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Save the world

Business school students have always wanted to make their mark on the world, but increasingly they are also concerned about their environmental impact on the planet.

A growing number of business schools are now teaming up with environmental organisations to create programmes addressing sustainable development.

In January 2011, Rotterdam School of Management will launch a specialised executive MBA in water management. Developed in partnership with the Wetsus Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Water Technology, it will focus on future strategies of water management.

Hetty Brand-Boswijk, director of external relations at the school, says it hopes to ensure that “all students, from cradle to grave, understand their business footprint on the world”.

Next September, the University of Exeter Business School in the UK will launch the One Planet MBA in partnership with WWF, the global conservation organisation. The school, which says we are consuming 50 per cent more than the planet can sustain, hopes to attract students who want to build a more equitable society and aims to create environmentally aware business leaders.

Meanwhile, Ashridge Business School in Hertfordshire has been running an MSc in sustainability and responsibility since 2009. The programme is aimed at students who feel they should be doing something beyond making a profit and that ethical practice should be a primary goal.

The art of management

Thinking “outside the box” has long been a mantra for managers eager to make their mark on the world. One champion of such thinking is

he Palace of Versailles, among others. Now it has signed a three-year partnership with the Musée Guimet, a museum of Asian art.

The collaboration will allow HEC’s MSc and MBA students to acquire a wider cultural understanding of the arts and traditions of Asia. Curators will give seminars and classes offering students a deeper insight into the region. There will also be group work led by museum experts, taking an in-depth look at national exhibitions.

Bernard Ramanantsoa, dean of HEC, says an appreciation of art is important. As well as providing an in-depth understanding of another culture, he says, it helps students view their decisions in a wider context and gives them a more far-sighted approach.

The dean adds it also improves students’ “ability to see things, which is another way to develop their soft skills”.

Lead us not into temptation

One European business school is making every effort to look after students’ hearts as well as their heads. Iese Business School in Barcelona now has a colour-coded menu in its restaurant to alert diners to the calories in the food they eat.

“Green” dishes are the healthiest and those coded “yellow” are so-so, but beware the “red” dishes – these guilty pleasures pack more than 500 calories apiece. So although the duck confit and chocolate pie look tasty on paper, students might do better sticking to the salad. Iese says 42 per cent of all its produce is locally sourced.

France plans ahead

As UK business schools wail and wring their hands over proposed government funding cuts, they might want to consider what is happening in France.

There, President Nicolas Sarkozy has raised €7.7bn ($10.4bn) through sales of government shares in EDF, the energy group, and earmarked it to fund research and education in a project known as “investissements d’avenir”, or “investments of the future”. The aim is to invest in between five and 10 “pôles”, or clusters, of excellence, which will become world-class centres of research, teaching and corporate investment.

The move has forced business schools, engineering schools and public universities to cast aside decades – even centuries – of animosity to work together on projects that will fuel France’s economic growth for the next 20-30 years. The pôles have to put forward their proposals by December 17, when they will be judged by a panel of international experts. Results are expected to be announced by next summer.

The frontrunners to receive a share of the cash are two pôles in the east of France – one in Grenoble, where there is a specialism in nuclear medicine, and the other in Lyon. EM Lyon, one of the participants in the latter, is the entrepreneurship specialist among French business schools.

But the hot money to scoop the lion’s share of the prize is on the “ParisTech” pôle. The 12 institutions there include the École des Ponts ParisTech, École Polytechnique and HEC Paris.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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