Introducing International Sustainability Management

An interview with André Reichel, Professor of Critical Management and Sustainable Development, about his bachelor study program International Sustainability Management here at Karlshochschule International University.

Can you describe your International Sustainability Management program in three hashtags?

Now the longer version. What is International Sustainability Management all about?
The study program in International Sustainability Management is providing the knowledge, understanding and critical reflection necessary to successfully manage change in business and society towards more sustainability. Sustainability is understood as a cultural process leading to prosperity for all while ensuring the well being of our natural and social environments. Today the present development of global affairs is unsustainable, given global climate change propelled by greenhouse gas emissions from heavily carbon-based production and consumption activities, the overuse of natural resources due to shorter product lifecycles fostering an increasing consumerist culture in our throwaway society, and the exclusion of people from productive activities due to higher automation and digitization in all parts of a company’s value chain – not to speak of the lack of fundamental services for the World’s poorest.

To tackle these challenges and move business and society towards more sustainability, the need for strategic minded managers with the ability to proactively redesign and create new business models balancing planet, people and profit is increasing dramatically. International Sustainability Management students will become these type of change managers and shape the future of the green economy – be it as a CSR manager in a multinational company, a sustainability consultant working in diverse fields from automotive to chemicals to consumer products, a marketing professional for greening products and consumer behavior, a creative start-up entrepreneur with new social and ecological solutions or outside of business as advisors for governmental and international institutions as well as managing non-profit organizations in the NGO sector.

What is so special about studying International Sustainability Management at Karlshochschule?
At Karls we view management from a culturalist and constructivist standpoint. Nothing in management and the field of business can be understood without a deep knowledge and appreciation of the underlying cultural currents. Management is first and foremost a cultural activity, based on culture and at the same time changing the culture. Especially when dealing with such a fundamental challenge as sustainability, a culturally sensible management perspective is something unique to your studies at Karlshochschule. Sustainability in this program is not viewed as a Western concept, but constructed as a truly global approach with multiple perspectives from the global North and South. This is reflected in the study program with its links to cultural area studies and its connections with practical elements like corporate projects and your internship, as well as in the selection of our partner universities for your studies abroad. At the same time you will find our Karls to be a place with a great sense of collegiality between staff and students, a diverse family of learners and teachers that are united by their curiosity to know more and get at the heart of current issues in business and society.

What is the most interesting module in your point of view?
There is not one single module I would like to highlight, because I cannot possibly make that selection given the different nature of the modules and their overall high quality. What is most interesting probably is the entire curriculum structure and how the different modules in International Sustainability Management relate to each other. You will start slowly with some basic modules on the evolution of the global economy and its sustainable (and unsustainable) development. Then you progress to more detailed questions on lifecycle management, circular economy, sustainable finance, social entrepreneurship, sustainable consumption and so forth. Everything in the curriculum is tailored to giving you the best background understanding of current and future challenges in the transformation to a more sustainable economy and society.

How about my job opportunities after my graduation?
After three years at Karls with International Sustainability Management you will have plenty of opportunities to pursue your career. Working in CSR, Marketing or Strategy and Business Development departments in multinational companies as well as big consultancies are one path you might wish to follow. Another path might be  working for government agencies and ministries dealing with environmental, consumer, development and economic issues, both on the national as well as on the supra-national level. Of course, you can also continue with a master program in sustainability, leadership, marketing or strategy and deepen your knowledge. Or why not do your own thing, work in the non-governmental sector with NGOs or start your own business as an ecopreneur or social entrepreneur? Whatever path you might want to choose, here at Karls we will help you the best we can with choosing interesting partner universities and internships to focus on your career options.

Who should apply for the program? What kind of background do applicants need?
Anyone with a deep desire to unlock the hidden potential of sustainability for business in order to overcome the present state of unsustainability. We are looking for curious students willing to change the world but also willing to challenge their own worldviews – to learn more and realize their full potential. International Sustainability Management is about understanding the interrelations of business, globalization, consumption, culture, the natural environment and society. If you want to get really deep into these questions, you are at the right place at Karlshochschule.

More information about the bachelor study program on International Sustainability Management can be found at 

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