Sustainability: Reinventing Higher Education
Updated: Apr 3, 2019
Dear President Paxon and President Iñiguez de Onzoño,
The prestigious institutions of Brown University and IE University should position themselves as global leaders in sustainable development and climate change driven adaptation in preparation for the significant social and economic threats that face our global community.
Many top tier universities have sustainability-focused programs and student organizations, but these efforts primarily focus on a narrow band of economic and social arenas like energy and inequality. Sustainability’s visible footprint on most campuses and school marketing material are narrowly defined by on-campus renewable energy efforts, recycling campaigns, and related student advocacy. IE and Brown have an opportunity to take the next step beyond these insufficient academic structures and perceptions to adopt a more comprehensive and practical necessity-based sustainability construct and culture.
Brown and IE need to prepare their students for a level of environmental driven social and economic change and tumult that will impact nearly all academic disciplines. Brown University’s schools of public health and public policy students, for example, will require a deep understanding of how the spread of tropical diseases beyond their historical bounds will threaten public health and global political stability. IE’s undergraduate architecture and engineering students will be tasked with citing, designing and building infrastructure that meets today’s needs but is also adaptable to predicted future environmental and economic realities.
Initial steps to adapt curriculum could be as modest as incorporating guest speakers and lecturers who can illustrate how our global community will change and what business and social risks, as well as opportunities, will arise. Many of my program’s existing courses like Competitive & Corporate Strategy, Entrepreneurial Opportunities in Developing Regions, Global Trends Seminar Series, and Understanding Health Disparities could later be adapted to address climate change’s impacts further. Our Cape Town South Africa in residence period is also an excellent learning laboratory opportunity for climate change driven challenges and solutions development opportunities.
Thank you for your kind consideration of my contribution to this year’s “Reinventing Higher Education” conference. Please let me know if I can provide higher fidelity on any of the ideas and recommendations this letter put forth. I would be honored to help IE and Brown take a global leadership position in preparing future leaders for our uncertain shared future. Hopefully, next year’s conference will focus on how our two great universities will come together with alumni, government and the private sector to create the collaborative synergies necessary to prepare tomorrow’s workforce for an uncertain future.