Embracing technology for sustainable education with Veronica Omeni 

Sustainable education

In response to the increasing awareness of environmental and social issues, business schools and graduate management programmes are reshaping their approaches – preparing future leaders to navigate in a world focused on sustainable development. 

According to the QS Employer Survey 2023, sustainability skills were found to be the fifth largest skills gap in Asia – with a 10% discrepancy between how employers view sustainability skills and how satisfied they are with graduates in this area.   

It’s clearly in the institution’s best interest to have an active and clear sustainability strategy – as the QS International Student Survey 2023 told us that 41% of prospective international students are actively researching universities’ sustainability efforts. 

Veronica Omeni explains how institutions can use technology to cultivate responsible leadership in the ever-changing business landscape – This follows her previous article which discussed how business schools can prepare ethical leaders, ready for the modern business world.

The virtues of virtual reality for sustainability education 

There are numerous advantages to using virtual reality (VR) for sustainability education in business schools and graduate management programmes – offering students an immersive learning environment within intricate sustainability scenarios presented in three dimensions. In a safe and controlled environment, students can make decisions with real-world consequences without taking risks.    

Bridging the gap between theory and practice, this innovative platform contributes to low-cost innovation by reducing the need for physical infrastructure, making sustainability education more affordable and accessible to a diverse range of students.  

Leveraging AI technology to advance sustainable leadership education 

When used correctly, AI technology can support business schools in effectively teaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and sustainability as a whole, to the leaders of tomorrow. 

AI plays a pivotal role in enhancing sustainability education through various means: 

  1. It customises learning pathways by analysing individual students’ learning styles and preferences, ensuring engaging and effective educational content. 
  2. It supports data-driven decision-making by assisting educators and students in making informed choices regarding sustainability initiatives and identifying areas for improvement. 
  3. AI-powered chatbots provide instant support and guidance to students, offering answers to questions and valuable resources related to sustainability education. 
  1. AI contributes to interactive and gamified learning experiences, making sustainability education informative and enjoyable. 
  2. It leverages predictive analytics to assess student performance, identify those in need of additional support, and enable initiative-taking interventions by educators to promote academic growth. 
  3. AI offers valuable tools to enhance the effective teaching of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Examples of AI applications include text and content analysis – enabling the extraction of vital information from extensive textual sources like research papers and news articles. 

AI-driven Virtual Reality offers immersive sustainability scenarios – allowing students to experience the consequences of their decisions within realistic environments. 

  • It provides hands-on simulations within virtual ecosystems and communities – enabling students to experiment with various sustainability strategies and gain valuable experience. 
  • AI-powered VR platforms facilitate global interaction – enabling students worldwide to collaborate on sustainability projects and gain a broader perspective. 
  • AI-driven VR presents a cost-effective means of delivering high-quality sustainability education – reducing the reliance on physical resources and enhancing accessibility. 

A map towards sustainability: examples of best practice 

Institutions like IE University are at the forefront of this transformative wave – pioneering the application of extended reality (XR) technologies – which encompass virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR) and augmented reality (AR). Students can explore and acquire new skills through immersive experiences through this innovative approach across various programmes. As IE University grows in its commitment to virtual reality, it plays a pivotal role in preparing students for the evolving digital landscape. 

ESSEC Business School is an example of how educational institutions are redefining the educational experience, infusing sustainability into every facet of their programmes. ESSEC’s Global MBA programme embraces sustainability as an ethos that permeates the institution, harnessing digital technology and virtual reality to facilitate sustainability.  

The University of Reading and Henley Business School are committed to fostering research into Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and teaching business leaders how to utilise sustainability data to enhance their organisations. One example of this commitment is the short course they offer on “Climate Intelligence: Using Climate Data to Improve Business Decision-Making.” This course empowers participants to leverage climate data, focusing on building climate resilience within businesses. Additionally, the Centre for Business Ethics and Sustainability (CBES) at the University of Reading emphasises addressing the sustainability crisis – promoting ethical and sustainable economies and organisations, mitigating climate and environmental challenges, and fostering personal growth and well-being. 

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