Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment

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Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment
Smith School logo
Smith School logo
Formation 2008
Founder Sir Martin and Lady Smith
Purpose Education and Research
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
Prof Gordon L. Clark
Parent organization
University of Oxford

The Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment (also known as the Smith School) is an interdisciplinary hub of the University of Oxford directed by Professor Gordon L. Clark, FBA that focuses upon teaching, research, and engagement with businesses & enterprise and long-term environmental sustainability. It works with social enterprises, corporations, and governments; it seeks to encourage innovative solutions to the apparent challenges facing humanity over the coming decades. Its strengths lie in environmental economics and policy, enterprise management, and financial markets and investment.

The Smith School was founded through a benefaction from the Smith Family Educational Foundation and officially opened in 2008. From 2008 to 2012 Professor Sir David King[disambiguation needed] served as the founding director of the Smith School.


To realise its objectives, the Smith School is organised into core programmes, research themes, and related initiatives that together are expressed through research, teaching, and engagement.

The Core Programmes at the Smith School are:

Economic policy and markets — concerned with the design and implementation of economic policy initiatives that affect or directly impinge upon enterprise and the environment. Areas of interest include the use of economic instruments to promote environmental quality, the role of markets in pricing externalities, and the cost effectiveness and impact of regulation designed to facilitate enterprise environmental performance.

Enterprise management and strategy— concerned with how enterprises (for profit and not-for-profit) manage themselves both with respect to their environmental footprints and liabilities and with respect to their relationships with shareholders and stakeholders with an interest in the nexus between enterprise and the environment. Areas of interest include supply-chain management, incentives systems, long-term investment in eco-efficiency, and the management of enterprise-based environmental risks.

Financial markets and investment — concerned with how financial institutions assess and value the environmental strategies of enterprises, translating short-term investment opportunities into a long-term commitment to sustainable investment. Areas of interest include the disclosure and valuation of enterprise environmental footprints, the pricing of environmental shocks, and the role of financial institutions in promoting a long-term perspective on enterprise-wide environmental performance.

The Research Themes at the Smith School include:

Natural capital — concerned with the use of resources like water, land, and biodiversity by enterprises in the production and distribution of commodities, recognising that the quality and quantity of natural capital are likely to be significantly affected by climate change, population growth, and economic development. Areas of interest include access to water, the pricing of natural capital, the eco-efficiency of production, and the accounting and management of the environmental footprints of major enterprises on a global basis.

Long-term investment — concerned with the structure and performance of financial institutions and markets as regards sustainable economic growth and development, recognising that innovation requires patient capital with a global reach consistent with the emerging realities of 21st century development. Areas of interest include the theory and practice of long-term investing, the financing of development consistent with sustainability, and the tension between small-scale and large-scale financing of infrastructure in the face of population growth and technological change.

Climate change and adaptation — making the link with recent developments in the scientific understanding of the causes and consequences of climate change for human activity, recognising that the consequences of climate change are both global and local. Areas of interest include the pricing of externalities, the response of insurance institutions and markets, and the role that market ‘solutions’ may pay in promoting adaptation.

Executive Education and Thought-Leadership[edit]

Complementing the overlapping core programmes and research themes, are two initiatives.

One is in the area of Executive Education, targeting the global marketplace at the intersection between the core programmes and research themes. Here, the Smith School seeks collaborative relationships with external advisory groups, agencies, consulting companies, enterprises, industry groups, and public and private institutions so as to reach constituents who by reason of their roles and responsibilities have a significant stake in promoting best-practice in fields like environmental management and policy.

The second initiative is in the area of thought-leadership. The goal is to bring to Oxford academics, policymakers, investors, representatives of enterprise, NGOs, etc. to tackle these issues in an informed and consultative manner so as to share insights about where interests overlap, conflict, and deserve further research. The Visiting Fellows Programme brings to Oxford some of the most thoughtful leaders and practitioners in enterprise and the environment informing research, inspiring students, and contributing to the community of ideas so necessary for genuine innovation.