CREATING A GLOBAL COMMUNITY WITH THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY
Building off the back of a sustainability study tour, Cosaris transformed The American University’s learning experience to become a major collaboration project for students, businesses, and local communities alike. Incorporating site visits, impactful workshops, networking events, community outreach and sustainable innovations, the project enabled multi-disciplinary opportunities, a productive international network, and a collaborative community focused on environmental change.
The American University needed to enhance their MSc in Sustainability Management specifically with the capstone projects. Their aim was to engage with more innovative businesses and deliver more hands-on student experiences which had more of an impact for both, the students and the businesses they worked with and in a wider sense, for the world.
A BESPOKE SOLUTION
Cosaris undertook comprehensive research to establish the most impactful location for the projects, settling on Scandinavia as one of the leading areas in global sustainability. The initial program of courses featured a diverse range of activities and visits, all relevant to the students’ coursework – energy, waste, the circular economy, farming, retail, urban development. Following the series of successful student tours, the establishment connected with Cosaris to build additional programs involving students from multiple disciplines to enhance the initial courses. Cosaris recommended not simply to run more capstone projects but to drive more hands-on contributions for students and build an engaged community with the best sustainability-focused organisations in Europe.
“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.”
A 360º CONNECTION
Nelson Mandela said education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. At Cosaris we brought this idea to life by ensuring every single interaction students from The American University had on our study tour would have real world impact and drive the sustainability landscape forward.
By helping them overcome real-life business challenges, the students had a genuine impact on all their 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.
David L Bartlett, Professorial Lecturer and Program Director, The American University, said: “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.”
Innovation pushes our world forward and how better to drive innovation than connect a new generation of experts with companies redefining how the world works? Our aim was to institutionalise how cross-pollination of ideas can benefit all stakeholders in a project like this.
Cosaris undertook detailed research and networking to ensure every business we worked with had a clear need which would provide meaningful collaboration for the students. This is different to normal Capstones and provided our students with a unique opportunity to work on genuine challenges in the industry relating to sustainability, environmentalism, and positive change.
Through our research, Cosaris was able to determine some of the organisations were experiencing roadblocks in terms of internal communication and so needed outside points of view to challenge their conceptions. They benefited from the perspective of people outside their industry boundaries – young, innovative minds not yet captured within professional boxes. The students and recipient companies reaped mutual rewards from the experience.
In addition to the student and organisations working together, we also laid the groundwork for a self-sustaining, collaborative network of local and global people to share ideas, highlight best practices and cooperate on implementing sustainably-focused innovations for the entire world.
At Cosaris we believe if we engage every stakeholder, both inside and outside an organisation’s network, then the benefits are endless. Whether it’s productivity, retention, economic or sustainability, increasing engagement impacts everything.
For the American University, one key aspect of what set this project apart was the unique and inspirational organisations we connected with which made all the difference. From major brands like Ericsson and ClimaCheck to boundary-pushing start-ups like Vélosophy or Swegreen, every new partnership we forged was excited to support, learn from and collaborate with the university and its students.
The engagement extended far beyond just the study tour with our network connecting with us to add stronger connections and deliver more impactful learning experiences as the tour progressed. Following the project, all the business organisations, local community partners and even the students remained engaged and reached out to Cosaris and the network as a whole to continue the discussions, offer new opportunities and collaborate on ongoing change.
Several students gained internships and other opportunities through this project and the benefits for everyone involved have continued to provide productive collaborations and engaged partnerships.
Everything we do is about experiences and how we react to those, sets Cosaris apart. For the American University we delivered a full suite of exciting, game-changing experiences for the students, faculty and partnering organisations which opened people’s eyes to why sustainability is more than just a trend.
From sightseeing, group dinners, company and facility visits and workshops through to expert talks, hands-on projects and networking events with local Scandinavian businesses, this tour was a festival of ideas and possibilities. Every single experience was designed to provide a hands-on challenge for the students with real learning opportunities at each stage and for the partnering organisations, every experience ensured valuable, insightful impact for their brand and sustainability departments.
Leah Garden, Student, The American University, said: “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.”
In terms of reacting to experiences, one year saw the study tour impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, with international students from differing countries of origin seeing lockdowns implemented just days prior to the event taking place.
The American University was forced to cancel the in-person tour on short notice but six of its students were already en-route or in Stockholm. Our team supported the six students by flying to assist them and ensuring we still maintained facility visits, presentations and more in-line with safety measures at the time.
In addition to managing and researching the entire project, scheduling and running virtual meetings, interim and final presentations and project handovers, Cosaris also reacted and implemented new hybrid learning events to ensure those not able to attend still benefitted from the learning and networking we had provided.
We provided tech and on-the-ground support to broadcast all the content and experiences to those not able to attend, ensuring they could engage with businesses and provide their insights and take part in any presentations and workshops. With flexibility from all stakeholders, we were still able to create educational and impactful experiences delivering high-impact projects via hybrid events and an engaged network.
Cosaris ensured that even when the world stops, we can still connect people and ideas through shared experiences.