The Business Schools Challenge: Training in Digital, Environmental and Societal Transitions

Gone are the days when the big schools were content to give a few courses on climate change to a handful of interested students.

Demand has broadened, become central and even a criterion for employability: “Companies know that the success of their transitions depends on these students,” announces Cédric Ghetty, program director at Kedge BS. Transitions in the plural, because there are at least three: digital, ecological and social. This last point has become very important in the ranks of the students: “Their vigilance has increased against all forms of discrimination, bullying, inequality, and that’s a good thing,” the program director testified.

The responsible school

On the climate issue, there is a sense of urgency. In the classroom, environmental and social intersect in all subjects. “With any economic activity, the question arises: how do you do the same with a better global impact?” summarizes Cedric Ghetty. Teaching is not an activity like any other for him: “Whether it likes it or not, a school is responsible for the professionals it trains,” he says. It is up to her to create a collective dynamic and compare the ideas of professors, experts from other disciplines and the students themselves: “The best way to engage them is to listen to them. Because they have ideas,” he says again.

The Gaia Model

Exploring new approaches without creating intellectual barriers is the raison d’être of the Gaïa School, created by and for Audencia BS.

“CSR (corporate social responsibility) was already a trademark for us. But we go further, says José Maillet, manager of this new entity. We have opted for an approach to constructive radicalism.” At Gaïa, students from the business school come to train, as well as

local craftsmen. All will work on biodiversity or even energy with companies “ready to break their model to overhaul the way they work,” the manager appreciates.

For the first year of study, in September 2022, the school offers an optional master’s semester called Ecological and Social Transition. Soon every

Audencia students are required to take “24 hour Gaïa courses adapted to the specialty they are studying”. Some will learn greener finance, others more responsible tourism, more ethical big data, etc. In short, another way to enter their future profession.

“The new generations need meaning”


Meeting with Yannick Servant / Co-Founder of the Business Climate Convention (CEC)

After HEC and a career in TECH you went in a different direction. Why ?

I was not alone in this case. After the context of the pandemic, many of my comrades wondered what the next step was. Many of them have changed careers, far from the cynicism of economic practices particularly linked to the need for unbridled growth. New generations need meaning and the feeling that they have an influence on our future. At CEC, the goal is to design and implement solutions that can resolve the dissonance between ecological collapse and economic priorities.

Do the Grandes Ecoles train young people enough to meet the challenges of our planet?

They start to mobilize. The challenge is to devise a pedagogical approach so that all lessons are illuminated in light of their impact on the planet and therefore on humans. But the priority target, in my opinion, is those who are in charge today. Schools therefore play an important role through continuing education to develop management committee practices.

What criteria could be used to assess the environmental behavior of schools?

Understanding the limits of our planet should be integrated into all subjects. If the environmental and social impacts are not assessed at the same level as the financial interests, nothing will change. In order to measure the impact of the Grandes Ecoles, it would be necessary to follow the course of the alumni and put the spotlight on the alumni who carry a new vision.

Interview by Gilbert Azoulay

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