Alumni Spotlight: Thinking at Scale

Author: Rachel Novick

Leo Burke At Climate Investing

The scale of the climate crisis demands solutions that are global in scope and informed by a deep understanding of natural and human systems. Few people I know rise to that challenge as well as Leo Burke ’70, Professor Emeritus at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.

Leo recently returned from Ireland, where he convened a conference aptly titled Redesigning the World. Attendees included global thought leaders in geopolitics, international finance, policy, and sustainable development. Under the moniker of the Global Cooperative Trust, this international group has committed to pursuing climate solutions through regenerative economic frameworks, education for sustainability, and collaboration with grassroots organizations focused on large-scale mobilization.

Back at Notre Dame, Leo will be teaching an executive education mid-winter course focused on disruptive technologies with the capacity to address the climate crisis in significant ways. Despite being officially retired, he will continue to mentor MBA students and undergraduates in the Sustainability Minor and to inspire them to see themselves as part of the solution.

"As a mentor, Leo is encouraging and full of a quiet wisdom," says Mitchell Meersman '17, who is studying finance and sustainability. "He listens to proposals and ideas in a way that makes you feel he is fully engaged and the advice he offers is inspired by a wealth of experience and knowledge. He genuinely cares about the project I'm working on as well as me as a person."

“Humanity is facing this precipice where life will become untenable for large numbers of people,” Leo recently told me. “We need to move beyond doing what’s possible to doing what’s necessary to get earth systems back in balance.” With such inspiration as Leo provides, we can start to follow that guidance