Berkeley Haas launches new Climate Solutions Fund 

Aerial view of a massive array of solar panels
An aerial view of Dominion Energy’s Scott Solar farm in Powhatan, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

The Haas School of Business is launching the first student-led Climate Solutions Fund, the latest addition to its comprehensive curriculum to equip the next generation of business leaders with the financial skills to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Beginning in fall 2024, MBA students can enroll in a new course where they serve as investment managers for the $2.37 million fund, learning how to structure financing in complex private markets by co-investing in real-world deals focused on solutions to climate change.

“As the world moves toward a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, we need financial leaders with the skills to navigate the economic revolution we are facing,” says Professor Adair Morse, co-founder of the Sustainable and Impact Finance Center (SAIF), who conceived of the fund and will lead the course. “This economic revolution will be staggeringly disruptive yet will also be a source of more business opportunities across all parts of the country than we’ve seen in 250 years.”

“As the world moves toward a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, we need financial leaders with the skills to navigate the economic revolution we are facing.” —Professor Adair Morse

The new fund was made possible by a lead gift from Allan Holt, MBA 76, along with generous founding donations from Larry Johnson, BS 72, Charlie Michaels, BS 78, and his wife Doris, Scott Pinkus, and Professor Laura D. Tyson, former Haas dean and co-founder of SAIF.

“I am thrilled to help Haas take the lead in training leaders in the emerging area of climate finance,” says Holt, a Senior Partner and Managing Director of The Carlyle Group. “Decarbonizing our economy is the critical issue of our time, and I am committed to supporting future leaders who can spur this transition.”

“Decarbonizing our economy is the critical issue of our time, and I am committed to supporting future leaders who can spur this transition.” —Allan Holt, MBA 76

The multi-asset class private Climate Solutions Fund augments Haas’ unique curriculum under SAIF, which teaches investment management with hands-on experiential learning. It rounds out the public markets-focused Sustainable Investment Fund—the first and the largest student-led sustainable investing fund within a leading business school—and the Haas Impact Fund, a seed/startup capital offering.

A new area of finance

The Climate Solutions Fund curriculum will teach students new designs and uses of finance not traditionally taught in mainstream finance courses, where there are dire needs for leadership, according to  Morse, who saw the need for this financial expertise while serving as deputy assistant secretary of Capital Access in the U.S. Department of the Treasury from 2021-23.

Financing the climate transition requires a diverse and technical tool kit: An estimated $4 trillion to $5 trillion per year will be needed to reshape global energy, transportation, food, and waste infrastructure, and to help companies reinvent supply chains and integrate new technologies, Morse says. 

This level of reinvestment will require every finance tool available, including designing financial structures to mobilize government programs and work with community and industry partners,” she says. “Our goal is to expand how we teach students to provide the leadership and expertise that corporations, financial entities, startups, governments, and philanthropies will need to navigate this transition.”

This level of reinvestment will require every finance tool available, including designing financial structures to mobilize government programs and work with community and industry partners.” —Professor Adair Morse

The fund, and the associated MBA course, are the first at a major business school to focus on complex financing strategies within private markets, including growth equity and debt equity; public-private partnerships with federal and state programs; risk mitigation; identifying the underlying technologies to fuel the low-carbon transition; and envisioning new financial products.   

Students enrolled in the Climate Solutions Fund course will assess investment opportunities in U.S.–based for-profit companies, working with outside investment partners to structure deals. Following a pitch competition, student managers will select one finalist to co-invest $100,000 to $300,000 annually. The fund is intended to generate positive returns over time so that future generations of students can build off the capital.

Stock photo of a biogas plant and farm (Adobe Stock)

Comprehensive curriculum

In addition to the “fund-as-curriculum” courses, SAIF also offers other applied innovation courses such as the Impact and Climate Investing Practicum, where faculty guide small teams of MBA students who are paired with impact investing firms to to gain hands-on experience with impact investing strategy, mapping, and measurement projects.

The courses count toward the Michael’s Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Business. Open to both full-time and evening and weekend MBA students, the certificate requires 9 units of required coursework. Students can create a pathway that’s focused on either bringing a sustainability lens to a mainstream business function or building expertise into a specific industry such as renewable energy or green infrastructure.

In addition to Morse, SAIF is led by Professor Panos Patatoukas, The L.H. Penney Chair in Accounting, and Tyson.

Five major areas of sustainability

The new Climate Solutions Fund is part of Haas’ larger effort to ensure that all students are educated in the fundamentals of sustainability. Haas launched the first student-managed SRI fund in the early 2000s and is now the only top business school to work across five major sustainable business areas: energy, sustainable agriculture and food, real estate and urban economics, corporate accountability, and sustainable finance and accounting, 

The school has combined research on energy conservation and storage, building efficiency, renewable energy sources, and sustainable food with efforts to include climate and equity into the core business curriculum across all programs. All told, Haas offers more than 25 courses with a focus on sustainability.

For students planning careers in managing sustainability challenges in organizations, Haas is also planning to launch a new joint master’s program in 2024 with the Rausser College of Natural Resources to offer an MBA/MS in Climate Solutions. 


Jeffrey R. Bohn, PhD 99
Chief Strategy Officer, One Concern

Headshot of Jeffrey Bohn, PhD 99.The forecasts are calamitous: by 2090, the sea level is expected to rise three feet in the Bay Area, leaving the San Francisco and Oakland airports underwater, according to studies by nonprofit news service Nexus Media.

Epic rainfall will create widespread flooding stretching from San Francisco Bay south into San Jose—along with loss of life and significant property damage.

To Jeffrey R. Bohn, these potential scenarios guide his professional life and present an important question: Can disasters be made less disastrous?

The answer is yes. “Resilience analytics,” as the young field is known, provides critical insights into minimizing risk on a warming planet by suggesting where to avoid building commercial spaces and housing and where to use climate-change mitigation budgets.

“There’s been a massive increase in computing power, so we can do simulations and machine learning today that were unthinkable when I was getting my PhD,” says Bohn, the chief strategy officer at One Concern, whose climate analytics software provides information on the potential financial impacts of weather and climate-related “loss events.”

The company’s tools could change the way insurance, banking, and asset management firms incorporate climate risk into their pricing and services.

Bohn was called to the role after working as a senior advisor and chief research and innovation officer for Swiss Re, a reinsurance company.

“I’ve become more mission driven, trying to figure out a way to make the world more resilient to things like climate change that impact people’s lives,” he says.

The need to embrace change: How to integrate cottage industries for inclusive development 

DesiHangover artisans (Photo credit: Hitesh Kenjale/DesiHangover)

This spring, I embarked on an in-depth study of the captivating realm of cottage industries around the world. I was driven by my desire to understand how cottage industries can be integrated  into a country’s economic development. Take the example of India as a developing country. As India shifts from a largely agrarian to an industry-driven economy, it will face formidable challenges. The crux of addressing this transformation lies in understanding and effectively managing the process, attentively considering the heterogeneous necessities and historical legacies of the populace, rather than resorting to mere mechanization of traditional industries.

Surprisingly,  about 60% of India’s population relies on agriculture as their primary source of livelihood, particularly in rural enclaves. As the economy develops, India must address the question of what is next for agrarian workers. In this context, cottage industries or handicrafts emerge as indispensable facets, exemplified by the exquisite hand-knotted rugs handcrafted by artisans in Jaipur. These industries serve as crucial pillars, supporting the livelihoods of myriad Indians, with an estimated 200 million individuals (equivalent to the entire population of Brazil!) deriving their sustenance from the intricate tapestry of cottage industries. Consequently, the pressing inquiry emerges: How can these industries be seamlessly assimilated into the future trajectory of economic growth without merely advocating for wholesale mechanization?

Preserving the essence

The beauty of cottage industries lies in their traditional methods. They bring a unique characteristic and value to their products that can’t be replicated through modern means. Imagine a painting made by a machine versus one crafted by a passionate artist. The artist’s creativity and personal touch make it priceless. So, as we look to the future, we must find ways to preserve and uplift these traditional skills and values.

Boosting productivity and modernization

To integrate cottage industries into the speed of the modern economy, we need to focus on enhancing productivity and modernizing certain aspects of these industries. Often, traditional processes lack certain efficiency and modernization elements that can assist in better integration with modern markets. By leveraging technology and innovative processes, we can eliminate unnecessary manual labor and allow artisans to focus on the activities that truly add value. This shift can transform the way work is done, positively impacting everyday tasks and income generation.

Streamlining the value chain

Let’s not forget the importance of the entire value chain in this integration process. Many cottage industries face challenges in terms of inefficient systems that hinder their products from reaching the right places. By creating avenues that deploy modern business practices, we can revolutionize the way these industries operate. Imagine more professional and passionate individuals working to solve these pressing problems. Together, we can unlock the full potential of cottage industries and pave the way for inclusive development.

Embracing change for a better future

In a rapidly changing world, we must avoid creating a social imbalance by merely mechanizing cottage industries. Instead, let’s focus on integrating them into new business models and approaches that consider the preservation of traditional value while embracing productivity enhancements and modernization. By doing so, we can foster a balanced and inclusive economic development in India.

A dynamic journey

Let’s remember that the journey towards progress and development is a dynamic one. It requires us to find ways to embrace change while honoring the rich heritage of our cottage industries. Through innovative thinking, skillful integration, and a passionate commitment to inclusive development, we can build a future where cottage industries thrive, traditional skills are valued, and social imbalance is avoided. Together, let’s pave the way for a brighter and more sustainable world!

Read the full research paper:

For-Profit Social Entrepreneurship for Art and Craft Ecosystems in India

Hitesh Kenjale, MBA 23, is a graduate of the full-time MBA program. He is the founder of DesiHangover, a venture focused on driving grassroots supply-chain innovation to enable legacy artisans to bring authentic crafts to formal markets.

Berkeley Haas launches Sustainable Business Research Prize

Photo credit: Berkeley Haas

Berkeley, Calif. – The Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, today announced the launch of the Berkeley Haas Sustainable Business Research Prize. The prize encourages serious research with timely, real-world business-practice applications among business school faculty around the world related to responsible business, sustainability, and ESG (environmental, social, and governance) issues. 

This new prize seeks to recognize the most significant research papers that hold the greatest potential to catalyze immediate change in business management practices in the face of urgent global environmental crises. Additionally, the prize will motivate thought leadership globally and add to the body of knowledge and intellectual capital in the role of business in society. 

Recognizing that the global market is not acting fast enough to address the climate change crisis, the 2023 prize will seek papers that explore economic levers that motivate individuals, corporations, and markets to act with urgency on climate and resource-saving initiatives. 

This Haas Sustainable Business Research Prize is supported by Allan Spivack, MBA 80 and former President & CEO of RGI Home. Spivack has long been at the vanguard of sustainable business and serves on the Senior Advisory Board of the Berkeley Haas Center for Responsible Business. 

“The University of California, Berkeley has a tradition of cutting-edge innovation across many academic and research disciplines,” Spivack said. “My intention in creating the Sustainable Business Research Prize is to provide a platform in which the urgent conversations around climate change and industry can meet the moment.”

A committee of well-regarded sustainability researchers and practitioners at the Haas School of Business will choose one academic study to win the $20,000 prize. The committee will be chaired by Berkeley Haas Dean Ann E. Harrison and made up of faculty members Reed Walker, Transamerica Chair in Business Strategy; Assistant Professor Sytske Wijnsma; Assistant Professor Jonathan Weigel; and Associate Professor Panos Patatoukas, the L.H. Penney Chair in Accounting and Distinguished Teaching Fellow.

The prize is part of Dean Harrison’s three strategic priorities for the Haas School: sustainability, entrepreneurship, and diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging (DEIJB). As the top public business school, Berkeley Haas is committed to addressing sustainability challenges by preparing our students to lead the transition to a sustainable and inclusive economy through designing and implementing new business models, policies, and solutions.

“At the Haas School of Business, we believe that the transition to a sustainable world is being led by business. It is business that is mobilizing the vast amount of capital and innovation needed to create successful environmental solutions at scale,” Harrison said. “The Haas Sustainable Business Research Prize seeks to address this challenge in translating cutting-edge academic research into action in the face of the climate crisis.”

The prize is administered by the Berkeley Haas Center for Responsible Business (CRB). The CRB connects students, businesses, and faculty to mobilize the positive potential of business to create a more responsible, resilient, and sustainable society. Building on more than two decades of research, teaching, and engaging with business, the center encourages sustainability-minded research and its application in the marketplace of commerce and ideas.

Learn more about the prize and the forthcoming 2023 call for papers here. 

Media Contact:

Emily Pelissier, Associate Director, Center for Responsible Business
[email protected]
(503) 804-6044