Help me! What’s the role of business in #theBIGshift?

Earlier this year, I became a Policy Fellow at Centre for Science and Policy in Cambridge, which means I now have two years to investigate the question: what is the role of business in the transition to a global sustainable economy? But I want to go further and use the fellowship as a vehicle to enable action. Can you help?

Serendipity is a wonderful thing. On the first day of 2014, I was recovering from a New Year’s party with friends from university. One person there is now the Director of the Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP) at Cambridge. He told us about the fellowships he ran, which offered fellows two years to investigate a big, open question with support from academics and others. My ears pricked up; for a year I’d been wondering about a big – really big – open question on business and sustainability. Could the fellowship be a chance to find the time to go deeper?

Fast forward to March, and I got my chance to find out. I applied and got the gig as a Policy Fellow. (The selection process didn’t involve my friend, by the way.)

So, now comes the hard part, starting with how to answer the question above. Let’s face it,  trying to determine the role business has in the transition to a global sustainable economy is a challenge all by itself. But I don’t want this to be just an academic endeavour that I find fascinating. So, the second thing is using the fellowship as vehicle to create change directly, and enable businesses to play their part themselves.

My first visit to Cambridge is almost upon me (15-17 May). I’m sure I’ll have fascinating and exciting conversations with a whole host of academics; that part of the process is straightforward, in the sense that CSaP are used to connecting people with big questions to academics who have interesting answers. (I’m sure that the content I get will not be straightforward.)

Right now I’m excited by the second thing. I’m thinking about how to use the fellowship as a means to enable change. I’m in a planning phase, trying to scope out what to do, with whom, and when.

There are some givens. I’m Director of Sustainable Business at one of the world-leading organisations in the domain. So, there will be ways Forum events and projects play their part. But that’s not all there is.

And that’s where, I hope, you come in. My working hypothesis is that the way the fellowship can create change is by galvanising and engaging interested people. So, some questions:

  1. If you were in my position, what would you do to use the fellowship as a change vehicle?
  2. What would you like to do together, that would accelerate change?
  3. What questions would you like me to ask of the various academics I’ll be speaking with?
  4. What would you find exciting in this space? What would you want to engage with?

Later this month I’ll have some specific content-led questions for you. If you want to influence my methods, who I speak with, and what I try to achieve – well, now is the time to get in touch.

This post first appeared on the Forum for the Future website.



3 thoughts on “Help me! What’s the role of business in #theBIGshift?

  1. Pingback: Role of business in #theBIGshift: 1. starting tomorrow… [video] | business and sustainability – a work-in-progress

  2. Pingback: Video diaries of my first policy fellowship visit | business and sustainability – a work-in-progress

  3. Pingback: Exploring how we can create systemic change in business for a sustainable future (OR what I’ll be doing on my sabbatical) | business and sustainability – a work-in-progress

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