Nowadays, the term sustainability comes forward more and more because our global future depends on it. Consequently, it is for businesses from utmost importance to gain a sustainable competitive advantage to outperform competitors. Universities focused on business will discuss this matter. However, not in considerable detail. It is crucial that sustainability is recognized and addressed. Hence, in my opinion, universities may devote more to sustainability.
Unquestionably, numerous universities provide studies covering sustainability. Yet, studies that are not essentially concentrated on sustainability such as business studies, should in my opinion, provide sustainability courses in depth as well. Why? To increase awareness and develop knowledge amongst the next generation regarding sustainability.
Right, first a step back. What do we mean when discussing business sustainability? Sustainability in business is often defined as a process by which firms manage their environmental, financial, and social risks, opportunities and obligations with minimal undesirable effects. Therefore, sustainable businesses ensure that future generations will have adequate resources to meet their needs, to gain a competitive advantage, and to reduce environmental damage. In this way, firms contribute to the planet whilst, most probably, increasing profits. This is a major development since you can disaggregate it into 3 principal perspectives that are key to businesses. Firstly, economic perspective. Which refers to the ability to upkeep a defined level of economic production indefinitely. Secondly environmental perspective. The environmental perspective is the most common one because almost everyone is familiar with the following: Co2 emissions, pollution from factories etc. So, it refers to the ability to maintain rates of renewable resource harvest, pollution creation and non-renewable resource reduction that can be continued indefinitely. Thirdly, social perspective. Which refers to the ability of a social system. For instance, a country or region to function at a desired level of social well-being indefinitely.
So, why is it so important for today’s educational providers to cover the meaning and consequences of sustainability? First of all, sustainability is the future; therefore, it is from utmost importance to take this matter extremely serious in universities. Today’s students are the tomorrow’s future leaders and need to be prepared as adequate as possible since we live in a continuously developing environment. Additionally, universities have the power and resources to provide students with the necessary information. Therefore, universities must modify curricula to ensure that courses contain suitable information for a world altered by climate change and countries suffering from a weak economy. Secondly, for students with an entrepreneurial mindset, sustainability could be an exceptional development which they can take advantage of. Because of sustainability, products or services can be created concentrated on sustainability. Furthermore, the corporate image and reputation of the educational provider will boost after a successful student brought out an idea based on sustainability. However, this may not be a factor for universities to devote to sustainability. Yet, the previously given factors must be important enough for universities to modify their curricula.
All in all, to overcome horrible consequences in the future in terms of sustainability, universities should prepare its students as adequate as possible. Modifying curricula is one possible way to increase and develop awareness and knowledge. However, this is surely not the only way to accomplish the goal. E.g. sustainability seminars, guest speakers or excursions. Consequently, the chances of meeting the perspectives mentioned before increase undeniably.
By Jesse Aarts, www.lsbuk.com
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Daniel & David
The London School of Business – On Sustainability