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Social Enterprise News

March 21, 2004

Spring Newsletter - Professor Profile - Geoffrey Heal

Business in Society, a new course taught by Professor Geoffrey Heal, explores conflicts that can arise between maximizing profits and doing what is good for stakeholders and society.


Geoff Heal

“Overall I take an optimistic position: in more cases than not, you can do well by doing good. But this may require some innovative thinking.” —Professor Geoffrey Heal, Paul Garrett Professor of Public Policy and Business Responsibility, Columbia Business School, Finance and Economics Division. BA, Cambridge University, 1966; MA, 1968; PhD, 1968

In conjunction with the integration of ethics and corporate social responsibility into the MBA core curriculum, the Social Enterprise Program has launched an exciting new course—Business in Society: Doing Well by Doing Good. Taught by Professor Geoffrey Heal, the course explores conflicts that can arise between maximizing profits and doing what is good for stakeholders and society.

Social enterprise issues have been a longtime focus of Heal’s research. As a member of the Pew Oceans Commission, an esteemed panel of scientists, business leaders and senior elected officials, Heal called for immediate action to restore ocean wildlife and protect ocean ecosystems.

“My interest is in the economic costs and benefits of environmental conservation,” Heal says. “There’s a lot of propaganda to the effect that conservation is always economically hard, which is just not true. It’s frequently beneficial, and there are quite a lot of [countries] that actually benefit from it.”

Heal is also the director of Columbia’s Center for Economy Environment and Society and a director of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a group founded by eminent scientists to promote sound scientific thinking about environmental issues. His recent books include Valuing the Future, Nature and the Marketplace, Topological Social Choice, Sustainability: Dynamics and Uncertainty and Environmental Markets.

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