Letter: Climate crisis needs business schools to woo natural scientists

Your article (“Academic Alliance Aims to Put Purpose and Planet at the Center of Curriculum,” Special Report, FT.com, Jan. 13) highlights how business schools are incorporating the concept of sustainability into their curricula. It emphasizes how they are integrated.

I need it, yes Enough, no.

Simply integrating sustainability into existing management disciplines will not equip students with the necessary knowledge and skills to work there and will not guide companies to achieve sustainability goals such as net zero emissions. . The great sustainability challenges of the world arise from the complex interrelationships between economic, social and biophysical systems. Solving them requires a deep understanding of economic and social systems that business students develop through research in existing management disciplines. However, sustainability challenges also require science-based knowledge of biophysical systems. The natural sciences (not to mention natural scientists!) remain absent from business schools.

Not coincidentally, most of the students who won the FT’s new Responsible Business Education Awards in the Student-Led Projects category used new biodegradable, compostable, zero-waste materials to create straws, shoe insoles, and more. , created sustainable products such as buildings. Developing such ideas requires skills in chemistry, physics, biology, botany, agriculture, and carbon, water, and material cycles. Time spent within the walls of the business school certainly nurtured managerial and entrepreneurial skills, but it is doubtful whether equally important natural science abilities were acquired there.

If business schools do not open their doors to the natural sciences, they risk losing relevance and resources to other schools that may be better suited to this task, such as the Stanford Dore School of Sustainability cited in the report.

Lucrezia Nava
Assistant Professor of Corporate Social Responsibility, Bayes School of Business
City, University of London, UK

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