Building Capacity Through Students

If there is one thing that I run into, and get frustrated by, it is the fact that many of the “solutions” to issues we face are always too big for the average person.

That, while we can all certainly recycle and buy organic clothing, the rest of it should be left to new technologies.  Technologies who will be subsidized by large organizations, developed by people smarter than I, and whose impact will mitigate the collective so that we can all keep going about our daily basis.

It is a condition that has in many ways perpetuated a tangible apathy for issues we face, and even with awareness of issues being at an all time high, many are still wondering what their place is.

… and that is why I spend a lot of time speaking with and educating students.

Students are, for the lack a better clique, the future.

They are not only the future business leaders, who will lead companies, they are also the future heads of family units, and through teaching them about the issues (and their role within those issues) we are in essence building future capacity for change.

Building a systematic approach to adddressing issues of sustainibility (exconomic, environment, and otherwise) requires awareness and leadership at every level and over the last 2 years my epxerience leads me to believe that this needs to begin with the schools.

A series of exercises mean to personalize the issues, the students were eventually lead down a path that should them their current and future reoles in adressing issues, and even as fun as these events were…they were not ones that were going to by themselves change the system in a measurable way.  However, both of those examples served as important entry points for both the students, the clubs, and the scchools, and I have come to understand that through my work at Hands On and at CEIBS.  I’ll explain.

Going back 2 years in time, my Shanghai Director for Hands On and I were planning out our programs for the upcoming year, and how we needed to find growth and stability in our volunteer pools. We had worked with students (high school and university) in the past, and were keen to develop more programs, but found the groups difficult to program because we lacked the capacity. They were eager to get involved, IN LARGE NUMBERS, but we just did not have the programs or the training platform in place to manage so over the next year we built our business case and training platform to expand into this group…. and successfully started 8 Volunteer Leadership programs last year.  Now almost 1 year into the program we are seeing 50% growth in the group, we have successfully stabilized programs, and we have developed almost 100 trained leaders who are beginning to manage their own programs.


We capture the raw passion that students have, we guided them through a series of trainings, and now they are actively engaged in their communities.

My next venture in this area was through CEIBS, and becoming the Visiting Professor of Sustainability and REsponsible Leadership for 193 MBA students.  It was, as I am coming to learn, a program that had many steps in the making. That through a few entry points like my workshops above, students put the school onto a path to where I am now teaching a require class on sustainability to a highly ranked MBA school. A program that I will be presenting to the Copenhagen Business School later in the month as part of a conference that will discuss how to reconfigure how students are taught around the world

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