The Necessity for Holistic Education in Economics and Business that Prepares Young Leaders for Sustainable Leadership within the 21st Century

September 24, 2014

Saskia Troy (MSc.) is a business economist specialised in Global Business and Stakeholder Management and amongst others Regional Coordinator Europe and Chapter Leader Netherlands Children of the Earth (NGO of the United Nations) and she is a member of the Working Group Sustainable Finance (Changing Finance, Financing Change) of the UNEP/World Resources Institute in Washington.

“The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers and lovers of all kinds”
Dalai Lama

Due to the financial crisis, scandals and corrupt behavior in financial markets within the recent past there’s an increased interest in ethical behavior and the development of sustainable leadership within society. For instance, numerous funds have built a competitive edge by incorporating a “social responsibility” agenda within their mission statement. In addition, investors have made efforts to uphold their moral values by for example, rejecting companies involved in the tobacco, illegal weapon industry or investing in undemocratic regimes. Nevertheless, current business literature reveals many cases of green washing of the Corporate Social Responsibility policies of especially large multinational companies.

It has aroused a global debate on how to marry sustainable leadership with financial profit. This debate calls for a revised (business) education that impels and empowers young people to find solutions on how to bridge business strategy with the needs of society and the environment.

Within sustainable learning the framework of scholars within economics and business might be challenged by the holistic learning paradigm. Holism taught within economics and business studies affirms the inherent interdependence of evolving theory, research and practices. It has been rooted in the assumption that the universe is an integrated whole in which everything is connected. This assumption of wholeness and unity is in direct opposition to the paradigm of separation and fragmentation that prevails in the contemporary world.

Holism corrects the imbalances that are caused by reductionist approaches through its emphasis on and expanded conception of science and human possibility. University students that have been educated in a holistic, conscious and spiritual way are trained and educated for the establishment of justice, peace and sustainable development within economics and business, as well as society as a whole. Nevertheless, they also need to be taught the skills to empower themselves, form global movements, participate within society and make sure their voices are being heart while at the same time making society more transparent and democratic.

*For more information on holistic learning see the Global Alliance for Transforming Education (GATE) and the book “Conscious Education, The Bridge to Freedom” by Gang, Meyerhof and Mayer (1992)

This article was published on 21st of September on the International Day of Peace in Global Education Magazine.

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