Elon students tackle sustainable development issues in global competition

During the IPBS Sustainability Challenge, a group of Elon students worked in international teams to design policy ideas based on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

A group of Elon students gained experience working in cross-cultural teams to create sustainable policy ideas during the inaugural IPBS Business Sustainability Challenge.

headshots of six students
Andrea Marasso ’21, Maxence Prevost ’21, Morgan Rafferty ’21, Larsen Burack ’23, Savannah Josey ’23, and Xuan Huynh ’24 worked on international teams on a case during hte IPBS Business Sustainability Challenge. Jannik Elmer ’21 served on the event’s organizing committee.

On Feb. 18 and 19, 204 students from the International Partnership of Business Schools (IPBS) network, collaborated to tackle a challenge based on the Sustainable Development Goals developed by the United Nations.

Representing Elon were Andrea Marasso ’21, international business dual-degree student; Maxence Prevost ’21, international business dual-degree student; Morgan Rafferty ’21, policy studies and economics double major; Larsen Burack ’23, business analytics major; Savannah Josey ’23, business analytics major and Business Fellow; and Xuan Huynh ’24, Business Fellow. Jannik Elmer ’21, international business dual-degree student, served on the organizing committee as Head of Americas.

Josey’s team placed second overall. Burack’s team won the “Best Educational Reform” award.

During the competition, 28 student teams analyzed data, discussed possible measures, and developed sustainable policy ideas to anticipate the challenges facing the fictional town of “Pumau.”

“This was a great opportunity to dive into conversations about sustainability with like-minded students from around the globe,” Burack said.

The jury and organization team were overwhelmed by the creativity and quality of the solutions from the teams, noting some teams faced eight hours of time difference. At the end of the challenge, six “best teams,” whose solutions were chosen based on their feasibility and innovational aspects, presented their ideas – reaching from blockchain systems to vertical farming – in the plenum.

“Confronting the participating students with a specific case that is tensible and requires concrete action is on the one hand showing the students how rocky some of the sustainability challenges can be, but at the same time it showed them how relevant the questions are to societies as a whole, to our global structure, to our global infrastructure and also how businesses can play a role in this,” stated jury member Jan-Oliver Distler, economic advisor for the United Nations Development Program.

“It was invigorating to collaborate on a team that brought innovative ideas from around the world to provide creative solutions related to using business as a vehicle for social change,” Josey said. “The diverse identities and backgrounds represented on my team allowed us to develop scalable initiatives that addressed modern problems with long-term implications. This challenge fueled my passion for increasing equity and sustainability in our world through business decisions and provided me hope for the future in the midst of the pandemic.”

This challenge fueled my passion for increasing equity and sustainability in our world through business decisions and provided me hope for the future in the midst of the pandemic.

Savannah Josey ’23

Thanks to the commitment of the organizing team, the jury and the students, a total of €2,500 was donated on behalf of the winning teams to OXFAM projects tackling sustainability issues linked to the case challenge.

IPBS is a consortium of 13 leading business schools in Europe, North America and Latin America, who offer undergraduate programs granting double degrees. The dual-degree programs require study in two countries, and promote language and cultural fluency along with business aptitude. Elon’s International Business Dual-Degree program partners with ESB Business School at Reutlingen University in Germany, NEOMA Business School in France, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Italy, and Universidad Pontificia Comillas in Spain, to offer students the opportunity to earn a B.S.B.A. in International Business from Elon and a second bachelor’s degree from a partner institution in four years.