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TE Stories

oikos St. Gallen Curriculum change journey

The oikos St. Gallen curriculum change team consists of Luna, Robin, Daniel, Sandro and Carina as the project head. In the following, we hope to give you an insight into our work of the last year. The overview will be structured like our separate team responsibilities: Assessment year (Carina), IWÖ (Luna and Robin), Open Evenings (Daniel), Sustainable Finance (Sandro) and StartWeek (Luna). 

During our summer holidays, Anna, former President of oikos St. Gallen, had a conversation about curriculum change in the assessment year with the president of University of St. Gallen’s (HSG) Student union. To better understand the context: The assessment year stands for the first two semesters at our university, where every student has to pass the same exams in order to finally decide for a specific major in the third semester. There is currently a single lecture about sustainability in one of five obligatory courses in the entire year. Apart from this, we did not notice the topic being mentioned once in the entire year, sustainability is most certainly not integrated as well as it could be. The president of the Student Union liked our idea, so, in July, Carina organized a first meeting with him, Anna and two representatives of HSG’s institute for economy and the environment (IWÖ). After this pitch he agreed to introduce her to the heads of the assessment as well as one of HSG’s vice presidents. The second meeting in November and the pitch to convince all these stakeholders for our vision for change for the assessment required a lot of preparation, we put the final presentation in the appendix of this mail. Carina presented to them our evidence that there is so much demand for more sustainability in the curriculum and, to our own surprise, they agreed with every single point and had a lively discussion on how to make as many little (and later bigger) changes as possible!

Luna and Robin are closely working together with the IWÖ and started to scan all the course fact sheets to find out whether courses already implemented sustainability in any way. This being very time intensive and the necessity to repeat the procedure every year lead them to the idea to start the More is more – Sustain the change campaign: At the moment they are designing a survey for all professors to clarify whether they teach or mention sustainability in their courses. When this survey is completed, it will be sent per email to all professors together with an invitation to the Open Evenings taking place in March 2022.

The Open Evenings Event in March 2021 to spark the conversation about curriculum change was a success but the question of how to drive actual change from a student perspective still remained. That is why, in collaboration with the oikos St. Gallen sustainability week, we will focus even more on the invitation of stakeholders such as program managers and professors. Here, Daniel is coordinating the contact with the sustainability week and the speakers.

A Business administration bachelor finance professor reached out to us respectively the oikos St. Gallen sustainable finance team because he is trying to replace one of the case studies in his course with one about a sustainable company. Apart from searching for this case study, Sandro and the sustainable finance team explored the opportunity to create an own, student-made sustainable finance course. However, a new course needs to be registered over a year before its implementation which is why this idea seemed to be rather unrealistic for our one-year team members.

HSG offers the “Managing Climate Solutions” certificate, where groups of Master students help shape our university’s infrastructure in a sustainable way. One of these groups recently contacted us and asked for our support to convince the administration of the StartWeek to address sustainability in their case study (all assessment students participate in this week at the beginning of their studies and work on a case study about a global challenge). Luna will have a meeting with them soon.

There is a lot more background organization and administration necessary in order to make all of these projects possible. We are constantly receiving many opportunities for curriculum change and our strategy seems to have developed in a very emergent way. As a group of students with limited time resources we always try to focus only on the options that show that are most promising to implement real curriculum change at our own university. We are super proud of the work we do and are happy to announce that one of our teamies, Sandro Tissi, has most recently been elected as the new president of oikos St. Gallen!