Engaging Students to Adopt Sustainability

Following my posts on the role of business schools as an agent, medium, for sustainability, I felt it was necessary to address the fact that aside from the intentions of the school, the dean, or the professors, the students themselves must be engaged to adopt in a manner that provides the best chances for success.

An issue I addressed at a PRME conference in Copenhagen:

For us, the key to successfully engaging the students and having the best chances for long term indoctrination as “responsible” leaders, three things must occur:

1) The issues must be tangible and presented in a tangible way so as to ensure the highest level of student interest in issues.
2) Students must have some flexibility to focus on issues that are most tangible to them as a starting point.  Beyond maintaining a general sense of interest, the more than students are able to leverage their previous work experience as well as match efforts to their future work trajectory, the more likely they are to remain deeply engaged
3) Students need to be able to convert their energy from potential to kinetic.  Knowing that their work can lead to a solution, on whatever level, motivates them to learn more and work harder. Which ultimately provides the best foundation for long term buy-in and practice of responsible practices

these are the fundamentals, but as I continue to find out every year in the classroom and as a project manger, the devil is in the details.  Key to succeeding are effective discussion in the classroom, having interesting/ engaging/ meaningful projects, and managing a team process that the students can enjoy.

It has to be more than about “impact”.  It also has to be about experience.

Without either, and the students will be lost and left to question the value of their experience, and thus the importance of sustainability.


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