Business schools must teach climate disobedience

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Activist group Just Stop Oil has been regularly appearing in UK news headlines in recent days after many disruptive and controversial protests, including: blocking traffic, spray orange paint on government buildings When glue On Famous Artwork – Or Paint Over Them soup.

Its aim is to force the government to terminate all new licenses and consents for fossil fuel exploration, development and production in the UK.In light of the views of the International Panel on Climate Change, climate scenarios, we most need to Halve global emissions by 2030.

Unsurprisingly, the group’s approach drew widespread criticism, prompting the government to make an announcement. Controversial New Force for the police to quell the protests before chaos begins. But whatever your view of the Just Stop Oil methodologies, there is no denying that they have transformed climate change from an abstract social problem to a real and felt one, prompting debate and demand for solutions. .

This is all the more necessary as progress has been made towards meeting the IPCC’s goals. very slow So far. This is especially true in the business world. Companies of all sizes have publicly announced pledges to become ‘climate neutral’, ‘net zero’ or even ‘carbon restorative’.but very Few corporate climate pledges backed by viable plans to achieve them.

Business education urgently needs to explore how students can learn from such radical climate movements and challenge problematic mainstream management practices. Apart from working with students through classic cases of peaceful civil disobedience, from Gandhi to Rosa Parks, we examine more recent cases in the context of business.A clear example is Amazon Global Employee Strike In 2019, the company was forced to end its inaction on climate change.

Another promising educational approach is whistleblowing as an essential practice for responsible management. A strikingly powerful example is Desiree Wixtler caseShe was laid off from her job as Group Sustainability Officer at asset management firm DWS. Greenwashing practices.

Naturally, our duty of care to our students requires that we actively engage with the potential consequences of disobedience in management. The educator said in her 2017 article in Mary Gentile,give voice to values‘ will give students a voice, leading up to Philip Malm’s 2021 book. how to blow up a pipeline, Explore the role sabotage plays in protest movements.

By incorporating this radical element into your syllabus, you can begin to encourage students to question the systems and structures (including educational structures) that trap us in our current environmental problems. Business education is built on many of the assumptions taken for granted that have contributed to a business culture that contributes to the continued deterioration of climate change. One such assumption is that growth is simultaneously limitless, essential, and a solution to social problems. Businesses and governments alike seek consistent economic growth, but in a world of finite resources, this is no easy task. not a sustainable practiceEducators dismantle the historical background that led to this obsession with growth andresponsible stagnationThis includes decoupling innovation from the engine of economic growth.

We also need to question not only assumptions about management practices, but the very role of managers themselves. Critics of such an approach might argue that it is the role of a responsible manager to listen to and act on the concerns of subordinates, rather than incite rebellious behavior. I can’t. however, times of great crisis, even managers need to focus on their business management role in responding to these crises. And even business schools need to push this agenda.

This position may cause backlash among some in academia. Indeed, such “radical” teachings are often branded controversial. But we can only achieve the quality and scale of change we need if we allow students to pursue radical alternatives whenever they need to.

Oliver Laasch is a Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship. Alliance Manchester Business School He is also the founder of the independent Responsibility Management Education Center.

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