This month as we’re preparing for NexGenLead – our biggest project for the year, we’re excited to share with you some amazing reading content! We’re happy to be given the chance to contribute to a Financial Times article covering changes currently happening in higher education. Get to know more about oikos and get a better understanding of our definition of sustainability which also defines what we do in the latest oikos publication.
In this edition we also kick off the new Alumni Impact segment where oikos Alumni share their inspiring stories. Along with that, we’re happy share the news from our partners network with a Positive Impact Rating announcement, along with upcoming conferences on sustainability in education.
Real Estate serving the local community, environment and economy – Sébastien De Hulster: oikos Alumni Impact
Welcome to the Alumni Impact. The new segment aims to strenghten the connection between the active and alumni oikos members through inspiring stories showcasing the work and impact of oikos Alumni in the world of sustainability.In this first edition we feature Sébastien De Hulster and his inspiring story!
Bellevilles is a personal accomplishment, but above all it’s an incredible collective adventure that is just starting!
I was one of the co-founders of the oikos Paris chapter in 2000 which I was excited to be a part of as a non-profit. I was aware of sustainability challenges at the time, but hadn’t yet realized the power of sustainable development. 20 years later, here I am: I created Bellevilles – a real estate company focused on local, social and ecological projects.
Many of the things I needed to be the president of Bellevilles, I’ve learned during my time in oikos Paris. Those years were incredibly rich and fulfilling for me. I was surrounded by many talented people who shared the same energy and passion for what would later be called – ESS : Economie Sociale et Solidaire.
At my business school, there were a few of us interested in alternative business models. We were convinced that you could be profitable while also preserving the environment and the people. The collaborative dimension of oikos I found deeply inspiring. Seeing each person opening up their networks to others and sharing knowledge just to help grow the movement. I really enjoyed my time at oikos, which 15 years later inspired me when naming my own business – Oïkos Développement, to dwell back on that collective energy.
Since 2005, I run a real estate investment company along with my brother, specialising in small town retail. We’ve always tried to do our job a little differently: ensuring the quality of constructions in the long term and trying to help our tenants as much as possible. But for a long time, I felt like I was just doing “business as usual”, feeling it didn’t give meaning to my life. Throughout these 15 years the oikos Alumni community helped restore my belief that a better world is possible. Going back as often as possible and hanging out with fellow Alumni who’ve had the chance and courage to dedicate their professional lives to sustainability was trully insipring.
I learned a very important lesson at oikos : it only takes one person! And each person is an opportunity. So when I was asked me to be a consultant on a mixed-use project (tiers-Lieux) of 13000m2 in Toulouse, I didn’t hesitate. And I did well, because I rediscovered my own industry! I realised that real estate can be a very powerful tool for implementing projects which make a positive impact. I teamed up with a group of like-minded friends. With a shared belief real that estate should serve the common good, last year we launched together Bellevilles, Foncière Responsable.
I am very proud of it, because we are filling a huge gap in the ecosystem of real estate companies that focus on social and environmental subjects. People are waiting for it, they want it. It is incredible to feel so warmly welcomed as we start up the company. This amazing support helped Bellevilles successfully do a crowdfunding campaign and collect a record of 2 millions euros, through 730 private investors. This fundraiser is going to help us finance 13 projects in different parts of France: cultural projects in Toulouse, Paris and the countryside, the refurbishment of a small shopping center, the transformation of 9 abandoned banking agencies and the reinvention of a shut down school in the center of a village…
The real estate industry is usually focused on tackling environmental issues. But sustainability is a wider and broader challenge – it encompasses important social issues. Deciding what type of activities are going to be part of a new neighborhood (housing, offices, shops) has a crucial impact not only on how people live on a daily basis, but also on the local economy. Nowadays, real estate is mainly interested in financial profitability. That’s why Bellevilles wants to open new horizons and make real estate into a tool that serves people, local communities, economy, culture and leisures.
Recently, Bellevilles was nominated as one of the next generation leaders in city design during the MIPIM, one of the biggest real estate events in France. It’s a thrilling adventure not only for me and for my partners Alexandre, Jérémie and François, but also for the fantastic oikos Alumni community we have and all the people who wish to collaborate for a better world.
PS : Writing about this experience makes me cherish the moments I had with Arnaud Z. Dragicevic, Anne-Sophie Hottiaux, Véronique Neuve-Eglise, Charlotte Poul and Benjamin Colin who created the Parisian oikos chapter (and who I am working with now on some of our Bellevilles’ projects!). I also admire those who followed this movement and started inspiring companies (Jérôme Lhotte et Alexis Angot). I greet them and I thank them deeply, this success is also theirs.
Students Call for Better Economics and Management Education: Kate Raworth in Conversation with Students
Wednesday, 21 October 2020 8:00 – 9:30 PST / 11:00 – 12:30 EST / 16.00 – 17:30 GMT / 17.00 – 18:30 CEST Please RSVP here: https://forms.gle/3zj6BD7EVQbrSfJYA
P4NE Background note
Students are intensifying their calls for reform of economics and business school education, while seeking university leadership that values their future. COVID-19 has laid bare the fault lines of orthodox economic theory and the risks of relying on traditional management theories and practises. Mainstream economics has failed to answer questions about or provide realistic solutions to rising inequality, increasing environmental breakdown, or our recurring economic crises, much less provide a realistic pathway to a fair, prosperous and regenerative future. For students, this has amplified their demands for a more diverse and innovative approach to teaching and research in economics and management.
A call from the student community
As students, these challenges weigh heavily on our minds. We feel a pressing need to acquire crucial competencies to deal with uncertainty, and to find and implement solutions to global problems. We strive for pluralism in economics and management theories, concepts and methodologies, and wecall for interdisciplinarity that reflects our values and assumptions about the world. We believe thatintellectual courage, system thinking and a proactive mindset are key competencies that we should acquire during our studies. That is why we have organized ourselves in order to strengthen the student voice and act for change at our universities. How could economics and management education address our current and upcoming challenges? What kind of leadership should we strive for? What is the most effective way to transform economics and management education? Which successful projects can we build on? We are eager to share, learn and collaborate to find solutions. Let’s envision and act for better economics andmanagement education together.
Magdalena Rusch, oikos Graz, Austria Kamal Ramburuth-Hurt, Rethinking Economics for Africa. Ignacio Silva Neira, Masters of Analysis Economics. Maria João Pimenta, Economists For Future. Chair: Luisa Jentsch Netzwerk Plurale Ökonomik e.V.
Defining Sustainability: oikos’ understanding of sustainability & sustainable development
What does sustainability mean? Why and how do we act and inspire towards sustainability as an organization? How do we make sure that the change we make is sustainable as such? Many questions – here we outline some answers that manifest our standpoint from a scientific perspective.
Climate change, drastic biodiversity decline, poverty, inequality, mass migration: these are only some examples of the sustainability challenge our world is facing at the moment. To move ahead on the path towards sustainability, we all have to act together and will have to rethink the ways we think, create and interact as a society. For oikos and many others, economics and management are two fields at the core of the needed transformation- and in particular the education in these fields. This is where we at oikos aim to help shifting the basic mode of operation onto a sustainable path – and thus widening the walls of the funnel and stabilizing our ecological and social systems.
Sustainable Development at oikos – our theory of change
At oikos, sustainable development is at the core of our purpose – and more specifically the sustainable development and transformation of the higher education system and how we understand, teach, learn and use economics and management for the good of people and planet.
We do that by empowering and encouraging student change agents and actively creating shifts in the way curricula are structured and developed. We have over 40 active student groups in 23 countries and 4 continents that contribute to this vision in very creative and self-organized ways. The local groups feed their developments back into an inspiring international community of like-minded thought leaders.
We nurture the leaders of tomorrow: The philosophy of change agents doesn’t only guide our actions, but also the direction where we wish to see the system shifting: to support individuals in becoming sustainability leaders, education has to focus on fostering students to have “an enhanced understanding of themselves, their abilities and desires, as well as a more profound understanding of their fellow humans and the world they inhabit” (Bodinet 2016, 21)
One thing that cannot fall short: if we aim to contribute to the transformation of education and sustainable development in economics and management, a critical question that needs to be asked is: how do we define sustainability to inform tangible, strategic action that shifts our unsustainable course?
Our sustainability definition – the 8 sustainability principles
The eight sustainability principles (3 environmental, 5 social principles):In a sustainable society, nature is not subject to systematically increasing… 1. …concentrations of substances extracted from the Earth’s crust (e.g. fossil carbon or metals); 2. …concentrations of substances produced by society (e.g. CFCs or NOx); 3. …degradation by physical means (e.g. overfishing or overharvesting of forests);and, in that society, people are not subject to structural obstacles to … 4. …health (e.g. by dangerous working conditions or insufficient rest from work); 5. …influence (e.g. by suppression of opinions); 6. …competence (e.g. by obstacles for education or insufficient possibilities for personal development); 7. …impartiality (e.g. by discrimination, unfair selection to job positions or ); 8. …meaning-making (e.g. by suppression of cultural expression)Have a look at these videos to learn more: a)b)c)
Using the Sustainability Principles as a definition gives a rigid frame in practice to analyse, cluster and understand positive and negative contributions to sustainable development in a holistic way.
How we use our sustainability definition
For oikos, sustainable development is development within the boundaries of our planet, so to say a development that does not diminish the functioning of our system, but rather aims at fostering these functions. The 8 SPs provide a clear, operational definition of sustainability that can be adopted by any organization in combination with their existing purpose, values and goals to define organizational success in a way that enables strategic action to be taken in that direction. And that’s also how we use it: Our definition of sustainability frames all our organizational activities and decisions, in particular in the fields of
Organizational foundations: our purpose, values, mission, vision are framed by the SPs to make sure we act in a sustainable manner
Program design & execution: when creating our programs and conducting them, we make sure not to violate any SP
Fundraising: Our principles for fundraising include alignment with our sustainability definition. Donors are only accepted if they do not systemically violate any of the SPs.
Team development: Also our internal processes and structures have to consider the principles, especially the social ones. We are a social system ourselves 🙂
IT & ethical data processing: ethics and sustainability in data handling is an important topic for us. The SPs help us to clarify what we are talking about.
When we plan and do all of these things, we scan them through the SPs and make sure to spot as many critical violations and positive contributions as possible.
Want more details? This article is a short summary of the publication you can read in full here.
Defining Sustainability: oikos’ understanding of sustainability & sustainable development
What does sustainability mean? Why and how do we act and inspire towards sustainability as an organization? How do we make sure that the change we make is sustainable? This publication outlines some answers that manifest our standpoint from a scientific perspective. It focuses on our theory of change and an understanding of sustainability that is rooted in a systemic perspective. 8 principles are at the core of this action-oriented definition, which allows us to sustainably move ahead with all we do and how we work.
Authors: Sophie Charrois, Luisa Puetz, J. Christopher Proctor, Jyoti Hooda, Nicolás Águila
• Develop solutions on how to mobilize more resources for action-oriented climate change research and skills creation based on cross-institutional sharing of ideas, resources, and action plans • Increase the delivery of environmental and sustainability education across curriculum, campus and community outreach programmes through combined knowledge, influence, and community to tackle the global climate crisis • Explore how fellow sustainability professionals are planning to meet their carbon emissions targets and adopt solutions that are relevant to your own institution’s journey to achieve your own targets
The conference will bring insight and debate from high profile international speakers with workshops delving into more details on specific issues and the virtual conference platform will bring you the best networking and engagement opportunities.
Keynote Speakers include:
Sam Barratt – Chief of the Youth, Education and Advocacy Unit, UNEP Dr Maya Prabhu – Professor of Psychiatry, Yale University Dr Nina Seega – Director for Sustainable Finance, Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership Nigel Topping – UN High Level Climate Action Champion for UK – COP26 Team Marcos Regis da Silva – Executive Director – Inter-American Institute of Global Change Research (IAI)
If your main institution is in a country defined by the World Bank as having a low-income economy or you will have difficulty paying the full conference fee, please email the conference helpdesk (INCLUDE HYPERLINK TO – firstname.lastname@example.org) for details of how to register at a reduced or waived rate.