Mexico City 2017
Ten students. Eight nationalities. One team with a vision: to understand sustainability in business and drive change in the future. As ambassadors of the Lancaster University, the group of selected students attended the annual council member meeting of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development in Mexico City in October 2017.
For the first time, the field trip to the conference was included in the taught module “OWT.232 Management and Sustainability WBCSD Bootcamp”. Module convenor Dr Alison Stowell said "We are incredibly privileged to be able to offer these opportunities to our students as they are truly life changing. Through the collective support and collaboration within our Research Centre, Academic and Administrative staff, such as Careers and the Student Union we have been able to design something innovative and unique. Globally we are the only University to send students on a field trip to the WBCSD meetings."
The module connects theory with immediate practice and gives students invaluable employability skills. The ten students, who were chosen in a highly competitive application process, participated in a one-week bootcamp before heading over to the conference. They discussed academical theories, analysed current environmental problems, realised limitations, the involvement of stakeholder interests and ethical questions. Besides the deep involvement in sustainable topics they received employability workshops from the LU Careers team – led by Nicky Allan, Jo Hobbs and Matthew Howard - and did a team building exercise with Darren Axe from Green Lancaster to experience a local sustainability approach.
The multicultural team travelled to Mexico City from the 14th – 21st of October to be part of the conference themed ‘Roadmaps for impacts in today’s reality’. In collaboration with eight Mexican students from ‘EGADE Business School Technológicio de Monterrey’ they worked as session hosts, supported the organisation team and got actively involved in workshops and events. Topics included Redefining Values, Food and Land-use, Cities and Mobility, Sustainable Lifestyles, Climate and Energy and the Circular Economy. The students networked with representatives of world-leading businesses, the United Nations and non-profit organisations. 68 council members, 90 senior executives and 600 delegates were present, discussing the future of a sustainable economy, among them dignitaries such as the former president of Mexicom Mr Felipe Calderon Hinojosa. The students networked with Deputy Dean of Yale University David Bach and took part in the WBCSD Leadership Program’s Degree Ceremony, where they received participation certificates.
Michal Trela said: “Personally, the Experience that stole my heart happened on the third day of the WBCSD Council Meeting. After three intensive days of acquiring enormous amount of material, we had the chance to attend a graduation ceremony that was aimed at the Leadership Programme graduates and us. The thing that made it so special for me was the directness in the speeches and this was inspiring. In my honest opinion such moments are crucial for life and can act as guidance and a huge dose of motivation and the willingness to help the world and the people living here”
Tor-Elesh Albrightsen said: “The level of open-mindedness inspired by the WBCSD is the key for perfect collaboration and inclusion of existing and new partnering organisation to help further achieve sustainable goals, and is something we the students strive to achieve.”
Professor Rodney Irwin and Professor Gail Whiteman arranged an excursion to CEDER in Piedra Grande. The group visited a sustainable village designed to work in full unity with nature and without any impact. The students stepped into the shoes of the CEDER people and had an outdoor day in action helping to build soil walls and plant vegetables.
Nina Marleen Osterod said: “Being part of this incredible challenge gave me so much inspiration, drive and meaning for my studies. My personal highlight was to get in touch with the natives from the CEDER-village and finding different backgrounds united in a common wish for the future: Sustainability”
After a week full of overwhelming impressions, networking, and new insights the students also had the chance to explore their destination. The group went on a cultural excursion to Teotihuacán to climb the impressing Sun and Moon Pyramids, that are part of the UNESCO world heritage site. They learnt about the Aztec and Mayan Cultures and enjoyed the local cuisine.
Professor Gail Whiteman, both in her role as Director of the Pentland Centre and Professor-in-Residence at the WBCSD, and the support of OWT, LUMS and LU made this life-changing experience possible. She said: “I am proud of the strong performance and professionalism our students bring to the WBCSD meetings. It is great to have their energy and enthusiasm at these events.”
The students who attended were Tor-Elesh Albrigsten, Nevena Stoyanova, Michal Trela, Aleksandra Reinert, Daniela Solis, Alexandra Ursu, Medeea Fercu, Davide Baino, Nina Marleen Osterod and Tom Vaughan.
You can read more about the students' experiences on their blogs and see a video about their experiences below.