"Visions of World Benefit & Global Responsibility: Perspectives of McGill Students

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Management Education in the 21st Century

For the longest time, management has focused on how to run a business (aka the monetary aspects of running a business). Considering that in a business, management has the final word on important decisions, there are many important categories that current university curriculum fail to address... the ongoing "green revolution." Although many know about the environmental movement going on, still up to this day, those in management consider environmental aspects "annoying, uncorroborated, a hassle, and run by hippies who have no idea about business and real life." Although some strides have been made to change this pre-set attitude, environmental courses taught for most departments fail to link the given department to environmental issues. Instead, now we have managers (among other departments) who know how global warming works and possible solutions but in their heads all of these alternative options are merely wishful thinking with little chance of functioning in real life... a situation which is far from true.
I believe that in the 21st century, management education will contain at least one course which links the issues of management and the environment. This education would of course cover a brief basic on the issue but most importantly will demonstrate real life examples of companies which applied environmental principles to their business strategy/decision making and had some extraordinary results. A particular note should be on profit margin gains since it would drive the notion that environmental solutions doesn't always negatively affect a company, in fact it can benefit tremendously from it.
Some of the topics which I believe should be focused on are:
  1. Environmental Requirements Integrated in Product Development and Life Cycle: Special note should be made on the end-of-life section and new ideas on disposal methods (aka incorporating techniques to improve recyclability)
  2. Designing for the Environment: Examining the external and internal drivers for environmental awareness in business with focus on the section regarding manager's sense of responsibility. The strategy wheel should also be taught to provide examples of how improvements in each section of the wheel provided positive feedback to the company.
  3. Environmental Management Systems: Studying what ISO 14001 is, why it can be beneficial for a corporation, some basic understanding of its sections, and most importantly economical aspects with focus on its benefits. A possible topic could also include on how to begin the process of incorporating ISO 14001 in an industry/company which doesn't have the system in place.
  4. International Environmental Issues: To bring light about the issues facing international businesses and their impacts to humanity in developing nations. The importance of environmental ethics (do what you would do in your own country) and the consequences of not following them (special attention to case studies such as Bhopal).
  5. International Environmental Agreements and Protocols: A basic outline on treaties such as Clean Air/Water Act, Kyoto, etc.

In all these major points, emphasis should be focused on companies who have set the example on working with environmental issues, how they implemented them and their success. By providing these case studies we can teach future managers that business and environmental issues can be linked positively. Furthermore, we give them the chance to open their minds and that solutions can come from unlikely sources as opposed to the traditional forms of managing a business (aka, need to cut costs? fire some workers). I believe that teaching environmental issues in such a way will truly give them real life tools to apply in the future or at least open their minds for environmental issues and solutions.

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