A love of travel grew into a quest to learn the language of nature for environmental scientist Michael Goodsite ’08, Ph.D., director of a newly funded center that helps Nordic businesses and other organizations adapt to climate change.
“The evidence is talking to us,” Goodsite said. “Nature is talking to us. Scientists like myself are trying to interpret the language so we can objectively present to everybody what it is saying.”
The quest for knowledge has taken Goodsite from Arizona to the Arctic and many places in between. He earned an Executive MBA in Thunderbird’s European program in 2008 and then put his business skills to work with the formation of the Nordic Centre of Excellence-Nordic Strategic Adaption Research (NORD-STAR).
The center links natural scientists, political scientists, economists, management educators and business professionals in a virtual network that covers Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
NordForsk, a public organization that supports Nordic initiatives, announced a five-year $5.2 million grant on Oct. 18, 2010, to fund the center. Goodsite will lead the center at the National Environmental Research Institute at Aarhus University in Denmark, where he is a professor of atmospheric chemistry, climate change and global processes.
Thunderbird Professors Mary Teagarden, Ph.D., and Andreas Schotter, Ph.D., will collaborate with Goodsite at the center, providing their expertise in global business strategy. Through the research partnership, Goodsite will function as a Thunderbird visiting professor.
“Climate change is a global science,” Goodsite said. “Where there is global science, there is global business. This interaction is one of the reasons I have been so interested and pleased to come back to Thunderbird.”
While many climate change scientists see business as part of the global warming problem, Goodsite takes the opposite view. He said business leaders and entrepreneurs looking for competitive advantages are driving sustainable innovation.
“MBAs will figure out how to operationalize and finance the changes needed to build global prosperity in a world threated by climate change,” he said. “If it makes sense and they can do it, they will. And if that helps the environment, it’s a great day for all of us.”
Goodsite grew up in Tucson, Arizona, in a family of medical professionals. Each month the family traveled to a clinic in Mexico, where Goodsite’s parents volunteered their services.
The trips taught Goodsite to appreciate civic service and opened his mind to the world beyond the United States.
He received a Rotary International Scholarship to study math and science in Japan at age 15. When he returned home, he developed a friendship with an exchange student from Denmark who introduced him to the region and later became his wife.
Goodsite also traveled around the world as a company commander with the U.S. Army. Along the way, he developed an interest in climate change.
“I could see that not only were humans impacting the climate and environment, but the climate and environment were impacting us,” he said.
Goodsite earned a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from the University of Arizona in 1994, a Master of Science in environmental engineering from the University of Southern Denmark in 2000, and Ph.D. in atmospheric chemistry from the University of Copenhagen in 2003.
His doctoral research took him to the Arctic region, where he studied the exchange of mercury between the atmosphere and ice.
Galaxy of STARs
Despite the growing list of credentials, Goodsite noticed a gap when he reached out to European businesses to discuss climate change strategy and adaptation. He enrolled in Thunderbird’s Executive MBA-Europe program to bridge this gap.
“In trying to deal with global businesses in Europe and express my ideas, I discovered that I lacked the vocabulary of global business,” he said. “Now I can knock on doors with my Thunderbird MBA and have instant credibility.”
Goodsite said NORD-STAR incorporates business expertise in an effort to form a “knowledge triangle” of research, education and innovation. The goal is to develop practical, accessible and user-friendly tools that enhance the capacity of planners, civil servants and business leaders to adapt to climate change.
Goodsite said the center reaches out to partners across the region who share this goal.
“The regional approach is important because the climate does not recognize national boundaries,” he said. “The climate does not recognize municipal boundaries.”
As NORD-STAR grows and demonstrates success, Goodsite said he envisions similar centers opening in other regions. “We need a galaxy of STARs,” he said.
|Passionate about Objectivity: Michael Goodsite describes his motivation as a climate change scientist.||Rising NORD-STAR: Michael Goodsite describes the vision of his center, which addresses climate change issues in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.|
|Climate Change Business Solutions: Michael Goodsite sees business as a source of innovation.||Learning to Talk about Climate Change: Michael Goodsite says climate change scientists need help talking to laymen.|