The American University
Established in 1892, The American University is a student-centred research institution in Washington DC.
It has an enviable reputation for creating meaningful change in the world. Alumni, faculty and staff have included two Pulitzer Prize winners, two Nobel Prize winners, one United States Senator, 25 United States Representatives, 18 Ambassadors of the United States and several foreign heads of state.
The project had two parts. Firstly, the American University asked us to research and create a series of one-week European study tours to enhance their MSc in Sustainability Management.
The second part of the brief was a 5-month study program involving students from multiple disciplines. The students’ contribution would be entirely hands-on, working in close collaboration with the best sustainability-focused organisations in Europe.
Jolie M Roetter is the university’s Director of Global Learning and Programs
“We needed more than just a European-based logistics coordinator. We needed a skilled consultant with deep networks and the ability to source and develop meaningful academic experiences for our students.
Understanding the coordination between public and private is an extremely important part of this experience. ”
First, we needed to find a location for both projects. We chose Scandinavia because the area is a global leader in sustainability.
For the one-week study tour, we planned a diverse range of activities and visits, all relevant to the students’ coursework - energy, waste, the circular economy, farming, retail, urban development.
We organised everything - transport, accommodation, sightseeing, group dinners, company and facility visits, workshops, expert talks and networking events with local Scandanavian businesses.
Leah Garden was one of the students who took part:
“You’re never going to be able to have another experience like this. It made me understand exactly what I’m looking for post-graduation.”
When it came to the study program, we managed the entire project - identifying six organisations to act as project partners, scheduling and running virtual meetings, interim and final presentations, project handovers.
Both the tour and the study programs are ongoing projects with the American University. By taking students into the real world of sustainable business, their learning experience goes beyond the classroom.
Andrea Villagomez is one of the students who took part in the study program:
“The true value came from the practical hands-on experience. It really tested my leadership and communication skills, both of which are hugely valuable, not just in academic settings but in everyday life.”
By helping them overcome real-life business challenges, the students had a genuine impact on all six partner organisations. They helped redefine products and services, developed finance and funding strategies, identified strategic partners - and in the process, they became part of the organisations’ story and their work.
The organisations benefited from the perspective of people outside their industry boundaries - a new generation of experts not yet captured within professional boxes. Johannes Cullberg is CEO of Paradiset, one of the organisations which took part in the one-week study tour.
“Many organisations can benefit from a study tour visit. It broadens your horizons. It’s inspiring, it’s educational and it brings a new energy to the team.”
Swegreen is partnered with the American University as part of the study programs. Sepehr Mousavi is their Chief Innovation Officer and Sustainability Strategist.
“It was really enjoyable to have people from outside the bubble. They’re not coming from a niche background so they’re very open. They learn about the industry and then judge your ideas. That was really helpful.”
The students and recipient companies reaped mutual rewards from the experience. But, what about the university? David L Bartlett is Professorial Lecturer and Program Director.
“For the American University, the Scandinavian program has burnished our sustainability brand. It has enhanced our standing as a leader in sustainability among American colleges and universities.”
Jolie M Roetter added:
“In Cosaris, we have a trusted partner who adds incredible value to our degree program.”
Can your organisation benefit from hosting a study tour or becoming part of a study program? Or perhaps your university wants to create unique experiential learning for students. Get in touch with us here.