The ‘Millennial’ generation believes that the future of the planet rests in their hands, according to a survey of recent master’s graduates in 40 countries.
The international survey conducted by CEMS, the Global Alliance in Management Education, of which Aalto University School of Business is an academic member, found that 80% of the recent CEMS graduates - most in their early twenties - believe the responsibility will lie with their generation to find the solution to climate change.
Of the 333 survey respondents, many of whom will go on to become business leaders and entrepreneurs, more than half (51%) were confident that humans will find a solution to the problem, while 49% were not confident, reflecting the global air of uncertainty.
‘CEMS students tend to be very driven and see the glass ‘half-full’ instead of ‘half-empty’,’says Rita Järventie-Thesleff, the CEMS Academic Director in Aalto Business School.
She praises the students for their creative thinking and entrepreneurial attitude in coming up with ideas that build on circular economy and ‘shared value’.
Commenting on the survey results, Professor Greg Whitwell, Chair of the CEMS Global Alliance and Dean of the University of Sydney Business School, said graduates clearly ‘understand that climate change is not just an environmental concern.’
‘They know that businesses and governments need to work together for the survival of the planet. They believe that their generation will be required to be the change-makers and do not take this responsibility lightly,’ Professor Whitwell said.
CEMS MIM in Aalto University
CEMS is an alliance of 32 of the world’s leading business schools, 70 corporate partners and 7 NGOs, which deliver the CEMS Master’s in International Management (MIM).
In Aalto, The CEMS MIM is included in the Master’s Programme in Global Management, and also students from other Master’s Programmes can apply to it. CEMS MIM comprises carefully selected courses, seminars and business projects, which support the growth of the Master’s level students towards responsible leadership in the future.
’Through CEMS we are dedicated to preparing future leaders who are equipped with not only the passion and knowledge needed to tackle climate change, but also the skills required to transform organisations from the inside out,’ Professor Whitwell said.
‘Across the globe we see our graduates carrying their commitment to the environment and sustainability from the classroom into the business world, as transformative leaders and entrepreneurs. It is crucial that businesses and governments act on the ambition of these young people if they hope to secure the future of the planet,’ Professor Whitwell said.
‘Who better than the future generation of leaders with their energizing can-do attitude to convert such enormous challenges into solutions?’
Commitment to climate action
In Aalto, CEMS students urge also the bigger corporations to take the environmental challenges seriously and to bring about change in their way of operating, Järventie-Thesleff says.
An example of CEMS graduates’ commitment to climate action, Plan A was found 2016 by Lubomila Jordanova, a CEMS graduate from the London School of Economics.
Plan A is a data-driven platform that uses artificial intelligence to pinpoint areas on the planet that are most vulnerable to climate change. It then connects environmental players with sources of private funding so that action can be taken.
Commenting on the survey findings, Jordanova said that, ‘the climate change crisis is the result of a history of disregard to the planet and its resources.’
‘Now our generation face nature's response to this behaviour and can only address the crisis effectively through a collaborative approach, which gets businesses, individuals, scientists, NGOs and governments working together,’ Jordanova said.
Tackling climate change through global business education
The CEMS Business and the Environment faculty group, open to all member schools, was founded in the mid-90s with the aim of researching and teaching the managerial implications of the relationship between business and the natural environment.
Members are grounded in a broad variety of disciplinary fields (including management and economics, chemistry, biology, mathematics), which has allowed them to develop and implement new way to introduce environmental issues into mainstream business education.
Out of this faculty group has emerged innovative initiatives such as the Model UNFCCC simulation, the culmination of a semester long programme on climate policy which takes place at CEMS schools across Europe. Now in its 11th year, 180 MIM from 30 nationalities came together in Cologne in May for the 2019 simulation.
During the event students are assigned roles which mirror those participating in the actual negotiations and work to obtain a consensus around ambitious strategies to implement the global objective of maintaining climate change below 2 degrees.
Professor of Practice
CEMS Academic Director, D.Sc. (Econ.)
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