As most of you know, I'm studying for a Masters in Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability at the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden this year. The programme was founded by Karl Hendrik Robert (founder of The Natural Step) and Goran Broman, and is in its second year. The year will focus on leadership, management and communication skills as well as technical issues in sustainability. The first half of the year consists of course work, lectures, group and individual projects, etc. and the second half will be a real-world thesis project.
I have put together this email list of friends, family and colleagues that I thought might be interested in hearing about the programme and the projects we are going to undertake. I've taken the liberty of adding some who haven't asked for info, so if anyone would rather not receive these updates for whatever reason, please tell me at any time and I'll take you off the list and promise not to be offended in any way. I'm looking at this as a journal and record for my own benefit as much as a way to share with other people and promote dialogue on the subject, so please feel free to ask questions, add comments, etc.
As this first email is mainly an introduction, I'll keep it brief and limit it to a quick comment on Karl Hendrick's first day of lectures, which we had Friday. He was an excellent and amusing speaker and essentially just recapped much of what is in his book, The Natural Step Story. Along with explaining the history and evolution of the organization (The Natural Step - "TNS") he walked through the basic framework for sustainability that they developed. It includes four principles that must be met in a sustainable society. They are to:
1) eliminate systematic increases in concentration of substances from the earth's crust in natural systems
2) eliminate systematic increases in concentrations of substances produced by society (i.e. compounds not found in nature) in natural systems
3) eliminate systematic physical degradation of nature through over-harvesting, introduciton and other forms of modification (i.e. actions that prevent natural systems from performing the services upon which we depend)
4) eliminate the systematic undermining of people's capacity to meet their needs
I've found these principles to provide an elegant, simple framework from which to approach sustainability issues and utilize other tools and concepts in sustainability (such as Life Cycle Analysis, Ecological footprinting, Natural Capitalism, Factor 10, ISO 14001, etc). They establish a launching point from which there is scientific consensus, and a sort of check-list, or lens to look through when organizations, businesses, gov'ts, etc make decisions. It also provides perspective that can be lost when things get bogged down in the "details" of individual issues and problems (ie, climate change, deforestation, declining fish stocks, ground water contamination, etc) which quickly become overwhelming when addressed individually.
More to follow, I'm going to shoot to put out a weekly update, but who knows as things get busy. On a more personal note, by the way, this place (Karlskrona Sweden) is beautiful and an absolute blast. Our group is very cool and international (us, canada, china, russia, nigeria, rwanda, costa rica, brazil, sweden, jordan, uae, pakistan, etc) and we've been having a great time so far. If you want more info on the programme or TNS, check out the websites: http://www.bth.se/tmslm and http://www.naturalstep.org/
Hope this finds you all well -- take care,