Looking into the Abyss: Can Business Education Help Save the Planet?

Jonathan Barrett, Open Polytechnic
Jill Jones, Manukau Institute of Technology

Abstract: The natural environment is in crisis, but there is broad consensus on the need for sustainability. Myriad conceptions of sustainability reflect the variety of human traditions and ideas, and yet anthropocentric sustainable development dominates the discourse. This paper argues that the fullest range of sustainability conceptions should be taught in business schools and incorporated into business education and practices. The predominant Western conception of sustainability is outlined first. Second, alternatives to anthropocentric environmentalism are sketched. Third, proposals for sustainable business education are put forward, in the context of a paucity of effective government action. These proposals draw on the possibilities for light green technological optimism, but also seek to leave sufficient space for the expression and development of alternative voices. It is concluded that a radical shift in business education could play a role in saving the planet from anthropogenic destruction.