(List #93) Scaling Up

Diversity, design jams, transformative power, three minute thesis and an energy atlas.

(List #93) Scaling Up
Photo by Josue Aguazia / Unsplash

While I know many of you have had enough of the heat, down here it’s winter, and as all the rain it brings is slowly passing, I can already see signs of spring.  I started my Monday morning, as I usually do, going through management education news to see what inspired me for this morning’s List. One thing that struck me is how many incredible programmes there are now for students that are focused on sustainability in a relevant and business focused way. However, when I dig into things further, so many of these programmes are still electives, outside the main curriculum and only reach relatively small numbers of students at a time.

Your midyear challenge is to scale up. I’ve been following the work of a lot of you who are subscribed to my list and am amazed at the programmes you have put together. But not enough students are getting them. How can you reach more, if not all students? How do you go mainstream?

YOUR TURN: I’d love to hear your examples of how you scaled up. Please send them over and I’ll feature them here. What challenges did you face? Were you successful? In what way?


ICN Business School in France has been offering a 2.5 day, in-class elective for the past two years focused on helping students to develop a clear understanding of what diversity means in the context of companies. This includes recognizing and appreciating differences in areas such as “gender, age, sexual orientation, handicaps, cultural backgrounds and ethnicity”.  The elective also challenges the students by making them aware of their own unconscious biases and identifying those commonly found in organizations. Using stakeholder testimonials from French telecoms company ORANGE and NGO FACE Vosges, students learnt about the benefits of diversity in company performance. Following the success of this elective, it has recently been made an obligatory module in Organisational Design.


Students at the University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons in Switzerland had one day to address concrete challenges related to the SDGs and go through a design thinking process. The theme for the challenge was “How can we make our living world the most innovative-sustainable living world in the world” whereby the living would primarily refer to either the university or the company to which students have a connection.  Students formulated individual challenges, formed interest-based groups, developed possible solutions in teams, built prototypes and tested them before presenting them to fellow students.


Since 2010, almost 800 public libraries have closed in the United Kingdom. From 2016 to 2020, intensive work at Exeter Business School in collaboration with Libraries Unlimited, the Real Ideas Organisation, and Open Data Institute Devon has supported the emergence of Public Service Mutuals as a transformational new model for delivering resilient library services across England. The research focused on how libraries can learn to develop a better understanding of their ‘social value’ – the difference that libraries make to the people and communities they serve. This has stimulated and informed policy development and sustained accessibility to public library services.


Developed by the University of Queensland in Australia and now held at over 900 institutions across more than 80 countries around the world, Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is an annual competition open to PhD students. Their challenge is to summarize their 80,000 word PhD thesis into just 180 seconds in a way that can be understood by an intelligent audience with no background in the research area. This competition cultivates students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills.  You can watch some of the past winners here and the website provides resources and inspiration for students and schools interested in giving it a go.


Energy Innovation Atlas was launched by the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands as a platform to map innovations in the transitioning energy sector and aims to help societies deal with the many challenges in attaining sustainable energy supply. The platform includes case reports and video summaries created by students over the course of a master class on ‘Energy Transition and Innovation’. The map is being used both as an instructive tool for students and a repository of information for interested members of the public.