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ISCN 2015 Dialogue 3: Corporate-University Engagement, Bernd Kasemir


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Bend Kasemir, ISCN Program Manager, moderating for André Schneider, Vice President for Resources and Infrastructures, EPFL.

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ISCN 2015 Dialogue 3: Corporate-University Engagement, Bernd Kasemir

  1. 1. ISCN – Corporate Dialog | 2015 Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne André Schneider Corporate Dialogue Workforce and Skills Assessment
  2. 2. 2ISCN – Corporate Dialog | 2015Introduction The ISCN workgroup on corporate dialogues is working on a better understanding of the sustainability-related skills required for leaders to ensure that their decisions are based on integrated and holistic thinking, and support the sustainable development of their companies. It is our hypothesis that the sustainability skills needed by sustainability professionals and technical experts are rather well supported by higher education offerings. But there seem to be less resources available to develop sustainability skills necessary for a broader group of future leaders. Given that all management decisions will have an impact on the sustainable development of any organization and our society, assessing and closing this gap is a priority to ensure that employees that will be well equipped to develop into effective leaders of tomorrow. Introduction ISCN 2015
  3. 3. 3ISCN – Corporate Dialog | 2015Two Questions Two questions to answer ISCN 2015 • What skill set do managers/leaders need to have to make sustainable and hence holistic decisions? • Where are there gaps and how can we support this skill set and fill the gaps in the context of our universities’ education programs?  This is not about a new education program but how to develop these skills in the context of existing programs and hence from the start deliver contextualized knowledge and skills.
  4. 4. 4ISCN – Corporate Dialog | 2015Sustainability Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts: • the concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and • the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs. From World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). Our common future, 1987 (Brundtland Report) Example: The tradeoffs and synergies mentioned above are highly relevant in today’s corporate environment. Companies are constantly needing to evaluate decisions against sometimes competing interests. For example, the potential conflict of the interest of the corporation and its immediate success as compared to the interests of the society as a whole and its long‐term evolution. What is Sustainability ? ISCN 2015
  5. 5. 5ISCN – Corporate Dialog | 2015Next Steps Next Steps ISCN 2015 • Defining the necessary skill set for sustainable decision‐making: • We believe that these skills will be articulated around the following four thematic pillars: 1. What is sustainability? What is systemic thinking? 2. Some sustainability literacy 3. Main issues and trends that show that we are not developing in a sustainable way 4. Personal engagement in sustainability • This will be developed and validated with businesses. Currently we are starting this with Nestlé headquarters in Switzerland, and possibly with SGS. • We have also started collaborating with the WBCSD and one first result was the introduction to the ISCN report “Developing Skills for Future Leaders. 2015 Sustainable Campus Best Practices from ISCN and GULF Schools” by Peter Bakker, the president of WBCSD.
  6. 6. 6ISCN – Corporate Dialog | 2015Next Steps Next Steps ISCN 2015 • Gap analysis and developing a list of action to facilitate the development of the skill set for sustainable decision‐making: • How these skill sets can taught and transferred, using teaching elements/sequences for existing classes, templates for Massively Open Online Courses (“MOOCs”), or, templates for interdisciplinary projects.
  7. 7. 7ISCN – Corporate Dialog | 2015First Feedback First feedback from business ISCN 2015 We have made a first inquiry in our business networks and have received the following encouraging feedback: our corporate dialogue partners overwhelmingly agree that 1. University graduates should have more comprehensive knowledge about sustainability 2. Universities should develop a minimum set of sustainability skills to integrate across their university curricula 3. Universities should assess sustainability skills of their students and adapt their classes to achieve a certain level of sustainability skills ?