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“Whole Person Learning enabled us not only to learn a lot about corporate responsibility, we discovered many things about us as a class and us as individuals – although we as a group have already spent two years together. Claire, John and Chris did a great job in literally forcing us to think beyond the horizons of our daily life.”Moritz Goeldner, Student
Northern Institute of Technology Management
In June 2011 co-director Claire Maxwell and core associates John Gray and Chris Taylor delivered a workshop on Corporate Responsibility at the Northern Institute of Technology Management (NIT), part of Hamburg University of Technology, one of Germany’s leading universities.
This workshop was the culmination of pioneering and collaborative working between Claire Maxwell of the Oasis School of Human Relations and Dr Christoph Jermann from NIT, to create a prototype workshop, exploring the extent to which it was possible to bring an integrated Whole Person Learning approach into an academic environment with a group of engineering students.
Students at the institute take an MSc in Engineering and a concurrent MBA or Master’s in Technology Management. This attracts high performing students who want to enter the job market early. There are approximately 600 applications for each of the 30 places available each year. In its first ten years, 335 students from 53 countries have been admitted to the programme.
International companies frequently recruit graduates, finding that Asian or South American students educated in Europe have more success heading up projects in their home countries than Europeans sent to these countries without an adequate understanding of the cultural background or language skills.
The three-day workshop led by Oasis gave students the opportunity to understand the conceptual frameworks behind globally responsible leadership and gave an opportunity for students to develop a deeper and more meaningful relationship to each other, to the world of corporate responsibility and to their own relationship to being responsible. It was this latter element which encouraged the students to identify and agree next steps.
Claire said: “It was a privilege to work with Christoph Jermann and within an academic institution that both recognises and is willing to act on the fact that the leaders of the future need to develop an understanding of the impact that they, and the organisations they will be influencing, have on people and planet.”
Christoph said: “It was an inspiring experience to sit down with Claire and design a workshop with enough Whole Person Learning elements on the one hand and enough Globally Responsible Leadership content and academic rigor on the other hand to satisfy both sides. The result was challenging new type of MBA course for our students, who in many cases very much appreciated this venture, and a promising model that could be tested by other business schools.”
The team from Oasis used a Whole Person Learning approach to introduce the business case for corporate responsibility, to encourage the students to think globally – about the world, future generations, and their own attitudes and behaviour – and to help them realise their own power to affect the world.
Chris said: “The student group was so diverse, with so many cultures and different experiences. That helped the content because they always had something to say but from very different points of view.”
John added: “This enabled us to explore very different approaches to power, responsibility and authority, all issues that are critical to effective and authentic implementation of corporate responsibility and the ability to influence and engage.”
And Sujaritha Vettukadu from India added: “It was great to know that we were not alone in being socially responsible and that there were many people, including my own classmates, and organisations, who shared similar feelings, thought very deeply about it and also, more importantly, took actions. The seminar fired the passion in each one of us, over and above our individual feelings and thoughts, by combining education and thought-provoking discussions, empowering us to incorporate these ideas in our daily life.”
In the future NIT and Oasis will consider how to invest more time into GRP within the constraints of the curriculum and how to extend the process and use of Whole Person Learning across more of the programme.