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Florida Professor Facilitating Earth Charter Class

Florida Professor Facilitating Earth Charter Class

Earth Charter International (ECI) is offering a brand-new class called “Business and Ethical Leadership for Sustainability.” Earth Charter International has an education center that helps to equip those that take their courses with the ability to see things and connect them to sustainability. The Earth Charter is a document curated for people to agree to work together to create a more just, more sustainable planet. The Earth Charter consists of four main pillars that can sum up the intentions of the document. The pillars are: Respect and Care for the Community of Life; Ecological Integrity; Social and Economic Justice; and Democracy, Nonviolence, and Peace. 

The online, facilitated course spans eight weeks. It intends to equip participants with the tools needed to prioritize and elevate business ethics and sustainability practices in the workplace, using the Earth Charter as a framework. Some themes of the class consist of but are not limited to, examining ethical challenges business leaders face in the 21st century, the role and responsibility of business in social and environmental justice, and assessing the ethical sustainability performance of business and industry. 

Dr. Chris Beehner facilitates the class and is a business professor at Seminole State College of Florida. With 10 years of experience in both business management and sustainability, he is well equipped to teach the subject. 

Before Dr. Beehner was a professor, he worked in supply-chain management. He suggested greener practices, which caused some crazy looks from his colleagues. Later, his company became involved with solar and renewable energy, and he began learning about the products. Thus, getting his feet wet in the world of sustainability and starting the journey to where he is today. 

He became a professor in business at a small online college, then started working at Seminole State. About five years ago, the Dean suggested Dr. Beehner develop a course on Sustainable Business. “I filled the classroom the first time,” he said. Once the class gained traction, he started getting invited to speak on panels and give speeches about the topic. 

“My wife one day said, ‘This is your future, you’re going to be a subject matter expert, and everything you do is going to be about Sustainable Business,’” said Dr. Beehner. She said this several years ago, and Sustainable Business continues to be his main topic, “Now, this is all I want to do.” 

Business used to work towards making a profit solely, “That’s changed,” said Dr. Beehner. 

“People are coming out more and more saying, ‘I want to work for a company that has a conscious, that does the right thing for society, and for people, and the environment’; and more and more consumers are saying, ‘If I have the choice between two companies I’m going to do business with the one that’s doing the right thing and cares about the planet.’” 

Dr. Beehner sometimes receives push-back during, or about, his class. He said he likes to start a class by grabbing his student’s attention if they have yet to understand the significance of sustainability to business fully. 

Dr. Beehner begins, “I don’t care if you care about the planet. I don’t care if you believe in Climate Change. That doesn’t matter to me. Your customers do, and your employees do. So, whether you believe in it or not, I don’t care, you just better do it, or you’ll be behind.” 

Taking this seemingly bold approach to Sustainable Business may be a big reason for the class's popularity. This is the philosophy that Dr. Beehner subscribes to in the courses he teaches on campus, and this will be evident in the Earth Charter class. 

This course is for anyone, but especially for managers and employees. The business’ main concern is their customers and clients. If sustainability is becoming increasingly important to consumers, it will become increasingly important to companies. 

To register for the class starting June 1st, click here.

For more information, contact mhopkins@medcombenefits.com. 

“The companies that are setting the trend in the future are saying, ‘The planet matters.'"