Environmental Policy & Management

The concentration in environmental policy and management examines the relationship between business and the natural environment, including human health and safety as well as addressing a range of policy issues. This concentration provides an in-depth foundation for those interested in pursuing careers in the growing environmental sector of the economy, whether in private business, government, or environmental consulting. It takes an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on faculty and courses from several Wharton departments.

Students are encouraged to pursue additional coursework on environmental and technological risks in parallel with the Wharton program through the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

What type of student is this concentration a good fit for?

Students that are interested in social impact, entrepreneurship, innovation, risk management, and circular economy are excellent fits for this concentration.  The role of sustainability has evolved in the past several years, sustainability is no longer a trend.  It is now in the fabric of every organization, from its internal operations to its procurement policies, as well as strategic investments.

Is there a particular course or experience that can help determine if this concentration is a good fit?

LGST 215: Environmental Management is a good choice for students considering the concentration.

Are there any other resources/experiences to help a student determine if this concentration is the right fit?

Students should definitely come to the Wharton Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) events, which are offered throughout the year and are all complimentary.  All of our events are posted well in advance on our website.  Coming to these events will give students a taste of the field and the many companies that could hire them.  Also, students should consider internships that focus on sustainability and social impact, for example with the City of Philadelphia, Nature Conservancy, Urban Land Institute, etc.

What skills or knowledge will students gain from this concentration?

The concentration examines the relationship between business and the natural environment, including human health and safety as well as addressing a range of policy issues. This concentration provides an in-depth foundation for those interested in pursuing careers in the growing environmental sector of the economy, whether in private business, government, or environmental consulting.

What careers or industries is this concentration a good fit for?

Supply chain management, circular economy careers, careers in chemical companies, water companies, energy companies, consulting and entrepreneurship

Are there other concentrations or upper-level courses in other departments that would pair well with this concentration?

Many courses in Earth and Environmental Studies would serve to complement this concentration.  Students should consult with the concentration advisor to review these options.

Student Profile: Connie Chen

Why did you choose this concentration?

This concentration matched my interests in integrating sustainability and business, and had several classes I wanted to take. Environmental Policy & Management allows related classes to count as part of the concentration, so I appreciated the flexibility.

Which course did you choose to take first in this concentration and why?

I took BEPP 262: Environmental & Energy Economics and Policy sophomore fall, which I hoped would give me a good framework to understand different players in the energy market and factors that affect types of energy we consume. The class itself gave me a very solid understanding of economic incentives of cartels like OPEC or consumers, and how effective economic policy actually is. This was actually the first Wharton class that I took with fewer than 20 people, which provided more directed learning and a stronger community.

Which was your favorite course in this concentration and why?

OIDD 290: Decision Processes was definitely an interesting course, as it provided frameworks and pressed common thought processes, which changed my style of making decisions. This course was very broad, so it can be related to environmental topics, but applies to other topics.

What advice would you give to a student who is considering this concentration?

This concentration affords a rare opportunity to take courses related specifically to sustainability and policy, so it’s just depends on where your interests lie. If you know you’re very interested in working with sustainability in the future, this concentration will allow you to explore that interest!

Do you have a second concentration? If so, what is it and why?

I’m also concentrating in finance, although I’m almost done my environmental policy and management concentration. Many of the courses I took are more qualitative, and I’m hoping to gain more quantitative skills from my finance concentration to complement my knowledge. The balance from both courseloads has allowed me to better understand business developments.

What concentration-related skills have you used during internships or other work experiences? 

All my summer experiences were related in some way. Last summer I worked in Singapore at a private equity fund specializing in renewables. My freshman summer I worked at the Department of Justice Environmental Crimes division and went on a Penn International Business Volunteers trip consulting for One Million Lights, a non-profit that distributes solar to impoverished areas. The cool part was that my experiences and classes both complemented each other, with ideas from my time in Singapore supplementing my International Comparative Management class, and knowledge from my Energy Economics class helping me make decisions while working on deals.

Student Profile: Daniel Castan

Why did you choose this concentration?

Freshman year, I took two sustainability-oriented courses as electives and found them to be very separate from my business-related studies in Wharton. But in sophomore year, I took a class with Professor Eric Orts called Environmental Management: Law and Policy, and I realized how much business connects with the environment. In today’s world, understanding sustainability as a method for value creation is extremely important for businesses. Many businesses are becoming increasingly cognizant of the benefits that even a basic understanding of environmental policy can create, whether it’s cost-cutting or improving their reputation. As a result, I think it’s the environment is becoming an increasingly important stakeholder in business decisions, and this concentration really helps you grasp how to channel sustainability to operate more efficiently in the business world.

Which was your favorite course in this concentration and why?

While every class I’ve taken has been extremely beneficial and interesting, LGST 215: Environmental Management: Policy & Law was my first and favorite course in the concentration. The class really introduced me to the combination of business and sustainability that is becoming increasingly important in the modern era, and without this class, I’m not sure I would have become as engaged in the field as I am. In this course, we were given a lot of flexibility to decide on our final project, which was to address environmental policy in a real-world business context. I decided to focus on the ecotourism industry in Costa Rica, as one of my uncles operates in this space. This enabled me to relate heavily to the subject matter on a personal level, and really connect various interests to gain a better understanding of environmental policy and management.

What advice would you give to a student who is considering this concentration?

I would tell students to try to link their everyday studies and projects to sustainability-related solutions in at least some way. At Wharton, it’s really easy to become involved in a variety of things and get distracted by a bunch of different stimuli. But if you consistently try to think about how different areas of business relate to environmental policy, your capacity for problem solving develops on a much more multi-dimensional basis. This allows you to connect the concentration across various disciplines, and will enable you to use your skill set more effectively no matter what career path you take.

Do you have a second concentration? If so, what is it and why?

I’m concentrating in finance as well. Although there are a lot of benefits to concentrating in environmental policy and management, I sought a concentration in finance to develop more technical skills. But the two concentrations are not mutually exclusive; they work together to create a more holistic education for me, where I’m able to understand how various disciplines of business interact to create value for companies. In the future, I hope to engage in green investing or improve my company’s operations from a sustainability standpoint.

What concentration-related skills have you used during internships or other work experiences? 

Problem solving and creativity are probably the two moist important skills I’ve used. This concentration is a little less structured than traditional finance or marketing concentrations, which lends itself to a lot of flexibility in thinking. In each class I’ve taken for this concentration, I have been challenged to apply concepts to develop solutions to real-world business problems. This has led me to think critically about a variety of dimensions in addressing environmentally-related challenges or opportunities that business face, which translated indirectly to my internships in corporate finance, sales and trading, and investment banking.

Student Profile: Henry Gager

Why did you choose this concentration?

I chose this concentration because of my long growing interest in sustainability, energy, and the environment. I remember getting swept up in various “Green Initiatives” back in elementary and middle school, and a curiosity for energy developed as I grew older.

Which course did you take first and why?

The first course I took in this concentration was LGST 215: Environmental Management: Law and Policy.  The syllabus was set up to cover a broad range of energy and environmental topics, and seemed like the perfect place to dive in.

Which was your favorite course in this concentration and why?

My favorite course would have to be BEPP 263: Energy and Environmental Economics and Policy.  The course covered a huge amount of material throughout the semester, covering both stylized micro-economic applications and more hypothetical macro-issues regarding the usage and trading of carbon emissions (among countless other environmental and energy related topics).  The professor was incredibly thorough and knowledgable, we heard from a handful of truly intriguing guest speakers, and the class was centered around satisfying intellectual curiosity.

What advice would you give to a student who is considering this concentration?

I would say that if you have any interest in energy or the environment at all, consider taking a class in this concentration.  The classes are as niche driven as one might think, and really focus on more general, globally applicable energy-related topics, that are extremely relevant to all other course work one undergoes here at Wharton.

Do you have a second concentration? If so, what is it and why?

I am also have a Business Economics & Public Policy (BEPP) concentration.  I feel like many Wharton students are turned away from BEPP after the first required course, but the after taking my first concentration course, I knew BEPP was for me.  I love looking at situations from the angle of an economist, while also interpreting the ways in which different governmental policies can have vastly different affects.  The concentration offers a solid balance between quantitative and qualitative thinking, which is a huge draw for me.

What concentration-related skills have you used during internships or other work experiences? 

I was lucky enough to work at an energy startup the past two summers, so I got to see the inner workings of a niche energy market business, apply some critical thinking skills with regards to energy consumption and usage patterns, and undertake some intensive research.