Sustainability Days

Whether discussing climate change, social inequality or resource scarcity: The challenges facing our society are significant. To create a just and sustainable world, first and foremost, we need decision-makers to possess a greater amount of knowledge, skills, and awareness about the necessity for change. Universities play a key role in this regard, as they function as training centres for future decision makers. Furthermore, universities have a special responsibility to serve as role models for society. Therefore, a clear commitment to sustainability leads to long-term positive developments in society. A sustainability-oriented education contributes to the creation of a sustainable future.

CBS recognizes these challenges and therefore, constantly strives to align teaching, research and management with principals of sustainable development and the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. By further integrating social responsibility and sustainability into university operations, CBS seeks to take on a pioneering role in the German education landscape and continues to expand its expertise in the field of sustainable management training. Key topics such as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), economic and corporate ethics and sustainability are already firmly anchored in the curricula of CBS’s various departments.

The university began to intensify its involvement in this area through participation in the CCI Cologne’s project, ÖKOPROFIT (Ecoprofit). The economic development program Ecoprofit (Ecological Project for Integrated Environmental Technology) helps to set a framework regarding the optimal use of resources and the reduction of operating costs through environmental and climate protection measures. It is a collaborative effort between the city of Cologne, local economic actors and other partners. By helping companies reduce operational costs, the project fosters sustainable economic development. This spring representatives of prominent Cologne-based companies such as Köln Messe, Köln Bonn Airport, Kölner Zoo, EADS, 1. FC Köln and ASV Köln visited CBS to learn about the CBS sustainable management system.

With the Sustainable University project, CBS strives to include its three key stakeholder groups: employees, students and organization in the successful integration of innovative and practical approaches to sustainability. Through the project, Cologne Business School is not only striving to develop into a more sustainable university, but has also the goal of becoming a certified Ecoprofit operation by Spring 2016. Additionally, the project helps to further the goal of integrating sustainability into all academic aspects of the university through innovative and practical approaches. To help achieve this goal, a Sustainability Team was formed.

To this end, a physical checklist was installed in every CBS lecture hall, which helps to remind those using the rooms to save energy, specially reminding professors to turn off the lights or the projector and dispose of their trash.

Sustainability Days 2020 – 26 – 28 October 2020

Three days of “Game Changers” at CBS: Our Sustainability Days 2020 brought valuable insights, interesting discussions and strengthened our understanding of what it takes to change the old business paradigm towards a future-fit and sustainable economic system. 

For three days, the CSR-Student Team, together with the Center for Advanced Sustainable Management, organized various lectures and workshops to raise awareness about sustainable topics.  

The Sustainability Days kicked off on Monday, the 26th, by a guest lecture of GLS Bank held by Antje Tönnis and Lea Mohnen. As this lecture was also initiated from the CBS Investment Academy, the two presented the sustainable business model of the GLS Bank, which is only investing in sustainable projects and companies. 

Tuesday, Volker Rau, founder and CEO of the consulting agency KEYPLAY in Cologne, highlighted different theories and strategies for Change Management. Change Management plays a key role in changing existing processes and habits into more sustainable ones, especially in a business context. In the second lecture of the day Claudia van’t Hullenaar, together with Silvia Damme and Marina Schmitz from CASM talked Climate Change. The three members of the Climate Reality Project’s Leadership Corps gave an introduction on the urge to act on the climate crisis and closed the session with the questions: Will we change and what does this mean for each of us? 

The third and last day of the Sustainability Days started with  The Future Game 2050 where students got to envision the future of 2050 and unlocked their imagination on how a world in 30 years could look like through an interactive workshop tool. Can we live in half-sunken cities? Will there be corporations entirely run by AI? The ability to imagine different possible futures enables us to create better strategies on how we can get there and lets us handle complex uncertainties with more resilience. Later in the afternoon, Yannick Ferber from Sustainalytics provided insights into ESG ratings. He shared how Sustainalytics researches data on ESG and Corporate Governance for companies and states. Our closing speaker, Dr. Hans-Dietrich Reckhaus from Insect Respect, then talked about how he drastically changed his business model in the past years to protect insects and raise awareness on their importance for humanity. For his initiative, he already received numerous awards and is currently a finalist for the German Sustainability Award 2020.   

We are looking back on exciting and insightful days and hope that our fellow students gained interesting knowledge of how sustainability and profitability can work together in the context of game changing processes and transformations in different industries.  

Sustainability Day Fall/Winter 2019 at CBS

The second sustainability day in 2019 took place during the winter semester, on November 19. The program started with the online symposium “Dialogue across Borders” hosted by the CASM together with INTI University in Malaysia. The symposium discussed topics of International Development and the SDGs as well as Sustainable Supply Chain Management. A CBS student group further presented their market research on the introduction of a re-usable cup system on campus. An interesting mix of guest lectures, organized by the CSR Student team, followed throughout the day.
The first presentation introduced the Start-Up Treefy, which focuses on the advantages of reforestation and was founded by Lukas Kulemeier, a CBS Student. As forests play an important role in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem, the Start-Up offers the possibility to offset personal C02 emissions through reforestation. The second lecture tackled Circular Economy and how the fair fashion Label ARMEDANGELS integrates this topic within their business model. Following this lecture held by their CR-Manager Lavinia Muth, Students of the CSR Student Team had prepared a lecture to present additional circular business models and the true cost of fast fashion. As fast fashion creates enormous environmental impact and bad social working conditions, the goal of the guest lecture was to raise awareness and to present possible solutions through the circular economy. The day ended with an informal exchange between the participants, including some drinks and vegetarian snacks.

During the entire day, ideas from the CBS students for a more sustainable business school were collected on site. These ideas will inspire future projects of the CASM and the CSR student team.

Sustainability Day Spring/Summer 2019 at CBS

This year’s first Sustainability Day organized by the CSR Student Team of CBS and Center for Advanced Sustainable Management took place on May 6th – with a schedule full of interesting presentations, activities, and networking opportunities.

The first presentation was given by digitalization expert Karl-Heinz Land, giving insights in his book Earth 5.0 and the benefits of digitalization for sustainable development. It was followed by a diverse discussion on the topic, right before the participants moved on to the next “sustainability class” with trivago. The internet company specialized in tourism, spoke about corporate citizenship and how they are applying it for their purposes. Furthermore, the start-up CleverShuttle shared their ideas for sustainable and innovative ways of mobility.

The Sustainability Day ended with a great cinema experience – the streaming of Wayne Vissers documentary “Closing The Loop” – completed by popcorn and drinks.

Sustainability Week 2018 at CBS

From November 13th – 16th 2017 CASM and the CSR Student Team organized an exciting week with leading experts from various industries. Four CBS Executive Sustainability Classes were held by representatives of the following companies: Green2B, Henkel, GLS Bank and Interseroh. Besides Executive Sustainability Classes the student initiatives Founders Factory and the CSR Student Team of CBS hosted the Social Sustainability Day on the 16th of November. Interesting insights on sustainable entrepreneurship were provided by sustainable startups like Kleiderrebell and Nomoo.

Furthermore, the CSR Student team organized the “Mobile Week” in cooperation with Green2B. By collecting old cell phones and recycling them in a sustainable manner, the startup contributes to the avoidance of E-Waste. The CSR Student Team brought Green2B and a collection box to CBS in order to raise awareness of the topic of E-waste and to encourage students to donate their old mobile phones. The revenues were donated to the GLS Treuhand and the BKU. The GLS Treuhand is a partner of the GLS bank, the first green bank. It supports various projects in the fields of education, development, health, agriculture and renewable energies. The BKU is a local institution which aims to develop young talents.

Sustainability Day 2017 at CBS

April 27th, 2017: At the 2017 Sustainability Day students from the Cologne Business School were invited to actively engage with the Center for Advanced Sustainable Management and to also take the opportunity to participate in guest lectures given by business professionals. Guest lectures were held by representatives of Dibella, BASF, and TÜV Rheinland on the topic of CSR in the corporate sector.

The CSR Student Team organized different activities to raise awareness regarding one’s carbon footprint and how one can go about measuring it in a playful manner. Participants received waste baskets to properly separating trash and were asked to propose ideas that would help CBS to become more sustainable. Additionally, Philipp Meyer from Sneep, a student network for business ethics, gave a presentation about his organization and its activities.

Students interested in Sustainable Entrepreneurship were able to get a tour of the regional startup incubator, STARTPLATZ. To end the tour, Anika Stuerenberg Herrera, a former CBS MBA student, held a presentation on “how to pitch my business idea” and invited students to create and exchange their own business ideas.

The 2017 Sustainability Day was extremely popular amongst students, CBS staff, professors and guests. Visitors were able to get a closer insight into the topic of CSR and sustainability and how it can be integrated into the corporate strategy.

Sustainability Day 2016 at CBS

The first Sustainability Day organized by CASM took place in March 2016 at CBS with the goal of raising students’ awareness with regard to sustainability and to give them the opportunity to actively engage sustainability at CBS. The program included a workshop with Interseroh, a consulting firm that specializes in implementing circular economy practices in both MNEs and SMEs. Students who participated in the day’s activities were also asked about how they envisioned recycling in 2050.

Within the scope of CASM’s Executive Masterclass Series, two well-know companies gave presentations in front of a large audience of interested students. Anne-Kathrin Laufmann presented the Bundesliga football club, SV Werder Bremen’s CSR management strategy. ALTO Verlag was represented by Elmar Thomassek who led an interesting and controversial discussion about the role of different media channels in the promotion of CSR.

After the talks, students had the opportunity to meet CBS alumni and learn about their professional perspectives in the field of CSR and sustainability, especially in startups with sustainable business models.

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