Business discussion

What’s in a name? The sustainability debate

By Nicola Croxton, Lecturer at Aberdeen Business School - 26 May 2022

Sustainability is a hot topic right now and as we witness, in real time, drastic changes to our climate and catastrophic events happening across the world, we note the frequency and urgency of the sustainability debate and the need to provide solutions.

There are indeed many questions. What exactly is sustainability and what does it mean to become more sustainable in our everyday lives? Should we as individuals become more sustainable or is it the responsibility of business leaders to provide us with a more sustainable way of life? It is this curiosity that is driving this conversation forward, pushing for change, and applying pressure on government and business leaders to accelerate the sustainable agenda.  

But what exactly do we mean when we discuss the concept of sustainability? To some it means being an ethical consumer, shopping locally and avoiding corporate giants, to others perhaps recycling more and reducing our carbon footprint.  

With the recent COP26, governments, business leaders and NGOs came together to commit to the climate agenda. But as noted by Galdon and colleagues, one notable absence at COP26 was the lack of representation of Business Schools. And while this observation is open to interpretation, we need to acknowledge the important role that Business Schools play in shaping the sustainability agenda for the next generation of graduates.  

At Aberdeen Business School our goal is to make our graduates ‘job ready’ in this new green market economy. As the corporate world moves rapidly to innovate new products and services, transforming business models and creating new jobs, we provide our graduates with the knowledge and skills to be at the forefront of this new frontier, on our new MSc Business and Management with Sustainability degree.  

So, while the sustainability debate rages, does its meaning really matter in how we interpret the name so long as all these conversations result in action?  To me, I relate sustainability to the Brundtland Commission (1987) definition: “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Clearly this is not a new definition, and while the conversation may have become a little stale, the time is now to seize on new opportunities and keep pushing this conversation forward, pushing for change so that we don’t get left behind. So, ‘Do Look Up’ and explore the opportunities to be had in pursuing a career in the new green economy.   

Find out more about our new MSc Business and Management with Sustainability degree starting this September.

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