Reflections on the 2018 Enterprise and the Environment Summer School

2018 SSEE Summer School

The Smith School recently held its third Enterprise and the Environment Summer School, a 2-week course designed for future leaders of environmental change. The programme was attended by 35 students from 16 different nationalities and a global spread of Universities. Mary Bergen, joined the course from McGill University, and reflects below on her time in Oxford on the programme:

"Between July 1st - 13th, I had the privilege of attending the Enterprise and the Environment Summer School at the University of Oxford. During this intensive, 2-week programme, we explored the world's greatest challenges through a business-focused lens, ranging from sustainable finance, ESG investing, environmental economics, and much more.

Coming from a natural science background (with a dash of economics thus far), it was pretty intimidating to learn about environmental issues from the business standpoint. Furthermore, I was weary when it came to these perspectives, worried about the price-tags that would be placed on biodiversity, water, and all of the resources the natural world supplies.

But, coming in with an open mind was vital; and because of that, I could really soak up all the programme had to offer, and after the first few days, my mindset began to change. There needs to be deeper connections and collaboration between managers and scientists. As there is a lack of knowledge and misunderstanding about environmental degradation and issues, we need to "nudge" businesses to think in a sustainable way: through proxy voting, investment, engagement, environmental governance, and social responsibility.

The approach must be from all sides and all people, or a harmony of top-down and bottom-up. Communities and CEO's both need to make changes. Grassroots movements are important, but environmentalists should not neglect big businesses either.

To summarise, major changes still need to occur if we want to reach the SDG goals by 2030. The 35 attendees of the programme now have a greater depth of the current and future issues that we will be both contributing to and helping to fight against. As future leaders (hopefully), the business students that attended can collaborate with the scientists, and vice versa. We gained a deeper sense of the urgency and realness of the global threats, and viable solutions that we can help innovate and implement in our own career paths. I had an amazing experience at the University of Oxford, and the knowledge I gained from the programme I will take with me throughout my education and career."

View details of the 2019 Summer School.

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