New MS-ESM Program Director Hopes to Inspire Future Leaders of Sustainable Business Solutions
Kerrie Carfagno, the newly appointed Master of Science in Environment and Sustainability Management (MS-ESM) program director, brings two decades of educational experience to Georgetown and a bold vision: to prepare students to make better business decisions that have a significant impact on our world.
Carfagno is passionate about understanding sustainability through both the lenses of business and science. Her journey in academia began when she first co-taught a business course with an environmental focus.
“I realized how important sustainable practices are for business all over the world, especially considering how much disruptive change is going to continue to happen. Sustainability is just long-term good decision-making,” she said.
Her experience led her to teach sustainability courses at various universities, including Penn State, the University of Alberta, John Carroll University, and most recently nine years at the University of Virginia. During her time in academia, she gained valuable knowledge about sustainable business practices, global approaches to climate disruption, and energy independence.
When reflecting on her career, one of the experiences she enjoyed the most was the opportunity to take groups of students from the University of Virginia to Denmark, where they studied different methods of achieving energy autonomy and green business solutions.
Now, as the MS-ESM director at Georgetown, which is a joint degree between Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Earth Commons, Carfagno plans on continuing to build an enriching academic program with transformational and joyful experiences for students, faculty, and staff. She is confident that the MS-ESM program fosters positive change and recognizes the value of merging science and business to both combat climate change and drive a successful world economy.
Carfagno said the MS-ESM program director position is a dream come true.
“I feel privileged to teach and be the director of the program. It’s energizing l to talk with the students and it’s a privilege to be part of something that can make a real and vital impact on the world,” she said.
Driven by a belief that the world needs leaders who can navigate the challenges of climate change, she envisions the students as future change-makers who are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to address sustainability in every industry.
“In the next 25 years, there are going to be massive changes, and I want our students to be prepared so that they can lead those changes,” she said.
In the classroom, Carfagno, alongside co-academic director Vishal Agrawal, encourages the students to see beyond the everyday challenges. They use case studies to engage students in critical discussions about sustainability in various industries. Additionally, students analyze the impact of climate change on stability, development, and business as part of the program’s curriculum.
Carfagno recognizes the potential of the cohort model and the significance behind the student body diversity. She is impressed by the thoughtful questions and discussions that unfold in the classroom.
“It (a cohort model) means that we get peer mentorship and various levels of real-world experience that everyone ultimately benefits from. When students incorporate lessons learned from their jobs and internships into classroom discussions it benefits everyone,” she said.
Carfagno believes that the conversation about sustainability is no longer optional, as every industry is trying to understand how to address the real disruption of climate change.
“I don’t think there’s any career that won’t be impacted by it. Heat waves are messy. Fires are messy. Superstorms are messy. And messy problems have multiple variables. If we don’t look at all the variables, we don’t fully understand the risks, and then e we are not making good business decisions,” she explained.
Carfagno not only sees sustainability through a business perspective, but also of hope. While there are significant challenges ahead, she also envisions opportunities for a more sustainable, just, and profitable world.
“The good news is that we have solutions, and oftentimes, solutions have multiple benefits. In this case, businesses can make systemic changes that have a profound impact,” she said.
With a commitment to taking action and creating lasting impact, Carfagno is already making a difference at McDonough.