How UB is preparing students for an ESG-centric world

Written by Christopher Pellenz, MS Accounting ’23:

Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) is a hot topic in business today. iESGs are areas in which businesses can make an impact  outside of their core profit generating activities.  

In an article published by, they described ESG as “three key factors when measuring the sustainability and ethical impact of an investment in a business or company.” More specifically, Environment refers to an organization’s impact on the natural environment; Social refers to impacts on people; and Governance refers to an organization’s policies with which it holds itself accountable.  

In March  2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed rules that would require public companies to disclose certain climate-related financial data and greenhouse gas emissions information in their public disclosure filings. ESG is becoming more important to investors as they evaluate various investment decisions and may be what tips the scale to enable a company to secure equity capital. 

As ESG becomes an area of increasing importance in our society,  institutions have also made significant efforts to adapt to the changing landscape created by the integration of social and commercial goals. The University at Buffalo (UB) is a prime example of an institution that has answered this calling from the University level all the way down to the classroom level. 

The university was ranked No. 1 in the world in addressing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal pertaining to climate action, according to the 2021 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings.  One of the initiatives that contributed to UB receiving such high praise is their climate action plan that has put them on pace to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. Vice President Kamala Harris recently visited the University at Buffalo and said UB was a “model” for sustainability work. 

The sustainability efforts that UB has been engaging in are extensive. Another example is that the Finance Department at the UB School of Management has been researching ESG criteria which investors use to evaluate companies. Below is an excerpt  further detailing some of this research: 

Cristian Tiu, associate professor and chair of finance, recently co-authored a study examining the costs and benefits of socially responsible investment policies on university endowment funds, which was highlighted on the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment blog. Meanwhile, Feng (Jack) Jiang, associate professor of finance, led a research team investigating how the risk of sea level rise affected the pricing of bank loans that companies receive. 

Academically, the topics of ESG are being integrated into many of the courses at UB. The SEC’s proposed climate-related disclosures were only introduced this past summer and UB is already covering the subject matter it presents in its course offerings. Intermediate Financial Accounting has an entire week of class dedicated to content on ESG reporting. As time goes on I would expect UB accounting courses to further integrate ESG into its curriculums. The impacts of these disclosures will be better understood as the legislation is finalized which will allow courses at UB to integrate more of ESG subject matter. 

BIO – I was born in Syracuse, NY and I have lived most of my life in Upstate New York. My family now lives in multiple states so I am usually spending time in different areas when I’m not at school in Buffalo. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Accounting from UB in the spring of 2022 and continued onto the MSA program to complete the 150 credit hour CPA requirement. During Undergrad I was able to work internships in both Tax and Audit in order to get experience in some of the main areas in the Accounting profession. I have accepted a full time role as an Audit Associate at KPMG upon graduation in 2023. In my free time I like to relax by socializing with my friends. I also enjoy being in Nature, so when I get the chance I like to go hiking. Lastly, I like to make art whether it be drawing, painting, or something else. 

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