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Education

Tokyo MBA school focuses on sustainability

Shizenkan University veers away from teaching capitalist model

Students are encouraged to think like chief sustainability officers to come up with solutions to current problems. (Photo courtesy of Shizenkan University)

TOKYO -- Tokyo's Shizenkan University, a graduate school, is opening a Center for Sustainability and Innovation after August this year.

The business-focused college will offer two courses targeting executives in the private and public sectors. One of the courses is aimed at teaching large-scale environmental strategies that will fall in line with government policies and current thinking. Another course targets millennials who are more socially conscious, aiming to inspire intrapreneurship.

"True sustainability will not be achieved in the current shareholder-first capitalism system," said Peter David Pedersen, a professor and leader of the new center. "More Japanese companies will need to develop human resources who can combine business and sustainability."

Pedersen had previously worked as a consultant drawing up sustainability strategies for Japanese multinational companies such as Nissan Motor and Hitachi.

While large Western companies, such as Unilever and L'Oreal, have long put in place sustainability leaders in their organizations, Nissan Motor only appointed its first chief sustainability officer in 2016.

Pedersen said: "Adding that position in Asian companies will be common soon and having knowledge on sustainability became one of the business skills that people need to gain."

Shizenkan was founded in 2018 focusing on teaching innovative management. The school offers a masters in business administration in design and leadership for societal innovation.

Unlike business schools around the globe that teach based on a capitalist model, Shizenkan is veering away from a shareholder-centered system. Shizenkan is focusing on its cultural roots such as the idea of kyosei, the Japanese word for "living and working together for the common good."

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