Strategic collaboration between the THUAS’ MBA Programme and Mission Zero

The MBA programme at The Hague University of Applied Sciences distinguishes itself with its strong focus on sustainability, responsibility, and social entrepreneurship, as well as personal leadership development and applied research. Collaboration with educational programmes is a priority for Mission Zero in the endeavour to enmesh knowledge of sustainability into the fiber of education at THUAS.

The sustainable ambitions of the MBA programme in collaboration with Mission Zero were discussed in a conversation with Manon Pieper, and Marysia Piësla, the current and future programme managers of the MBA programme.

Manon Pieper and Marysia Piësla

Manon Pieper has been the programme manager of the THUAS’ MBA program since the summer of 2017. Manon got her doctorate of Business Administration in 2020, and her research was about leadership development and action research. She has also been a researcher at Mission Zero for a few years and contributes knowledge of action research and research methodologies to the centre. Manon lent her voice to Mission Zero’s podcast, Wasted Tales, where she took on the character of Cleo, a concept store. 

Marysia Piësla, programme manager of the MBA as of spring 2021, has a background in law. She started in the education sector as a company secretary at Hotelschool The Hague 10 years ago, where she worked on policy issues concerning education. After a few years she joined THUAS in an operational position and became a policy advisor for The Hague Graduate School. Next to this, she works in a renewable energy company and is responsible for their business development in Poland.

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Sustainable vision for the MBA, and the transformation of the programme according to that vision

The sustainable vision for the MBA programme developed in line with global trends in terms of business and management. After the program’s last accreditation in 2014, a global business environment programme was adopted, which was an awareness programme focused on reporting sustainable developments. 

As the area of sustainability developed in the market, students increasingly requested this to be a part of their education. Consequently, a new module called CSR and social entrepreneurship was introduced as a core part of the programme in 2018. The program underwent a further curriculum change in 2020, which introduced blended education, larger modules, and learning communities. This helped to integrate topics of sustainability and circular business. The next step for the program is a full collaboration with Mission Zero. The vision is to make sure sustainability topics are part of the DNA of the MBA programme, rather than an addition.

Upcoming collaboration between Mission Zero and the MBA programme

Several initiatives are being developed for Mission Zero to collaborate with the MBA programme. On July 7th, a teacher’s day is being organized with the theme “Education as Regeneration”. This theme aims to instill the fact that sustainability is an inherent part of education, as education has an impact on the world. It will build on the Berlin declaration of UNESCO (2021), which calls for increased ecological and relational approaches to education. The focus of this declaration is to nurture action competence by linking everyday wicked problems and by inviting a multiplicity of learning. 

A ‘menu’ is also being developed for MBA staff. This focuses on key literature and materials related to sustainability and the different components of an MBA, such as finance, strategy, and learning & development. The menu will also include case materials, pedagogical materials, and potential exercises that combine eco-subjectification, eco-qualification, and eco-socialisation to empower the development of future students. This menu is a tool which will transform existing courses pedagogically and content-wise, to be more in line with life-affirming education. 

For the students a ‘tasting platter’ will be developed, which will provide a variety of possibilities to get engaged with Mission Zero activities. This will already be offered to MBA students starting September 1st  2021 during a kick-off event. 

Next year, the aim is to develop, alongside the fundamental MBA programme, a top-up programme focused on circular business. The aim is to launch this programme in September 2022.

The value of collaboration with Mission Zero for the MBA programme

The MBA has already started the transition to becoming more sustainability focused. Many MBA students work, and often hold management positions within multinationals where they can execute change. As we are engaging with a societal transition towards more sustainable futures, many more companies will find themselves needing to transform rapidly. The challenges that these future leaders face require different skills, capacities and abilities than what we have seen in the past. 

If we can enrich the current fundamental MBA program with a top-up that focusses on nurturing such capacities, it would help students to gain these type of new leadership skills and become the next generation of change agents. For example, topics such as doughnut economics, planetary boundaries and biomimicry can be included in the learning communities, thesis projects etc. These opportunities can help them to co-create knowledge with other students, lecturers, and researchers within Mission Zero. It can be a way for students to contribute to a better, more fair and more sustainable world. 

For more information about the MBA program, please check the website.