Having attended all the lectures on my first and second semester, I would say that Sustainability and Social Responsibility course was definitely my favourite course, even though I enjoyed all of my other courses. To be honest, I was not the kind of person who cared so much about the future of our beloved planet, not even thinking of doing business that related to sustainability. However, this particular 10-week course at Alliance MBS completely changed my mind. It changed everything from the way I value businesses, choosing future career path and coming up with entrepreneurial ideas to even simple things in life like using reusable bottles and buying clothes.
Simply speaking, we are the last generation that can still save the world from doom, as reported by WWF's Living Planet Report in 2018. The world's most powerful countries had also joined hands to slow down global warming, following the 2015 Paris Agreement to hold the increase of average global temperature below 2°C. These issues are very pressing and urgent, and my eyes were opened for the first time through this lecture.
Some people see that making money and preserving the environment are two completely different things. However, our lecturer Dr. Niesten showed us that it is actually highly possible to come up with business models that give positive environmental and social impacts while also having good financial performances. Some of world's famous companies like Tesla, Starbucks and Unilever are already doing this, converting consumer's devalue into value and through value creation and capture – which I find very interesting.
Aside from the business stuff, the course also showed me that we can help to slow down global warming by being more aware of the negative aspects of our action, thus changing our lifestyle. For example, when we buy a water bottle we only pay for the value that we get, which is the water and the plastic bottle production. However, who is paying the price for the plastic waste and the contamination it creates after we finished with it? Obviously, there is an expensive price-tag to eliminate the plastic bottle after use, which is called the negative externalities, but it is not us who paying for it – it is the generation after us and they are paying a very high price for it. The concept of Life-Cycle analysis that was taught during the lecture also helped me understand why changing my lifestyle can give impacts to the environment – such as opting for slow-moving fashion style which can reduce carbon footprint and waste quite significantly.
In the end, this course had completely changed my way of thinking and lifestyle. By doing simple small things mentioned above, we might not single-handedly save the world through our acts instantly. nevertheless, it's the collective effort that matters to make a real difference – as said by a famous Japanese writer, "Individually we are a drop, together we are an ocean."