Immersive Experiential Learning for Sustainability

A recent article in Guardian Sustainable Business explores whether putting business managers directly into the real world where the masses are battling social and environmental issues on a daily basis, can make them more sensitive to the impacts of business activities. Can trips to slums and landfills make them realize the magnitude and severity of global problems? While the skeptics believe that to the inveterate businessmen, such journeys may be nothing more than “corporate tourism” or “poverty porn”, most sustainability trainers believe that such experiences can indeed lead to the “epiphany moment”. In fact, the article cites cases where business leaders have had such tranformational experiences and have gone on to change how they do business.

Indeed management education and consequentially the corporate world has been far separated from the realities of their not-so-immediate stakeholders – the struggling masses, the communities who directly depend on ecosystems for their sustenance, the workers in the unorganized sector, the grassroots civil society. An important job of sustainability training is to bring business managers face to face with the stark realities of global social and environmental challenges so that businesses cease to function in swanky sanitized ivory towers and be more integrated with the world they directly depend on for natural and human capital. Immersive experiential learning holds a definite promise!