2014 Master Class

Our title tells us in four short words what this course is all about.

In this seminar we shall explore together these three intimately related  areas of human activity which for most people are consigned to different parts of the brain, with few overlaps or synapses to tie them together. And yet the move to sustainable development and sustainable lives depends quite precisely on our ability to see and understand their many links, overlaps and synergies.

Our assumption, since these are advanced MBA students, is that they will be well prepared as far as knowledge of business, management and finance are concerned. So our task will be to see how we can help the students tie in their technical competences in possibly creative ways into the new world of policy and practice, which is defined by the phrase “sustainable development” – and which in turn is increasingly the only game in town as the 21st century rolls on.

The first step will be to ensure that we all come to a pretty good shared idea of what this usually very foggy concept of “sustainable development” is all about. To do this, we will review and brainstorm some of the main high points, publications and defining events of the last half century. And then once we start to have at least the beginning of an understanding of what this is all about in terms of trends, thresholds, problems, constraints, but also eventually opportunities, we can then together explore how this new social and economic space can provide a new and possibly rich terrain for ideas and eventually products, services and profit.

The goal is to leave each of the participants with a richer, more complete understanding of this new space in which entrepreneurship and all that lies behind the concept of sustainability need to find new and better ways to work together. It’s a complex , chaotic and very tricky interface which needs to be mastered. The seminar will look into all this through a series of collaborative projects, presentations, and group discussions, reinforced by a set of interactive tools linking the classroom and the students to the huge knowledge and communications base that is the internet. In this context the teacher serves as much as an accompanying guide and coach as a source of received wisdom. We are talking about a very different world than the one that most of us still have firmly lodged in our minds.

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