Written on 03 March 2021.
Students on the EDHEC Online BSc in Business Management took part in the ‘Objective Green Deal’ hackathon, promoted by the European Commission in early February. The goal for EDHEC students? Work in a highly pragmatic way on practical sustainable development issues for the European Union.
For Loïck Menvielle PhD, Director of the EDHEC Online BSc in Business Management, the event provided a unique occasion for students to propose positive-impact solutions, to understand the EU’s challenges in terms of ecology and lastly to shine on a podium comprising students from various disciplines.
Professor Loïck Menvielle answers our questions on this EDHEC Online project.
Can you give us a recap on the European Green Deal?
The European Green Deal was launched by the European Commission in 2019. It is a set of initiatives geared to promoting efficient use of resources via a clean and circular economy, as well as to restoring biodiversity and reducing pollution. The overarching objective is to make the European Union economy sustainable. Beyond this aspect, the most ambitious challenge set by the EU in the Green Deal is to ensure Europe is carbon-neutral as a continent by 2050.
Can you tell us about the ‘Objective Green Deal’ hackathon?
It’s an online challenge organised by the European Commission for all 18-30 year olds in France, designed to inform the population and get them involved in the European Green Deal. It took place on 12-13 February 2021. It was particularly geared to eliciting innovative ideas focusing on the following questions:
The best projects will have the chance to be supported by the European Commission.
Frans Timmersmans, Vice-President of the European Commission, chaired the opening ceremony and gave a particularly inspiring introduction geared to raising awareness among the young of the major societal issues linked to ecology, while also underlining that it is everyone’s responsibility to contribute to the ongoing fight to protect our environment. The Vice-President urged participants to act in pursuit of these objectives, particularly when one considers that the EU is responsible for close to 10% of forest destruction around the world, notably as a result of consumption habits in Europe. Various day-to-day foodstuffs for Europeans, such as dairy products, soya or palm oil, are produced in a way that is detrimental to forest ecosystems.
How did BSc students participate in the hackathon?
Some 40 EDHEC Online BSc in Business Management students, divided into several groups, took, part in the hackathon.
They analysed and worked on their subjects in collaboration with their EDHEC professors, who were available day and night for the challenge, while also exchanging with European Commission mentors.
Two groups of BSc students reached the final and one claimed 3rd place on the podium! Very well done to all of them!
They had the chance to present their work to a grand jury of experts from the Commission.
Why the decision to take part in the hackathon?
At EDHEC, we think hackathons are one of the best ways to have students work on a theme that is important to companies and institutions alike, and which comes with tight time-constraints.
We believe in the power of hackathons, a technique developed among others by large corporations originating from Silicon Valley, such as Facebook. They are designed to elicit ‘proofs of concept within extremely short timescales - in other words to demonstrate the feasibility of a process or innovation - and to generate positive emulation on the subject.
The hackathon approach aligns with one of the objectives of EDHEC and particularly of the BSc in Business Management, namely that of confronting our students with real and practical problems.
During their training, students are subjected to real problems faced by companies – both large groups and SMEs – in order to equip them with the tools needed to deal with the reality waiting for them in their future careers.
Our role is to narrow the gap between the purely academic and the more operational and pragmatic aspects, in line with what will be expected of them in companies.
Why engage with the Green Deal?
This is obviously one of EDHEC’s strategic focuses. The School’s strategic plan out to 2025 involves making a positive impact for future generations. It was therefore natural for EDHEC to participate in this ecological and economic initiative.
EDHEC Online programmes are engaged with this type of thinking. Sustainable development is one of the core elements with which all students are sensitised through our training programmes. Several of our classes incorporate these societal issues directly and some are even entirely devoted to environmental questions and to the responsible actions that the managers we train must understand and incorporate into their day-to-day activities.
Another key strategic focus at EDHEC is the hybridisation of profiles and knowledge. This explains why BSc students had the chance to work in groups also comprising students from engineering schools or schools specialised in sustainable development and environmental protection themes.
One of the projects worked on by BSc students focuses on protecting our oceans, can you tell us more about it?
BSc students worked on the objective set by the European Commission, namely for Europe to become carbon-neutral as a continent by 2050.
They had to come up with ideas for further consideration related to day-to-day problems such as mobility, recyclable materials, habitats, etc. One of the groups effectively proposed solutions for protecting the environment and more particularly seas and oceans, in recognition of the crucial nature of this issue.
Their project seeks to raise awareness among Europeans of matters linked to the protection of the seas and oceans that border Europe. The team’s proposal is for a team of scientific specialists to travel around Europe by sailboat, with the aim of reaching out to people, and raising awareness of and popularising environmental protection issues. The project also advocates setting up a competitive event between towns and cities, focusing on recycling operations.
Do you follow up on these projects?
Yes, absolutely. This type of work takes the form of a consulting project, in which we ensure the practical application of students’ ideas to the real world.
Throughout the year, EDHEC Online BSc in Business Management students are required to work on highly pragmatic projects, related to issues currently being faced by companies, and which may concern subjects like CSR objectives or SEO referencing. Following these projects and challenges, EDHEC BSc students will ideally also find themselves on the podium, and if not, will all have reaped the benefits of a highly practical and positive experience!