Greenhouse Gas Management: Consultancy Project for Undergraduates

Business Students contribute to solving sustainability challenges in the core curriculum

Overview:

How can universities help business to combat climate change?

In a unique partnership Nottingham Business School (Nottingham Trent University) has teamed up with Nottingham based social enterprise NetPositive to do exactly this: as part of their core curriculum final year Undergraduate students act as consultants to local businesses helping them to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and achieve Investor in the Environment (iiE) Accreditation. While learning about related underlying research and theories, students directly apply these to the organisations allocated to them. Based on their own research, the students also develop new ideas adding to existing knowledge of how to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The programme follows on from a Greenhouse Gas Management Project which has been run by Nottingham Business School (NBS) since 2011 involving over 1000 students and 200 companies from shopping centres to Indian restaurants. The students work in groups of 4-5 and attend weekly teaching sessions, comprised of a 60 minute lecture followed by a 60 minute seminar. Outside of class, they develop working relationships with their allocated business, undertaking at least one site visit. Feedback is provided from businesses and tutors to enable students to improve their final presentations and reports, which are presented collectively to tutors and businesses.

 

Businesses have commented positively on the professional work of the students, applauding in particular, their evidence-based, innovative ideas on how to reduce carbon emissions. Ideas have ranged from plans for a carbon-free Christmas in a shopping centre to unusual ways to reduce lift usage and change behaviour of employees. The project has demonstrated the key role business schools and students can play in providing practical support in the shift to a low carbon economy, by helping businesses across all sectors work on reducing their environmental impacts and develop niche low carbon offers and products. The student participation provides the skills, funding and time that often prevent businesses from gaining accredited Environmental Management Systems. In return, the project enables students to gain and enhance employability skills that cannot be learnt in the classroom. NBS was awarded the Guardian University Award 2015 in Business Partnership for this project, on which further information can be found here: http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2015/mar/19/business-partnership-category-winner-and-runners-up For more information on establishing such a project in your own institution contact: petra.molthan-hill@ntu.ac.uk

Publications/More information about this project:

Abstract

There has long been an understanding that to achieve meaningful progress against sustainability challenges, action is required at multiple levels. With regards to education initiatives, these levels range from macro-level international agreements and activities such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the United Nations Principles of Responsible Management Education, meso-level influences such as the role of national bodies supporting sustainability in higher education, and micro-level influences such as the commitment of individual universities or departments. However, decision makers are individuals and the development and delivery of such initiatives requires action at the level of the individual. This paper explores the impact of working within and across these different levels and how jointly they help to work towards addressing carbon reductions in a partnership setting between a business school and various organisations. In its centre is an educational initiative carried out in the United Kingdom in the core curriculum of Nottingham Business School where students conduct a carbon footprint of an organisation and recommend measures to reduce the company's greenhouse gas emissions. The total recommended greenhouse gas emissions savings from two years of the project were 507, 435 kg CO2e, averaging over 10 tonnes per organisation and 2 tonnes per student. If this project was extended over 5 years and taken on by an additional educator, the potential reductions increase to 2,562,418 kg CO2e. It demonstrates that action undertaken at the micro-level can result in significant impact at the macro-level when scaled up and provide significant benefits to actors across all levels from individuals though to all participating organisations. This initiative has proven very successful in delivering SDG 7, SDG 13 and SDG17; if taken up by more business schools the impacts on the targets of these SDGs and the climate change agreements could be significant.

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MOLTHAN-HILL, P., WINFIELD, F., BADDLEY, J. and HILL, S., 2017. Work based learning: students solving sustainability challenges through strategic business partnerships. In: P. FLYNN, M. GUDIĆ and T. TAN, eds., Redefining success: integrating the UN global compact into management education. PRME . Abingdon: Routledge. ISBN 9781783535484

MOLTHAN-HILL, P., ROBINSON, Z.P., HOPE, A., DHARMASASMITA, A. and MCMANUS, E., 2020. Reducing carbon emissions in business through Responsible Management Education: influence at the micro-, meso- and macro-levels. International Journal of Management Education, 18 (1): 100328. ISSN 1472-8117

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