Welcome to the December edition of our newsletter! For the last time this year, we take a look at what happened in the preceding months in our community. We also inform you about upcoming opportunities that you can already mark in your 2020 calendar.
December at oikos is a month of bittersweet farewells and new beginnings. We already said goodbye to the oikos Board 2018/2019 and welcomed seven astonishing members to the Board 2019/2020. You can read their stories below.
We are grateful to the whole oikos community – our members, alumni, partners, and supporters – for their astounding commitment, ingenious ideas, and continuous help throughout the past year.
You are doing your handover? You are preparing your chapter activities for the upcoming year in this uncertain environment?
In its 1st hour, May’s Community hours will focus on exchanging about organizing online events and working in virtual teams! Come, share & learn from each other!
In the second hour you can:
keep discussing this topic
exchange/ask for support regarding any other matter you would need from the community and/or oikos International team
introduce your new board to oikos International community!
Have you ever wondered what the oikos International work is all about?
Have you ever wanted to influence what we do?
Do you want to be a part of a diverse group at the international level?
And, above all, do you want to be the change?
Applications for the Working Groups are open indefinitely.
What are the Working Groups?
Working Groups are highly autonomous and innovative teams composed of oikos members, alumni and supporters. They develop entrepreneurial approaches to organize the day-to-day operations of oikos.
Working Groups are facilitated by the International Vice-Presidents.
An example of a Working Group is that of Chapter Matters, currently active. Their objective is to ensure regular exchanges between chapters and members regarding chapter matters, project cooperation, oikos international updates and international/regional sustainability topics, with a focus on building relationships between individuals and strengthening the oikos network on all levels. There will be up to 9 facilitators (1 per region) and thematic facilitators.
What can you do there?
We’re currently looking for people to help us in the following Working Group topics:
Communication and Marketing
Interested? This is your chance! The oikos Working Groups are looking for YOU. Come and be a part of the team!
oikos Talk: Sustainable mobile banking with Tomorrow
How sustainable is your bank? Where does your bank invest your money? What impact does your bank have on society and the environment? 🤔🤔
Did you know that most traditional banks give away credits to those companies offering the highest return within a short period of time? That are often companies, which have vastly negative environmental and social impact. Oil or even weapon industries are often supported by big banks 🏦 In other words: Part of the money on your bank account is probably financing the construction of a new coal plant across the border. ⚠
The sustainable finance concept addresses these issues and banks who have implemented such a concept only invest money in companies that create an overall positive impact on the environment and society. ✅🌿
👉 One of these alternative banking platforms is Tomorrow the world’s first sustainable banking platform that combines mobile baking with sustainable finance.
👉In our oikos Talk, Kaspar Wehrhahn, Business Developer at Tomorrow, will and introduce you (via Skype) to the concept and app of Tomorrow. After the talk, oikos Graz invites you to join them for a short workshop and have interesting talks.
FutureLab 2019: Building partnerships for a sustainable future
Commitments to halt climate change abound in politics, academia, business, and civil society. To bring forth genuine change and yield impactful results, however, lasting multi-stakeholder dialogues and new synergies across these different spheres are instrumental. So, in 2019, we decided to dedicate the oikos FutureLab, our annual international conference, to the topic of partnerships and focus on the key message of #ActingTogetherforSustainability.
The FutureLab conference brought together over 90 students, professors, entrepreneurs, and sustainability thought leaders in Geneva, Switzerland, on 1 and 2 November 2019. The first day of the FutureLab 2019 revolved around the topic of ‘partnerships for a sustainable world’, while the second day shifted attention towards ‘partnerships for changing economics and management education’. Through a mix of keynote talks, workshops, and panel discussions, the participants representing over 20 nationalities, examined sustainability challenges and opportunities, shared their innovative solutions, and drew blueprints for collective action.
Katherine Milligan, the Head of Gender and Diversity at Bamboo Capital Partners, opened the conference with her keynote speech. Katherine spoke about the importance of self-inquiry and shared stories of her own self-inquiry journey as well as the experiences of other social change leaders. “Self-inquiry”, Katherine explained, “is a process of self-examination and reflection undertaken with an explicit goal of increasing self-awareness, reconnecting with purpose and joy, healing from past trauma, and shifting towards healthier patterns of behavior, especially in regard to your inner-personal relationship.” She emphasized how anger and jealousy undermine modern partnerships and how overcoming these flaws through self-inquiry can create stronger bonds and networks for change. “Useful skills that leaders cultivate through the self-inquiry practice include deep listening, patience, compassion, clarity, and a systems view of how various issues, people, and partners affect each other.” – Katherine said.
Universities worldwide pride themselves in educating future change agents and opinion-makers, yet practices like self-inquiry, that can help young people become better, healthier, and more sustainable leaders, is absent in formal curricula. As Ivo Master, CEO of the Academy of Business in Society, noted the current model of universities was thought out even before the first industrial revolution. “The only way for universities to change is through partnerships. They will never do it from the insider. Impossible.” – Ivo said. For him, the lack of change in higher education institutions stems from their market-oriented approaches. The change, therefore, is only possible through student action and by bringing forth the students’ vision for what kind of life they want to lead and what kind of skills they need to acquire to fulfill their ideal. “To bring change”, Ivo argued, “students need to influence not only universities but stakeholders of universities – employers, governments, cities – as well.”
A number of parallel workshops at the FutureLab explored specific strategies, actions, and tools necessary for engaging different stakeholders and making progress towards a more just and sustainable world. With Fabienne Lang of Climate-KIC, the participants gained insights on how to organize Climathon, a Hackathon that connects government and citizens with an aim to design solutions to different climate problems in urban areas. Giuseppe Ugazio and Thomas Maillart of the University of Geneva, teamed up with the participants to explore what the syllabus of a university course on designing a hackathon could look like.
The participants also learned about the importance of embracing diverse solutions in the fight against climate change in the Climate Dialogue workshop led by Elise Buckle of SDG Lab Geneva. Michel de Kemmeter, CEO of Wise Holding, shared a powerful lesson about building lasting, strong, and resilient partnerships. “Future values will focus more on humanity and partnerships need to be meaningful” – said Michel. “Keep your contacts agile. Be open. Let some stakeholders leave and allow others to join. Talk about your project with everybody.” – he advised.
The participants transformed their crazy business ideas into business plans with Christian Bärtsch, oikos alumnus and CEO of Essento, a start-up that provides a sustainable source of animal protein in the form of insects. They also explored what sustainable development leadership entails with Suzanne Feinmann of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, and looked into partnership opportunities between local oikos chapters and Tomorrow, a sustainable bank account for smartphones, with Kaspar Wehrhahn.
A workshop on Positive Impact Rating for Business Schools explored the importance of creating a new ranking model to influence university culture and behavior and shift their focus from being the best in the world to being the best for the world. The participants learned about the new PIR ranking system and gained knowledge on how to evaluate their own universities or business schools with the PIR criteria. With Simon Zysset and Valerian Stadler of WWF Switzerland, the participants explored the role of education in systemic change and examined WWF Switzerland’s efforts in curriculum transformation.
“Curriculum Reform NOW”, a workshop, designed by Lenka Kepkova, oikos Curriculum Strategy Manager and J.Christopher Proctor, our Curriculum Research Manager, discussed the main building blocks on which economics and management education for the 21st century could be built on. The participants reflected on the key principles for a new economy and applied them to concrete sustainability challenges. They also developed strategies for shaping the curriculum at their universities.
Our members shared their critical views and expressed their own opinion on the myriad of topics raised at the conference. They also showcased their own projects at the FutureLab Impact Fair and took a chance to network and build new connections with our speakers and fellow students from across the world.
The FutureLab 2019 was a reminder that seeking powerful solutions and acting together is the only way forward to create a more sustainable and resilient world. In the words of Henry Ford “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
oikos Cologne Alumni Meeting 2019: Bringing the past and present together
In September 2019, oikos Cologne hosted its first Alumni Meeting in twenty years of oikos Cologne history. Today, they share how they achieved the milestone and what bringing together the past and present oikos generations can teach us all.
We were lucky that the idea of the meeting was suggested by Kerstin Hötte, former oikos Cologne member, who already had some alumni’s contact details. Her proposal excited us. We were eager to learn who our predecessors were and what was their life after graduation. And it was nice that she was putting effort into the organization and communication so that we mainly had to take care of the logistics.
We started organizing the meeting about two months before the target date. We agreed on program design and then contacted as many alumni as we could. Finally, we drew alumni that were active in our chapter five and even 10 years ago. On a Saturday afternoon, we met at our University to exchange our experiences as active oikos members and alumni that are already working in science, politics or business and economics. 15 alumni and 5 active members participated in the meeting that took place during the semester holidays.
The program was divided into three main parts by some coffee and snack breaks for casual talks. After a welcome and introduction round, Kerstin and Matthias, two alumni shared their current research topics on the green transformation and an empirical approach to consumption norms in social networks which we then discussed with the attendees. Afterward, we continued with career talks. For this part, some alumni volunteered to answer any questions on their careers both in academia and beyond and gave us some useful tips for the future. Finally, we as active members of oikos Cologne presented our current projects and reported about the recent challenges and opportunities. This was followed by a stimulating discussion on how to run a student organization and how to be a volunteer. Many alumni said that they faced similar obstacles during their active time as we do now, like difficulties in handover processes, clear organizational structures or publicity, so we also received some useful advice. Two of the alumni as of last month joined the advisory board so that active members can now build on that knowledge if necessary.
The meeting ended with a shared dinner and many private follow-up discussions and interesting talks. We created a LinkedIn group for all oikos Cologne alumni and aim at staying in contact in the future. We want to host another alumni meeting in about two years from now.
oikos Stories: Insights from one board to the next
As one year closes, another opens. As our 2018/19 board says their goodbyes, our 2019/20 board says hello, both offering us some insight into oikos International – where it was, where it is going, what could be improved, and so much more.
Read as we ask these members important questions, discovering more about oikos International.
What should/could oikos International do better?
Comments from our past board
One common theme presented by the past board was oikos International’s communications. For instance, outreach to chapters and new partners could be improved as well as being active in sharing our library of information and resources to the community served and beyond. Another topic mentioned was that oikos International should have better communication with the community about what oikos International is doing as well as involving the community more in the ideation processes of what programs could and should look like.
It was also commented on how the international team could do better in connecting oikees with each other, and within programs in the long term. The hope here would be to keep energy and engagement levels high after international meetings.
Continuing with being ‘connected,’ improving the possibilities in different governing structures such as working groups was also mentioned. In turn, this would make oikos International more inclusive, creating a highly “member-driven” organization.
Engaging our Alumni is another area noted by the past board. Specifically, more could be done regarding projects. Communication about these initiatives would be done through the web-page platform built last year.
Comments from our current board
With a different, fresher perspective, the new international board shares their sentiments on what could be improved, some of which mirror the closing board’s.
On view was that oikos international, in general, can do better in internal and external communication. This would mean better collaboration, knowledge transfer, and support within the international team and also the community, creating synergies between each other where all groups would profit from all the knowledge and projects available in the #oikosworld.
Continuing on this point of knowledge sharing, the community’s strengths could be better used to support one another. How oikos international improve this? Communication! Especially in the domain of internal communication.
Another point, not touched on by either past or present board members, is recognition. One board member points out that we have an amazing community, talented, passionate, with students who are regularly contributing to their communities, educating those around them, and encouraging them to do even more. They need more recognition!
“Eager individuals ready to help oikos international”
“I hope that the hard work of the international team helps to further convince other initiatives to join this amazing network of sustainability-driven people and to secure further funding.”
Luisa Marie Putz
“oikos international teamwill become more socially sustainable in the way people work with a better work-life balance.“
“I hope that with the hard work of last year’s international team we are able to strengthen the community, to form a better unit with a common mission and vision and to work together on our sustainability projects.”
“The world is changing. The time is ripe for a paradigm shift in the economic and economics sphere.”
“With better IT infrastructure, I sincerely hope oikos will be stronger in communication, both internally and externally. We need more experts and tips to help us on this, feel free to join our working groups, dear reader!”
“I hope that oikos international continues to make great progress, internally and externally. I hope for a suitable candidate for presidency 2021-2022 is elected to lead the organization further and that the chapters become even stronger in their projects and impact.”
“I hope that with the new structure we will strengthen the community and with a strong community, we can extend the impact.”
“More connection. Between chapters, teams, and individuals. And more courage to go out there and change the systems we live in.”
“ I want our community to continue to grow and develop so well. That is why I would like to be involved in this organization and provide help wherever it is needed.”
What are you the proudest of with regards to your work with oikos International or what is your favorite memory/story?
Our previous board dealt with many trials and tributes, overcoming some of the most intense issues no not-for-profit would wish to face, their funding sourced closing down. While this was an intense period, the team collectively and individually achieved so much, developing great bonds between one another. Some members of the former board took the time to share these insights with you.
Benoit Pitsaer. I’m proud to have initiated a ‘clear location’ for Alumni to be updated when they have queries, and to have set as a principle that ‘oikos supports any alumni initiative that strengthens our mission.’
Eva Spate. I am proud that we as a team have managed the transition of having two entities (oikos Foundation and oikos International) become one oikos, a truly student-led organization. We established a good organizational structure for future boards to work with.
Jakob Eberhagen. I am proud of having been an active part of this breathtakingly capable and unique team, which managed to improve oikos on innumerable fronts.
Sarah Martin. I’m proud of many things which I and we as a team achieved together. Before programs were part of the oikos Foundation. With its closure, the programs were incorporated into oikos international. Therefore, among other things, I created an overview of the different programs and started some structure for a one-pager for each program.
Alexis Troup. I am proudest of my perseverance and the work I did on the website and the website change-over, branding guidelines, and giving a basis to the Marketing domain as there was not much available or much of it was dated.
What are your words of advice to the new board members?
As a new board member of oikos international, the position can be not only scary but also difficult to navigate. To help, some members of our experienced board offers a few words of advice. Take ahead board of 2019/2020!
Eva Spate. Enjoy your time and learn a lot. Take your role seriously – you have been elected and trusted by the oikos community. Communicate well, within your team and to the community. Listen to each other and respect each others personal space and well being.
Jakob Eberhagen. Don’t hesitate to take some time off if you feel the need to do so. Everything comes second to your personal well-being. And enjoy this unique experience. Every second of it.
Alexis Troup. The people you are surrounded with in oikos are your greatest allies, they will get you through so much, so don’t be afraid to learn from them and lean on them in the good and bad times.
Sarah Martin. Be open, be honest, be respectful, be creative, be communicative, be realistic, be a sustainable leader 😉 and have fun! Tasks, decisions, etc. become easier and half as frightening but manageable instead if you work together.
You’ve now seen and heard so much from the old board, but what about our new leaders? Who are they, what are they planning to do during their term, and what makes them EXCITED to work with oikos International? Some of our new Vice-Presidents share their thoughts.
I think my intrinsic motivation, my strong sense of responsibility and reliability are very helpful to the board. Moreover, I am happy to support others when help is needed and I am honest to the group and myself when I need this support from others.
Since I am VP of Program Development, I want oikos to focus on impactful and far-reaching projects. We should not spend too many resources on programs that in the end do not support our vision of a sustainable world and sustainable economics and management education.
I am really excited to work with the whole international team and to be the interface between the international work and the oikos community. As the VP of Program Development, I am eager to get to know many different partners and to gain insights into various projects, offering a diverse approach to fulfill our oikos mission.
Luisa Marie Putz
I am a really motivated person, always eager to help and never stop until the work is done. I am also a really structured person. Moreover, I think the team climate is always important. I contribute to this matter by always being up for a joke or a chit-chat.
As a VP for Strategy and IT exciting times are going to come for oikos international. I would like to improve the IT structure so that internal and external communication can be simplified. Further, setting up a strategy for the upcoming years will be key to ensure the competitiveness of oikos international and secure its existence so that it can flourish further.
I am really keen on diving into the world of strategy and IT. Learning how IT processes can be simplified and automatized so that the board can focus on the important tasks and not having to do everything manually is a really important topic. Setting the strategy for the upcoming years is also a new challenge, which I am really excited about. Working with so many diverse people of different nationalities and backgrounds brings me lots of joy.
My openness to ask, share and be there for others making communication easier. I am always ready to make constructive observations and contribute to the team. My dedication comes from my passion.
Given that I am VP for the alumni domain, the goal is to engage the Alumni network in the community so we can work together and make oikos stronger. I would like to adapt communication and implement a clear direction for the alumni network, so there is mutual benefit.
Undoubtedly I am most excited to work with the remarkable people who make up the community. And, I especially can’t wait to exchange ideas, work with people who have so much expertise, and embed them in the community. As oikos supports all Alumni initiatives that are in accordance with oikos mission there is the opportunity for a greater impact on the whole community. And what is more exciting than making oikos stronger!
Creativity, courage, passion. I think my systematic way of thinking is a helpful trait.
Being a bit older, this wealth of experience is precisely what I believe makes me so valuable. I have already gone through some ups and downs in my life and believe that it has made me more relaxed and experienced. And this serenity is undoubtedly very helpful to drive oikos forward into a better future.
I am responsible for fundraising of oikos International and therefore I want oikos to be able to cover its costs as early as possible. I would also like to improve the low rate of conversion and to think more about alternative fundraising possibilities in the future. Furthermore, I would like to establish a system that will enable my successor to continue my work as seamlessly as possible.
A big thank you to the Former Board: Wyatt Ball, Sophie Charrois, Jakob Eberhagen, Sarah Martin, Benoit Pitsaer, Eva Spate, Alexis Troup.
Curious to know who they are? Find more about them here.
All the best to the Current Board: Mike Brodersen, Sophie Charrois, Paula Heess, Asif Gurbanov, Arthur Maria, Luisa Marie Pütz, Zvezdana Vuletic.
Curious to know who they are? Find more about them here.