Walker College of Business Professor of Accounting Tammy Kowalczyk, has been selected to receive a 2018 Appalachian Innovation Scholars Program (AISP) award, which provides up to $10,000 in funding and is supported by the Office of the Chancellor and Academic Affairs.
Kowalczyk's proposal for an applied learning initiative called "Impact Clinic" focuses on helping businesses assess the impacts of their operations across the "triple bottom line," i.e., environmental stewardship, social equity and economic benefit.
Last fall, a pilot of the "Impact Clinic" was launched through the Assessing Sustainability in the Global Business Environment course offered in Appalachian's Walker College of Business. Faculty members and students from several different disciplines, in collaboration with members of the local business community, worked in teams to provide impact assessments and improvement plans to the businesses.
"The purpose of the 'Impact Clinic' initiative," Kowalczyk said, "is threefold: to provide experiential learning to students, to promote more sustainable practices and impacts among businesses and to provide an opportunity for academic engagement with community. This is facilitated by using a service-learning approach, where students engage with businesses to perform impact assessments using an Impact Assessment Tool from B Lab, a nonprofit organization that was established to help businesses assess and improve their impacts for the purpose of achieving a B certification."
She said the primary societal benefit of the "Impact Clinic" will be sustainable development in the community through the growth of business practices that create more positive and responsible environmental, social and economic impacts.
According to Kowalczyk, these initiatives should allow for engagement across traditional academic boundaries and discipline silos so that students can appreciate the value of a multidisciplinary approach to sustainable development. "Students who participate in the clinic, and on projects fostered by it, gain experience in working in a multidisciplinary, service-learning environment, which develops professional skills needed to be effective change-makers after graduation," she said.