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Cultivating Critical Thinking About Environmental Impacts
Discussing environmental issues in management courses can be challenging for those without specialized expertise in sustainable business. In part, this is true because much of what many students “know” about environmental impacts is wrong or largely irrelevant to management decision making. Life cycle assessment can provide a powerful, fact-based entry point for discussions of environmental issues in management. This experiential exercise applies life cycle assessment to a familiar product to give participants a framework for understanding environmental issues. This exercise draws on participants’ own knowledge to challenge their assumptions about potential impacts from a product and to identify opportunities for reducing its environmental impact. The exercise is appropriate for undergraduate or graduate management classes, ranging from Introduction to Management courses to upper level courses on Business in Society. This exercise is designed to help management professors lead more insightful conversations about how to address environmental impacts from products and services.