When it comes to preparing students for the “real world,” the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business believes case study method teaching is most beneficial. Through this approach, students discuss actual business problems and potential solutions, strengthening communication and leadership skills by learning to make difficult decisions with limited information.

Since 2012, The Coca-Cola Company and WWF have been working with Darden School of Business Professor Richard Brownlee on a case study highlighting their partnership as a successful model of corporate-NGO collaboration in addressing natural resource challenges. The case study, “World Wildlife Fund and The Coca-Cola Company: A Global Partnership for Freshwater Conservation,” was finalized in September 2014, and on Nov. 18, 2014 will be incorporated into Darden’s The Global Economics of Water course, taught by Associate Professor Peter Debaere.

“Developing a case study with such a well-respected business school has been an honor and a hopeful experience,” said Greg Koch, director of global water stewardship, The Coca-Cola Company. “Though our many years of collaboration with WWF, we believe we have built a partnership that is a model for corporate-NGO collaboration. We hope this model will reach and inform current and future business managers, as well as other members of the business community. Only through cross-sector partnerships will we truly make a positive impact on global challenges we together face.”

UVA Darden School of Business

The case study, which was recently highlighted in The Washington Post’s “Case in Point,” frames the early stages of the Coca-Cola and WWF partnership, public reaction to the partnership, and results achieved, then questions how the partners should frame their partnership renewal through 2020 to achieve even more. Should there be an overarching theme? What should the scope and goals be? Should Coca-Cola and WWF continue as sole partners or invite others to join? These and many other questions will be pondered and deliberated by the students.

Darden School of Business plans to extend the case study’s reach beyond its students to other business schools, spreading the message of positive results that can be realized through corporate-NGO partnerships. Coca-Cola and WWF continue to share partnership lessons learned and provide guidance on building successful partnerships through the partnership’s freshwater conservation web site, where students could sneak a peek to determine how the case study questions were ultimately answered.