Today @ Colorado State has been replaced by SOURCE. This site exists as an archive of Today @ Colorado State stories between January 1, 2009 and September 8, 2014.


Business is going green

January 13, 2009

Imagine a program that allows you to spend the summer working and traveling while making profit and helping the environment. CSU's College of Business offers such an itinerary, the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise Program, or GSSE.

The program

The program consists of a class of 25 students - 50 percent from the U.S. and 50 percent are international students.

Graduate students enroll in an intense 18-month program where they work with knowledgeable, world-class colleagues, faculty and field partners. Participants work on ventures that have a positive impact from a business perspective and on the world.

The GSSE Masters of Science in Business Administration degree is presented to students who complete the program.

Triple bottom line

Students learn about the concept the triple bottom line which is making sure that your venture is not all about making money but also about the positive/negative effects you have on the environment and the social impact you have on the community.

“We want students to know how to build and manage ventures that will make a profit but we don’t want them to do it at the expense of people, the community or the environment,” says Carl Hammerdorfer, director of GSSE.


The courses offered have been designed to focus on entrepreneurial approaches, developing world markets, and both for profit and non-profit organizations.

The program promises to be intense, challenging, frustrating, and rewarding.

Selection matrix

Each applicant is scored on five different criteria:

  • statement of purpose
  • experience (work and entrepreneurial)
  • past academic performance
  • test scores (GRE or GMAT)
  • letters of recommendation

From beginning to end, the application process takes 4-6 months to complete.

Summer team project

During the summer, teams work domestically and in developing countries on projects they’ve researched and planned. The trip is an essential experience since addressing world issues is vital to the program.

GSSE has completed eight projects domestically and internationally. They will be adding seven more to the list after this summer, including:

  • clean water in Africa
  • low cost solar power in India
  • organic hops in Colorado
  • converting coffee leaves for tea in Ethiopia

International innovations

Zubaida Bai is in her first semester of the GSSE program. After meeting Paul Hudnut, founder of GSSE, during a conference at MIT, she traveled to Fort Collins from India to be part of the program.

“It was basically because of my interest in the idea of social enterprise,” Bai said, “I heard about the program and I sought it out because it filled in the gaps that I couldn’t do by myself.”

Bai’s summer project will focus on identifying cost effective supply chain and manufacturing of appropriate technologies. The four members of her team will attempt to identify products and services that will be attractive to corporate social responsibility in the U.S. and India. They will be applying for grants and doing fundraisers to help reach their goal of a million dollars by December 2009.

Domestic developments

Timothy Wade sought out GSSE because of his interest in the business side of development. He has completed his first semester in the program.

His team of three will be working with an organization in Boulder, Colo., that will focus on sustainable tourism. They will be in Mexico and Guatemala doing consulting work with the local businesses on competitive strategies to combat outside investors that have been collecting the majority of the tourism revenue.

High standards make a good graduate program

Wade feels the intensity is what makes it a worthwhile program, “If you get in, expect to do a lot of work with tough standards. The level that the professors set is very hard and really demanding because that’s what makes it a good graduate program. You definitely have to be thick-skinned.”

GSSE is only in its second year and second cohort of students.

“I feel great about it! It has met and exceeded all of its objectives with the first cohort of students, which is pretty unusual for a start-up,” Hammerdorfer says.

Recommended for others

“I think that I’ve gotten more out of the program then I thought I would. It’s been really overwhelming but the amount of information we get has been very useful,” says Bai, “I would definitely recommend it.”

“It would depend on your interest. If you’re corporation-minded then it’s probably not for you. But if you’re interested in sustainability and building a strong international community then GSSE is a good program for you,” Wade said.

If you are interested in the GSSE Program, recruitment for Cohort-3 is happening now.

All photos courtesy of Carl Hammerdorfer.

Contact: Anh Ha
Phone: (970) 491-4161