Blog & Opinion
9 September 2019 • Faculty of Business, Finance & Marketing
European approach to sustainability in collaboration with THUAS
Currently, there is a pending application to the EU for a major collaborative project between partner universities from Madrid (Universidad Francisco de Vitoria de Madrid – UVF), from Finland (Tampere University of Applied Sciences – TAMK), from Italy (The University of Cagliari – Unica) and The Hague University of Applied Sciences.
The application is taking a long time and the partners did not want to wait. That is why a Forum was organised on 24 and 25 June in Madrid — The International Forum on Sustainability. THUAS was represented at the Forum by Rolien Blanken (F&C), Eduardo Islas Salazar (IB), Jochem Vreeke (IB) and Egbert Willekes (IFMC). You can read more about their stories below.
The first day mainly revolved around the collaboration between the business community and the education sector. On this day, twelve companies gave presentations about how they have incorporated sustainability into their strategy and objectives. These companies included Telefonica, Fujitsu, Ferrovial and Heineken. All of these companies sent their sustainability managers and it was impressive to see how important sustainability is within the Spanish business community.
Clearly, the transition to a sustainable economy is also in full swing in Spain and companies expect graduates to be knowledgeable in this field. This is not only becoming increasingly important in the manufacturing industry, but also in the service sector. PwC also gave an extremely interesting presentation about this.
To further help us get an idea of the role of the ‘sustainable professional’, a workshop was held in the afternoon on the design thinking methodology. Lecturers, researchers and delegates from the business community were represented in each group. The Circular Business Research Group has since organised this workshop again. It was held during the Rethinking Business & Economics session on 2 July this year where insights gleaned in Madrid were shared.
21st century skills
Sustainability and education, in other words, setting to work with 21st century skills. That was also shown in the various presentations by a range of European degree programmes during the second day of the International Forum on Sustainability. For instance, the University of Milan (IULM) discussed creating an Ethical Cultural Environment for 21st century students who can create a sustainable workplace “fostering bottom-up participation”.
For Francisco de Vitoria from the University of Madrid, poverty and income inequality around the world are reasons for putting financial inclusion on the educational agenda as a part of the degree programme. The ESIC Business & Marketing School in Madrid shows that it stimulates a critical perspective in its students and in this way helps companies with their transformation to a circular business model.
Furthermore, the various degree programmes work with uniform frameworks, such as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Ellen MacArthur’s “Butterfly Model” and the World Economic Forum’s risk calculations.
Nevertheless, differences in emphasis were visible. Our team from THUAS was the only team to show it was working with Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Model. During the presentation of our minor “New Business Models in the Circular Economy” it turned out that the participants in the room were unfamiliar with Raworth’s work.
However, it is clear that sustainability is necessary in education and that there also needs to be continuous collaboration between the various parties involved. If one of the parties in the “triple helix” is missing, namely, the education sector, the business community or government, it does not work. That also became clear from the various insights we gained and which we can use for our education. This is what makes the European collaboration so good and we were honoured to represent THUAS in this European context. We are looking forward to further collaboration.
If we want to talk in technical terms, we are creating the next sustainable economy in this value-based web of students, universities of applied sciences, companies government, citizens and consumers!
Aside from the fact that it was an extremely inspiring journey in which we reinforced the firm contacts we have made during various foreign trips, to top this off IB laid solid ground for a double degree. Furthermore, we were able to make arrangements for lecturer and student exchange programmes and we also made many interesting international contacts in the field of research.
A delegation from Madrid will be visiting THUAS in September to further develop the mutual collaboration. We will also be holding a two-day international forum during that visit. If you want to join us and think and do more about these issues, please contact Theo Bosma from the F&C/FMC degree programmes.