Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Adventures in Sustainability – beginning IFLAS

London is home to many organisations promoting environmental conservation and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), as well as a campus of the University of Cumbria. 

Therefore the team of the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) travelled to London to celebrate our foundation. 

Our host was the Royal Geographical Society, chosen for its role in the history of adventure and exploration, which are key themes for IFLAS’s approach to leadership and sustainability. A diverse audience of around 300 executives from business, government, academia and the voluntary sector heard a range of speeches that called on us to meet the challenge of sustainability with a new spirit of adventure. 

Our host, RGS Vice President Paul Rose, explained how the Institute approaches “sustainability” as a goal that requires a major change in our way of life. He introduced Ed Gillespie, co-founder of communications advisors Futerra, who shared insights from his travel around the world without flying. Then our senior lecturer Dr Kate Rawles described her adventure in cycling across the USA, talking to locals about climate change. 

Best-selling author of books on wild swimming, Daniel Start, then discussed the value of wilderness in bringing us perspective. 

Professor Jem Bendell addresses delegates
at the Royal Geographical Society

The co-founder of the dance band Faithless then took to the stage to talk about the inner adventure of becoming more honest about our understandings and feelings, as the starting point for action on sustainability. 

The founder of IFLAS, Professor Jem Bendell, then discussed the need for the sustainability professionals to be bolder in their change strategies, so that they relate to the scale of the problems faced.

Lord Hastings concluded the proceedings with congratulations to the University for its bold move to combine leadership and sustainability with a critical yet positive agenda. A video of highlights is available at the top of this page.

The event attracted a range of media attention. Kate, Ed and Jem appeared on the American sustainability show, Sea Change radio. For the Guardian, Daniel wrote about the importance of wilderness in leadership development, Jem wrote about the importance of a spirit of adventure in responding to climate change, and Kate shared more insights from her cycling trip.

Although the Institute was only launched in May 2013, it already runs the world’s largest specialist sustainability MBA programme, with the Robert Kennedy College, attracting students from over 100 countries (www.college.ch). IFLAS has also developed a specialism in sustainable economic innovation, hosting two sold out short courses on complementary currencies, co-writing a World Economic Forum report on the “sharing economy,” co-organising the United Nations first ever conference on complementary currencies, and publishing peer reviewed academic content (“Currencies of Transition” by Bendell and Greco, 2013).

This year, the Institute’s director Professor Jem Bendell has delivered keynote talks on the future of currency in Switzerland (at the UN), Netherlands, China, and the Philippines, and soon in Russia and Australia. He also presented at the head office of BT on experiential learning for leadership development

In September the global management development firm Impact International and IFLAS launched their partnership at the Royal Society of Arts, attended by senior managers in De Beers, Red Cross, and Thomson Reuters, amongst others.

The partnership will roll out a portfolio of short courses in 2014, and a new joint offering for leadership development by engaging stakeholders. More information on that partnership is available at www.impactinternational.com/iflas

Also in 2014 IFLAS launches a Post Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Leadership, which targets professionals with some experience in this field, who want to benefit from the University’s 100 year prowess in experiential learning at the Ambleside Campus, to help guide their future vocation.

Active engagement with sustainability professionals is important for us at IFLAS, and we seek this in person via an Open Lecture series with senior executives, and online via our LinkedIn group (with over 600 members).

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