Texas A&M University Central Texas Partners with The One Planet Education Network (OPEN) to Offer a Graduate Degree in One Planet Leadership

Professor Jody Fry, founder of IISL, has seen trends come and go. But, as a leadership educator, scholar, coach, and consultant, he knows how to recognize an opportunity when he sees one. So, in the summer of 2015, when a colleague offered him the opportunity to present his work on maximizing the triple bottom line through spiritual leadership to further IISL’s vision of co-creating a conscious, sustainable world that works for everyone, at a conference  on ethical and spiritual leadership at  Exeter University in the United Kingdom, he graciously accepted the invitation. While there Dr. Fry was introduced to Exeter’s One Planet MBA, a program supported by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), designed to incorporate the principles of sustainability and business practice, long thought to be in diametrical opposition to each other.

WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. As the 2016 Living Planet Report demonstrates, the challenges that the global environment is facing today are too big, too interconnected and too urgent for any one organization to solve alone. Recognizing the scale and complexity of the challenges, WWF has chosen to engage in collaborative and collective action with universities, businesses, investors, consumers, governments and other civil society organizations to drive positive change.

WWF’s principles of sustainability form the core of Exeter’s One Planet MBA. Its purpose is to demonstrate how academia, civil society and business can partner and collaborate to improve our environmental stewardship of the Earth and the sustainable management of its natural resources. Such expertise is of crucial importance to tackling our global challenges and bringing our societies back from irreversible tipping-points through ethical leadership.

When he returned Jody began to share this idea with TAMUCT’s Dean Larry Garner and the College of Business Administration (COBA) faculty.  They decided to explore the possibility incorporating further awareness of sustainability and good business practices within COBA, as this offered an extraordinary opportunity for furthering the state’s mandate that the fledgling university should be a prototype for 21st century education in the state of Texas.

“The college had a retreat scheduled in the Fall of 2015 and we decided  to invite Dr. Jonathon Gossling, a founding faculty member affiliated with the Exeter business program, to share his experience of how Exerter’s progam came into being.” Out of this meeting came a consensus that this is something the TAMUCT College of Business Administration should explore as it fit within our mission of being “A regional university with a global footprint.”

After his visit, Jonathan partnered with other principals to create, again with the support of the World Wildlife foundation, the One Planet Educational Network or OPEN (https://oneplanetbusiness.org/ ). As a first step, Jonathon hired Tony Cooke as OPEN’s CEO. Tony is a serial social entrepreneur who has dedicated his career to the sustainable business agenda and brings particular expertise in planning and leading complex multi-stakeholder partnerships, having worked internationally over many years with leading organisations across a variety of sectors to develop strategies for sustainable futures.

This was followed by an invitation to be a guest speaker at the COBA faculty Fall  2016 retreat, where he further briefed the COBA faculty on OPEN’s aims, foundational principles, and vision for how the network could further these. Built upon a leading enterprise-grade open innovation platform, OPEN is designed to enable educators, learners and businesses to collaborate around innovation challenges for accelerating sustainable business teaching, research and practice.

Subsequently the faculty approved curriculum changes and received university approval to launch its MS One Planet Leadership progam in Fall 2018, with a primary focus on OPEN’s One Planet Business Education Framework made up of eight key principles: (1) Recognize that we live and do business on One Plant, (2)  Put value, ethics, and responsibility at the core, (3) Embrace a systems approach, (4) Equip students with relevant skills and knowledge, (5) Contribute to the world by aligning sustainable development goals, (6) Offer an environment and experience conducive to kearning, (7) Develop current and future business leaders, and (8) Lead by example.

This summer, in New York City,  the One Planet Education Network was officially launched at the United Nations sponsored International PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education) conference with ceremonies attended by Founding Member institutions.


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