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FutureLab 2015

Welcome to the
Publication of Ideas

Learning Circles 2015

Knowledge sharing platforms and action hubs on the topics of Finance, Economics, Energy, Supply Chain | Fashion and Management Education | COMMIT.

No Access



Were you there, when oikos Chapter Presidents opened the FutureLab 2015? Did you hear their call, loud and clear, for more responsible, more meaningful, more sustainable education? It was impressive, moving and the perfect opening to a conference that was all about education.


On this page you can revisit the events of those two days in St. Gallen. Watch the talks of our distinguished speakers (Be Informed), stroll through the diverse Learning Circle workshops (Get Involved) and see what the impact of the FutureLab is (Make a Difference). Feel free to join your favourite Learning Circle or one of the projects that was discussed during the Open Space. You will find all the necessary links and hints on this page.


Missed out on the FutureLab 2015? Don't despair. This is the place for you to learn about what happened and what could still happen. This is not just a protocol. This is our Publication of Ideas.


We are grateful for your continuous commitment to our mission. Contact us in case of any questions or comments. And join us in the journey to #MakeEducationMatter.


The oikos FutureLab Team

(Theresa, Renée,  Anita, Adriana, Adrian)

Be Informed


Do you believe...

... that business education needs to be transformed? (John Elkington, Volans)

“oikos - your network - is way more important than you may actually realize. Your power is way beyond your numbers and way beyond your parent strength.”


John_PortraitJohn Elkington is one of the masterminds behind many a sustainability agenda. Founder of SustainAbility, where he still serves as Honorary Chairman, and of his current project Volans, a future-focused catalyst for sustainability innovation and entrepreneurship, John is also a  million-selling author, stimulating the sustainable development discourse over four decades. He is a fan of oikos and so was convinced to speak at the FutureLab 2015. Watch his perspective on the current state of business education and how businesses and educators should work together in the upcoming breakthrough decade to create system change. And while you’re at it, read his latest inspiring and popular publication, written like a screenplay: The Stretch Agenda.

 "People say education is the most important investment we make as a society. And oikos is right smack bang in the middle of that landscape."

John reveals in our interview what he will, and students should, do next to make education matter.

... that universities should teach more than just how to use (parts of) your brain? (Martin Kalungu-Banda, Presencing Institute)

"Our way of continuous learning doesn't just depend on a few clever, gifted individuals. All of us are producers of experiences. knowledge and wisdom."

Martin_PortraitWhen we don’t use all of our human capabilities, a whole lot of potential is wasted. This is the root of the work at the Presencing Institute. The researchers and faculty who work at the MIT-based institute all share the vision that there is more to being human (and being a successful one) than just thinking with our brains. Their Theory U, a method and “way of being” that facilitates a more conscious way of leading, has been adapted by many management practitioners around the world. We were visited by one of the institute’s core faculty members, Martin Kalungu-Banda, who shared with us his vision for the discipline of management.

How should we use our experience, knowledge and wisdom to make the world a better place? Learn more in our interview.

"How can the other ways of learning be incorporated into formal education?"
asks oikos Alumna Anna Hofmann. Watch Martin's response here.

... that every university should assume responsibility for a better world? (Sascha Spoun, Leuphana)

"‘There is more still.’ This basic principle motivates us to keep asking questions, keep thinking, keep going further and it prevents us from ever thinking that our knowledge and our opinions should be the last word."

Sascha_PortraitLeuphana University in Lüneburg has transformed itself from one of the least known schools in Germany to one of the main drivers in sustainability education and responsible teaching. Its long-standing innovator and president since 2006 is Sascha Spoun. Having obtained his PhD and many years of teaching experience at the University of St. Gallen, he is a friend of oikos since its founding in 1987. At the oikos FutureLab 2015, he spoke about innovation, principles of education and the development of the university of the future - today.

... that entrepreneurship is the key to a sustainable future? (Regina Vogel, Climate-KIC)

'Europe should have its own MIT - an incubator for groundbreaking innovation.'

This must have been the thoughts of European Leaders when they set the corner stone for the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, EIT.

Regina1Regina Vogel helps to make this vision come true. She coordinates the Climate-KIC initiative in Switzerland, supporting young entrepreneurs and graduates with the tools to innovate for a sustainable future. What is a KIC? What can young entrepreneurs really achieve to combat Climate Change? Find out in Regina's presentation below. And visit http://www.climate-kic.org.

... that corporations can be the ‘universities of life'? (Jacqueline Spühler and Tina Zybur, IBM)

"It’s not just philanthropy, it’s leadership development and business development, and it helps build economic development in the emerging world."

(Stanley Litow, IBM)

Corporations, however negative headlines they make sometimes, harbor immense transformational potential. To allow for this positive thinking, we invited one of the most noteworthy initiatives to the oikos FutureLab. The IBM Corporate Service Corps is a CSR programme enabling employees and managers to engage in NGOs across the world. While adding value to the social and environmental work there, they gain invaluable experience and acquire new perspectives.

Jacqueline_PortraitJacqueline Spühler is Manager of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs at IBM Switzerland.


Tina1Her colleague Tina Zybur travelled to the Philippines to develop a specialization track for Business Analytics together with the Commission on Higher Education. She shared her experience with us at the FutureLab. Watch her accounts here:

... that there is a way to change the world through innovation and technology? (Ed Gillespie, Futerra)

“I think parts of our tertiary education system today are turning into a sausage factory.”

Ed_PortraitEd Gillespie came to call us to action. And that he did. Although we asked him to talk for almost 90 minutes, it was still a refreshing and activating talk.

And this is Ed’s mission. As Co-Founder of the sustainability agency Futerra, he creates visions and stories for companies embracing the concept of sustainability. He builds both the company’s agenda and the consumer’s perception of it. Head and Heart, they call that at Futerra.

At the FutureLab, Ed gave us an overview of the world as he sees it: messed up, somehow, but full of opportunities ready to be seized and visions ready to be realized. Watch his talk below and enjoy listening to a rhetoric genius at work.

“I’m wondering, if I had kids, who were about to go into university, whether I would recommend that or whether there is a better way to understand how the world works - without getting into horrible debt at the same time.”

How we can transform education and make sustainability a sexy topic? Hear it in this short interview with Ed Gillespie.

... that 5 talks, 5 Q&As and 2 discussions fit into just 4 drawings? (Uzzy Arztmann, The Visualist)

Uzzy (Ursula Arztmann, The Visualist) is a graphic recorder and an incredible multi-tasker. As she followed the events from the side of the stage and listened to speeches, discussions and questions from the audience, she created a graphic recording of it all. Yet a graphic recorder does not only draw everything she hears, but, as she says, "analyzes what's most important and puts it into a picture, connecting things together that belong together."  Through Uzzy's eyes, we can revive day 1 of the FutureLab and see what it entails, triggers and provokes - a complete picture of the conference in the true sense of the word.

Below, you can see what she created. Her explanations, shown in the video at the bottom, may help you to get a better understanding of the recording.


Watch Uzzy's presentation to learn more about the meaning of her drawings.

Get Involved

The Learning Circles



Improving Economics Education At Our Universities


Economics, being one of the most outdated subjects being taught according to some, gathered enthusiastic oikos members in its Learning Circle. With the presence of the Netzwerk Plurale Ökonomie, participants discussed different heterodox perspectives of economics. The Learning Circle closed its last session by brainstorming on how more heterodox and pluralist economics can be implemented in our curricula.


Read about the Learning Circle Participant's experience here.

Read about the outcomes of the Economics Learning Circle here.




Assessing the Global Impact of Energy and Innovation


Energy is the very reason for life, existence and sustenance. But the world has undergone a paradigm shift. Energy is now treated as a commodity. Trade, credits, investment and alternatives have taken over the industry as countries look to improve their Sustainability on the long run. With the help of Dr. Tobias Schmidt and Dr. Axel Michaelowa, experts on Energy and Climate policy respectively, the Energy Learning Circle explored the importance of Investment in Energy Innovation, and the importance of integrating such multi-disciplinary topics in University Curricula. The session ended with enlightened participants and great project ideas.


Read about the outcomes of the Energy Learning Circle here.



Understanding Responsible Business Models for a Sustainable Supply Chain


With the presence of a professor from the University of Reutlingen and the founder of rrrevolve, the Fashion Learning Circle first discussed the importance of controls at all stages of the supply chain to ensure sustainability. Sustainability does not only refer to the product or the environment it is a much more encompassing issue. After having identified that society struggles to responsibly consume since they are not aware of irresponsible supply chains, participants brainstormed on projects to overcome this misinformation and came up with interesting conclusions.

Read about the outcomes of the Supply Chain Learning Circle here.


Experiencing New Methodologies for Education


The COMMIT Learning Circle was supported by Chris Taylor, from our partners GRLI. Starting with an ice breaker that demonstrated our education doesn't encourage creativity, participants divided themselves into groups to deal with a topic our educational systems should improve on. Three groups were formed. The exercise entailed a final presentation where one of the groups showed a video that claims that children are so disconnected from nature that they cannot name shown vegetables. The workshop finalized with a group discussion on how people feel disconnected from something in their life and what projects they can initiate in order to improve that.


Read about the Learning Circle Manager's experience here.

Read about the outcomes of the COMMIT Learning Circle here.



Promoting the Integration of Sustainability in Finance Research and Teaching

The Finance Learning Circle aims at the implementation of sustainability criteria into the finance curricula. The Finance Learning Circle initiated their workshops with two guest professors. Marc Chesney from the University of Zurich broad up the issue of market power and manipulation in financial markets and its relation to sustainability and Dr Roland Hengerer from RobecoSAM AG who spoke about market power and fossil fuel divestment. After a critical reflection on their own financial education and a brainstorming and discussion to improve these aspects, students come up with concrete ideas on the second day.


Read about the Learning Circle Manager's experience here.

Read about the outcomes of the Finance Learning Circle here.



Making Entrepreneurship Techniques available to Developing Countries

The Entrepreneurship Learning Circles was the most popular according to the application and the participants where eager to spread and develop their ideas to improve education through entrepreneurship. They developed a business model for three developing countries: Brazil, Pakistan and the Senegal. The business models are based on MOOCs to enable better access to education in these countries through digital technology.


Read about the outcomes of the Entrepreneurship Learning Circle here.



Other Sessions



Fishbowl discussion


Great action plans require highly interactive sessions and participation. Reflecting our education systems and developing ideas to transform it towards more sustainability demands a deep understanding of the problem.

To discuss and engage in the definition of the problem speakers and students met in a fish bowl discussion where all delegates and speakers had the opportunity to negotiate and discuss face-to-face. The discussion was so intense and there were many comments and questions from the audience. Participants ended up queuing to enter the fishbowl.


Silent Q&A


The talks by Sascha Spoun, IBM and Regina Vogel were highly inspiring. However, the ever critical oikos audience is always challenging. Participants questioned the best practice, asked what impact projects already had in terms of their sustainability and education. This session ended with an individual Q&A session. Here, participants had the possibility to make up their mind on the presented projects and silently write their questions and comments on a flip board which the speakers then answered.


Variety and Passion at the oikos Impact Fair


Amongst the many members that signed up to present their project at the Impact Fair, three interesting projects are highlighted here.


1. The first is the Sustainability Report University of Hamburg. The aim is to reach out to the students to raise awareness about sustainability and how it is applied in four fields: ecological, economical, social and education and research at the university. The sustainability report shall be read by students, professors and administrative staff to raise awareness on sustainability issues on campus. Additionally, it provides students with the opportunity to apply their gained knowledge and, therefore, gain some experience with reporting, discussing indicators and how sustainability can be measured.


2. The second is the oikos Copenhagen Academy. This is a lecture series held every semester under a new theme for all students in Copenhagen. Now in its third year, the audience has grown steadily to more than 200 students per lecture and attracts high level speakers from leading organizations to talk about real life challenges and solutions in sustainable business. The mission is to inspire students from various backgrounds to become aware of the benefits of following sustainable business practices and consider relevant career choices in green businesses, CSR or as social entrepreneurs.


3. The third is the 4 hours Sustainability Driven Strategy Consulting Experience brought by Accenture exclusively for oikos. oikos Chapters could apply to “win” a 4 hours workshop with Accenture Strategy – Sustainability Services at their university. Three chapters went on to win this workshop, where they will be able to broaden the perception on future work opportunities in sustainability and strategy consulting. Students will also be able to dive into practice and learn sustianability-related business thinking and potential dilemmas. Furthermore, faculty will gain "out of the box" ideas for sustainability-related business issues.


Read about the other projects presented at the Impact Fair here.


Make a Difference


One of the key elements of the FutureLab is to develop, commit to, plan and initiate new projects. During the Open ppace of the FutureLab oikos members and Learning Circle Managers presented innovative concepts to make education matter. Now it is down to the oikos community to turn these ideas into reality.


An alternative higher education ranking system for sustainability


Jonas Friedrich from oikos Witten-Herdecke pitched the idea of an alternative higher education ranking at the Open Space during the FutureLab 2015:

Since oikos is a students network engaging for the inclusion, better a broad focus on sustainability issues in business and management studies, I was featuring the idea of an alternative higher education institutions ranking which focusses on sustainability. Making it easier for us, young people, to find places which make education matter and prepare us for the obvious social and ecological, and cultural challenges in the globalised world we live in. I believe that education in generally has to commit to a fundamental shift in teaching methods and content, focusing on peer-to-peer learning, experience based methods, personal development and many more. I see this rarely happening in traditional education institutions. However, these which take steps could be ranked and information could be made easily accessible. Alongside University rankings, I would like to feature projects, which can't provide a traditional degree, but take an approach which embraces future-responsibility with innovative, practical, only partly rationally based learning methods. I think about Knowmads Business School Amsterdam, OASIS Sampa, MIT x ULab and many more...

If you like this idea, have feedback or suggestions you can get in touch with  and have a chat about it.

Developing shared visions for pluralistic economics education


The Economics Learning Circle had very intense and deep discussions, exploring the problem they are trying to tackle: How can we promote pluralism in economics education? Members, who attended the workshop will go away and organise events to promote the importance of pluralistic teaching in their local chapters. Especially local reading circles promise to strengthen the awareness and consequential action taken by students to change their economics curricula to become more pluralistic. Such local reading circles can be translated into virtual reading circles and topic-specific webinars, which will be accessible to a wider audience. This would build on the existing Learning Circle community and utilize as well as develop the expertise of its members.

Get in touch with the Economics Learning Circle Manager  or become part of the Economics Learning Circle Community.

A one-week interdisciplinary program to facilitate education about sustainable energy


In the Energy Learning Circle the idea of a one-week long interdisciplinary program was developed. The speakers Dr. Axel Michaelowa and Dr. Tobias Schmidt complemented each other in addressing climate and energy policy in the context of investment in energy innovation. They highlighted the importance of multi-disciplinary approaches in curricula to be able to achieve this. Therefore, to promote such an idea, the circle emerged with a project to host workshops, across Universities in several places to promote related topics under a single umbrella.

If you are interested in the interdisciplinary program or the Energy Learning Circle in general you can contact , the Learning Circle Manager or join the community’s Facebook page.

Local workshops about alternative teaching methodologies in chapters


The initiative COMMIT, which grew out of the Management Learning Circle after last year's FutureLab aims to make a difference to the way future desicsion makers are taught at university level. It stands for Change Of Management-education & Methods In Teaching. At the FutureLab 2015 they held a workshop about alternative teaching methods, which after its success at the conference, they are planning to bring to local oikos chapters to have an even bigger impact. If you are interested in changing management education and teaching methods and attending one of their workshops, you can get in touch.

Establish university courses that focus on sustainable finance


The Finance Learning Circle aims to establish university courses with a specific focus on sustainable finance. This includes lectures and modules on this topic in finance courses both on the bachelor and master level. Based on the example of the University of St. Gallen, it is also planned to spread the model of a dedicated bachelor course on sustainability and finance to other universities.

Join the oikos Finance Initiative or get in touch with one of the Managers ,  and .

Awareness campaign and consumer guide on sustainable fashion


As part of an awareness raising campaign the Supply Chain Learning Circle shot a video during the FutureLab, which is to be launched in 2016. In this video they draw attention to the sustainability issues associated with fast fashion and urge their peers to take responsibility for the consumer choices they are making. Following this campaign a comprehensive guide will be developed to equip consumers to make sustainable choices in their clothing purchases. If you would like to know more about the campaign, the consumer guide or the community, feel free to reach out to the Learning Circle Manager or join the Facebook group.

Supporting oikos conferences on the topic of social entrepreneurship and implementing a MOOC

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 13.14.05

Following a successful workshop on social entrepreneurship at the FutureLab 2015,  a collaboration with Urs Jäger from ICAE Business School to implement a MOOC on entrepreneurship has been proposed. In March 2016 the oikos Spring Meeting will focus on the topic of creating an entrepreneurial mindset. The Entrepreneurship Learning Circle may be supporting oikos Lille in the preparation and conducting of the conference and contribute their learnings to the process.

Find our more about the oikos Spring Meeting on entrepreneurship or contact the , who managed the entrepreneurship Learning Circle during the FutureLab.

Every participant of the oikos FutureLab 2015 wrote down a commitment on what they are planning to do to make education matter in the coming year. Here are some of the highlights:


I make education matter by assisting people and myself to expand their/my intelligence by sensing and feeling.
I am going to make education matter by actively engaging my professional peers about sustainability concepts.
I pledge to teach at least 10 BPL kids in Pune.

I pledge to bring forth awareness and importance of education in developing countries by leveraging business and ventures.
I make education matter by keeping on rallying for more pluralism in economics.
#MakeEducationMatter by letting the magic in.

I make education matter by promoting sustainability in all my courses classes through questioning.
I make education matter by trying to transform my members into responsible leaders of tomorrow.
I make education matter by bringing COMMIT to the next level!

Aside from these public commitments, every participant also wrote a letter to themselves, reflecting on their experience during the FutureLab. They were also encouraged to write about what they are aiming to contribute to make education matter in the next months. The letters will be sent to participants six months after the FutureLab.

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Photo: Robert Stürmer
Annual Report Layout: Andrew Colby