The EFMD business magazine

The EFMD business magazine

Teaching sustainability to tomorrow’s leaders

How can we make managers globally responsible leaders attuned to the needs of sustainability? CB Bhattacharya explains how one school is trying.

The clamour for business schools to educate their graduates not only as managers but also as responsible leaders is increasing in volume. There is a cry for academics and executives to change mindsets and follow new paths that enable more balance and greater stability. We need managers who implement strategies that are not only profitable but also account for the wellbeing of the planet and its people.

The European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) in Berlin sees itself at the frontline of this transition. We have embedded, and continue to embed, tenets of sustainability and responsible leadership into various aspects of our life including teaching, research, thought leadership and, slowly but surely, lifestyle.

ESMT has identified three broad research and teaching areas to distinguish ourselves as an institution:

– European competitiveness

– management of technology

– sustainability and responsible leadership

ESMT considers sustainability and responsible leadership essential components of a 21st century business education that develops responsible and entrepreneurial leaders who think globally, act responsibly and respect the individual.

This is shown in a number of ways, including the E.ON Chair in Corporate Responsibility (currently held by the author), an MBA sustainability track, a mandatory sustainable business class in our MBA and EMBA programmes and the Sustainable Business Roundtable, which brings together practitioners and academics in a common forum to discuss strategies for increasing sustainability practices within companies.

ESMT was placed 29th worldwide and 4th in Europe in the Aspen Institute’s 2011 Beyond Grey Pinstripes ranking. We are also in the initial stages of measuring our own environmental and social footprint.

Our MBA programme offers a variety of core courses, including business ethics and business in society, that directly or indirectly address sustainability and corporate responsibility issues. More specifically, the Global Sustainable Business track offers a core course, Sustainable Business, and a set of electives (Fighting Poverty with Business, Corporate Environmental Strategy, Sustainable Supply Chain Management, Global Growth Engines and a field seminar in an emerging economy).

Informal research conducted on our student body shows that the school’s focus on sustainability is an important attraction for prospective students, irrespective of whether this is their academic and/or professional focus.

The Sustainable Business course is taught by the author in the second quarter of the year, before students choose their electives. It is designed to facilitate issue-centred learning and to use functional knowledge and expertise to help resolve major societal, environmental and economic issues.

For the full article, you can view the PDF.

Teaching sustainability to tomorrow's leaders

Professor CB Bhattacharya is Dean of International Relations and E.ON Chair in Corporate Responsibility at the ESMT European School of Management and Technology, Berlin, Germany.

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