Building Board Expertise on Sustainability

Invest in your understanding of ESG today to make sustainable business decisions tomorrow.

Board members face an ever-increasing range of sustainability risks and opportunities, from the fiduciary role of directors for oversight of climate, and integration of sustainability and strategy, to the evolving disclosure landscape.

This program brings together business and sustainability experts from Michigan Ross, the Erb Institute and Ceres, and non-profit leaders in sustainable business to deliver a unique educational experience and provide the essential climate and sustainability skills needed by every board member in today's rapidly evolving board rooms.

Who Should Attend
  • Board Members – New or Senior Executives who plan to serve on boards in the near future
  • Professionals from different disciplines, including law, investor relations, public affairs, and policy, media, and communications
  • Past participants include C-Suite Executives and Senior Executives 

Let’s discuss how this program can help you achieve your goals. 
Contact us at or call 734-763-1000​.

Exceptional Online Experience

  • The course combines the deep academic research and pedagogy of the Ross School of Business with Ceres’ decades-long sustainability expertise and impact
  • The combination of Ross Faculty, Ceres experts, and subject matter leaders provides a unique learning opportunity
  • The course is delivered on Ross’ world-class Corp U learning platform

Program Structure Overview*

Module 1: Why is ESG Crucial for Boards?
Examine the pros and cons of shareholder primacy and stakeholder governance. What are sustainability, ESG, and corporate purpose? Why does it matter for your company? Michigan Ross faculty, Ceres, and a team of experts will help you understand the emergence of ESG backlash. And how boards should use sustainability to guide decisions.

Module 2: What ESG Risks and Opportunities Must Boards Understand?
Explore key areas and developments around the ESG risks and opportunities boards are increasingly encountering and the critical importance of materiality assessment.

Module 3: What ESG Oversight Do Investors Expect from Boards?
Explore the key elements of investor expectations for board oversight of sustainability, and focus on the board’s evolving role in managing expectations and engaging with investors.

Module 4: How Can the Board Set Aspirational ESG Goals and Attain Them?
Focus on embedding ESG in organizational strategy. Learn about ESG reporting to connect targets and compensation.  Michigan Ross Faculty and a team of experts will help you explore and examine materiality and issues that your organization and/or industry face through materiality & stakeholder exercises.

Module 5: What are Best Practices for Disclosing ESG Risks and Opportunities?
Explore the evolving framework of ESG disclosure and the board’s role in this critical area. We examine frameworks for disclosure and key domestic and international trends.

Module 6: How Can Boards Align Corporate Political Activity to Meet Sustainability Commitments?
Examine vital topics surrounding corporate political responsibility, including gaining a deeper understanding of policy engagement and the board’s role in overseeing corporate political responsibility.

Module 7: How Should Boards Be Structured to Oversee Sustainability Commitments?
In our capstone module, we will draw together the key elements of the previous six weeks to examine the relationship between ESG oversight and board performance. We will explore effective board structures and characteristics and challenge our students to take action based on knowledge shared and gained during our course.

Program Capstone: Next Steps-
Taking Action on Program Insights and Lessons

*This sample schedule is intended to represent the program structure and content. Timing and session topics are illustrative and subject to change.

The Experts

  • Mike Barger, Co-Faculty Director, Clinical Assistant Professor of Business Administration
  • Tom Lyon, Co-Faculty Director, Professor of Environment and Sustainability
  • Elizabeth Doty, Director, Corporate Political Responsibility Taskforce
  • Jerry Davis, Professor of Management and Organizations
  • Chris Rider, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies
  • Sara Soderstrom, Assistant Professor of Organizational Studies
  • Norman Bishara, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs, Professor of Business Law and Ethics 

Ceres Subject Matter Experts:

  • Mindy Lubber, President & CEO
  • Amit Bando, Chief Economist and Senior Advisor for Just and Inclusive Economics
  • Anne Kelly, Vice President, Government Relations
  • Dan Bakal, Senior Program Director, Climate & Energy
  • Steven Clarke, Senior Director, Climate & Energy
  • Steven Rothstein, Managing Director, Ceres Accelerator for Sustainable Capital Markets

Time Commitment

This course includes three 60-minute synchronous events and up to three optional maximum 60-minute available office hours. There is no planned group work. The average weekly time requirement expected for this program is 2-4 hours.

Program Certification

Program participants will receive a certificate and a social media-friendly badge after course completion.


After successful program completion, you will earn 1 credit toward the Distinguished Leader Certificate from Michigan Ross Executive Education.

About Michigan Ross

Michigan Ross Executive Education was recently named the #1 North America Executive Education Provider in the Financial Times, 2022. Based on survey responses from managers around the globe, the FT ranking weighs factors from faculty to program follow-up. Among the highlights, Ross earned 9.6/10 for the overall satisfaction score for open programs and the Top 5 for Executive Education Faculty. We offer approximately 30 different open enrollment in-person and online course programs and various custom solutions annually, serving over 4,000 business executives worldwide. 

Ross delivers open enrollment programs in multiple formats around the globe and custom solutions wherever our partners request. Join us for any open enrollment program offerings, or contact us to learn more about our custom solutions opportunities. We invite you to experience first-hand the Michigan Ross difference. 

About Ceres

Ceres is a non-profit organization working with the most influential capital market leaders to solve the world’s greatest sustainability challenges. Through our powerful networks and global collaborations with investors, companies, and nonprofits, we drive action and inspire equitable market-based and policy solutions throughout the economy to build a just and sustainable future.

  • An understanding of the role of sustainability in stakeholder relationships
  • An understanding of the importance of sustainability targets and commitments
  • Heightened board competence in climate and sustainability
  • Insight into how boards use sustainability to guide decisions
  • Expanded integration of sustainability and strategy
  • Broadened networks of knowledge and climate competence  
  • Increased effectiveness of board oversight
  • An enhanced understanding of the increasingly complex fiduciary responsibilities of board members
  • Examine investor perspectives and expectations on sustainability
  • Insights into current sustainability-related disclosure developments
  • Resources to respond to the evolving disclosure landscape
  • A deep understanding of how to exercise oversight of climate risks and opportunities
  • Tools for the implementation of effective board structures

Gilbert and Ruth Whitaker Professor of Business Administration
Professor of Management and Organizations
Associate Professor of Organizational Studies and Associate Professor of Program in the Environment, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Clinical Assistant Professor of Business Administration
Dow Professor of Sustainable Science, Technology and Commerce
Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy
Professor of Environment and Sustainability
Thomas C. Kinnear Professor and Associate Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies
Director, Corporate Political Responsibility Taskforce, The Erb Institute at University of Michigan
Senior Program Director, Climate and Energy at Ceres
Chief Economist and Senior Advisor for Just and Inclusive Economics at Ceres

Faculty Thought Leadership
Access Program Info

Tuition & Fees
  • Register now through January 1, 2024, and save $1,000 US off the regular program fee of $3,500 US.
  • Fee includes all program materials
  • Fee must be paid in full in US dollars (net of any tax) before access to the course platform can be granted
  • Program discounts may be available; contact us for specific details
  • See our website for our Cancellation, Transfer & Substitution Policy
  • Contact us for group discount eligibility
  • For more information, please contact | +1.734.763.1000