Campus - 27.06.2023 - 09:54 

HSG course on climate protection shows tangible results

In the “Managing Climate Solutions” course, HSG masters students develop entrepreneurial solutions to tackle climate change. The student's projects have concrete impacts: For example, they have resulted in an additional big PV system being built on the HSG campus this year. 

“To understand what is happening with climate change is not all that difficult. However, many students ask themselves how they themselves can be part of the solution”, says Rolf Wüstenhagen. He is HSG professor for management of renewable energies and in 2020, together with his team, launched the “Managing Climate Solutions” certificate (MaCS). As part of this, HSG Masters students develop entrepreneurial approaches in the fight against climate change. 

In addition to the classic imparting of knowledge, the specific experience of practical climate solutions forms a fixed component of the MaCS programme. On excursions into Eastern Switzerland, the students visit a wind power station, meet the operators of a solar-powered chair lift and learn at close hand about the important role forests and moors play in protecting our climate.

For Merla Kubli, assistant professor for Managing Climate Solutions, this natural experience is an important component of the programme: “Experiencing which effects climate change has already had in Switzerland, lending a hand with planting trees makes the abstract topic tangible for the students”. 

The certificate which was developed under the leadership of the School of Management is a response to strong demand from students – the number of applications significantly exceeds the available places. “You can feel that this generation is concerned about climate change and wants to find entrepreneurial solutions to it”, says Wüstenhagen. Both MaCS compulsory courses have been redeveloped, the portfolio of options partly builds upon the existing HSG offer and is being continuously developed in collaboration with other master programmes.

Students advance the building of PV systems

The English-language certificate, which is open to HSG students from all 15 master programmes, first introduces students to a basic scientific understanding of climate change in a course entitled “Climate Solutions 101”. The course shows possible approaches to solving the problem on a scientific, political and individual level. Lectures are given not only by HSG regular teaching staff but also by scientists and experts with practical knowledge, such as the ETHZ professor Sonia Seneviratne, one of the leading climate research scientists in Switzerland. 

Another centrepiece of the course is one in which the students work in groups to practically implement specific climate solutions in the field. The aim of the project is to make a contribution to reducing emissions in key areas such as mobility, energy and food or to contribute towards climate education. In doing so, the MaCS students work together with various partners in the St. Gallen region. “By doing this, they learn to communicate with various groups of stakeholders in politics, the economy and society. And they realize implementing climate solutions often also requires stamina”, says Merla Kubli. 

The persistent initiative of three MaCS cohorts of students has made it possible to install a large PV system on the HSG sports hall, expected this year. This is being financed via a platform which enables HSG members and other interested parties to own a stake in individual solar modules.

Other groups in the current MaCS cohort worked with schools in the region. They supported the introduction of a climate policy course that from 2026 will become a compulsory subject for all assessment students at the HSG, implemented a “Green Monday” in collaboration with the HSG University Restaurant or developed the “Tripster” platform. This platform lets you discuss climate-friendly holidays and get ideas. 

Climate knowledge required on the employment market

MaCS provides students with a bundle of abilities which are being increasingly sought after on the employment market. “Companies these days have to approach climate risks with effective initiatives or their continued existence will be under threat”, says Wüstenhagen. Many are therefore looking for experts who analyse climate risks from various angles and are successfully able to advance the implementation of climate solutions. In addition to the private economy, MaCS graduates are also needed in the public sector or in NGOs – or even to set up their own ventures.  

To start in the 2023 Autumn Semester of the Master certificate in Managing Climate Solutions, applications are still being accepted until 30 June 2023. More information here.

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