm value, and of how to infuse stakeholder relationships with trust to unlock that value are increasingly critical elements of a firm’s long-term success, particularly in extractive industries such as upstream oil & gas or mining, wind, and solar power, as well as industries with heavy negative environmental impact. Firms must also focus on continual improvement in their stakeholder engagement, reinforcing their actions with strategic communications and via organizational culture. The course will give students a combination of practical tools and the latest academic thinking in the emerging field of corporate diplomacy with heavy case representation from energy and the environment.

MGMT 7230X: Strategy and Environmental Sustainability (.5 cu)

Environmental sustainability issues are one of the defining problems of our time. While governments and NGOs will have to play important roles, without active involvement of businesses, it will be impossible to make sufficient progress on these issues. Globalization and Digitization have been two major disruptive developments that organizations have faced (and are still facing). ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) issues are the latest large-scale development that will shape companies’ futures. This course will focus on the “E” of ESG. As with any large change, environmental sustainability poses significant business challenges but also tremendous opportunities. We will study these issues both from the perspective of incumbent firms that have to adapt their business practices and from firms (incumbents and new start-ups) that will take advantage of the new opportunities that are being created.

MKTG 7330: Marketing for Social Impact (.5 cu)

Private and public sector firms increasingly use marketing strategies to engage their customers and stakeholders around social impact. To do so, managers need to understand how best to engage and influence customers to behave in ways that have positive social effects. This course focuses on the strategies for changing the behavior of a target segment of consumers on key issues in the public interest (e.g., health behaviors, energy efficiency, poverty reduction, fundraising for social causes). How managers partner with organizations (e.g., non-profits, government) to achieve social impact will also be explored.

OIDD/BEPP 7610: Risk Analysis and Environmental Management (1 cu)

This course will introduce students to concepts in risk governance. We will delve into the three pillars of risk analysis: risk assessment, risk management, and risk communication. The course will spend time on risk financing, including insurance markets. There will be particular emphasis on climate risk management, including both physical impact risk and transition risk, although the course will also discuss several other examples, including management of environmental risks, natural disasters, and cyber-security, among other examples. The course will cover how people perceive risks and the impact this has on risk management. We will explore public policy surrounding risk management and how the public and private sector can successfully work together to build resilience, particularly to changing risks.

OIDD 5250: Thinking with Models (1 cu)

This course is an upper-level successor to OIDD 325, “Thinking with Models,” focusing on more advanced techniques and concepts and on models pertaining to energy and sustainability. Models are lenses. They are instruments with which we view, interpret, and give meaning to data. In this course, students will be exposed to and do work in all phases of the modeling life-cycle, including model design and specification, model construction (including data gathering and testing), extraction of information from models during post-solution analysis, and creation of studies that use modeling results to support conclusions for scientific or decision-making purposes. In addition, the course will cover critical assessments of fielded models and studies using them. The course will focus broadly on models pertaining to energy and sustainability. This is not only an inherently interesting and important area, but it is very much a public one. In consequence, models, data, and studies using them are publicly and profusely available, as is excellent journalism, which facilitates introductions to specific topics. The course covers selected topics in energy and sustainability. Essential background will be presented as needed, but the course is not a comprehensive overview of energy and sustainability. Further, while we shall often discuss policy implications of findings from models and studies using them, this is not a course about policy making or policy analysis.  Prerequisite: OIDD 325 or equivalent exposure to programming or permission of the instructor.

(2) UNIVERSITY COURSES (1 cu permitted; no advance approval necessary)

Students may count up to 1 credit unit of coursework from courses outside of Wharton toward the BEES MBA Major. The courses below do not require advance approval from the Director of the BEES Major:

  • EAS 301/505: Climate Policy and Technology
  • EAS 306/506: Electricity Systems and Markets
  • EAS 402/502: Renewable Energy and its Impacts
  • ENVS 644: Energy, Waste, and the Environment
  • ENVS 673-660: The Future of Water
  • ENVS 674-660: Life Cycle Analysis
  • LAW 919: Energy Law and Climate Change
  • LAW 613-001: Climate Change and the Energy Evolution
  • CBE 505: Carbon Capture

In order to enroll in non-Wharton courses, Wharton MBA policy is to e-mail  Pass/Fail courses may not be counted toward the major.

(3) COURSES BY PETITION (1 cu permitted with advance approval of the Director of the BEES MBA Major)

The BEES MBA Major requires four-course units. At least three-course units must be from the list of Wharton courses. Up to one-course unit may be from the list of pre-approved non-Wharton courses. If a student believes that a course is missing from this list, they may petition the Director of the BEES Major to add the course to the list prior to the start of the semester in which the course will be taken, or at the latest, within the first two weeks of the semester. Requests after a course has been completed will not be granted. The request should include a copy of the syllabus for the course and a brief statement as to why the course should be added. Courses that are likely to be approved are non-Wharton courses in which the primary focus is on topics relating to energy, environment, and sustainability, such as those listed here.

Global Modular Courses

Please note that Global Modular Courses, if focused on energy, environment, and climate-related issues may be relevant to and count toward the BEES major with advance permission of the Faculty Advisors. Further details on GMCs are available here.

For more information about resources at Wharton and the University of Pennsylvania more broadly on climate, energy, environment, and sustainability, please click here.

In addition to these courses that count for credit toward the BEES Major, we encourage but do not require MBA students majoring in BEES to take LGST 613: Business, Social Responsibility, and the Environment (.5 cu). This course does not count toward the 4 credit units required of students majoring in BEES, but can be taken to fulfill students’ core Legal Studies and Business Ethics requirement. This course will focus on the social and environmental responsibilities of business.