I'm jus returned from Slovenia where I gave a keynote at the 12th Management International Conference, MIC, in Portorož.
The title of the conference was Managing Sustainability?, and I was asked, in particular, to talk about the ? in the title which I did by focusing on universities and how they set about addressing sustainability. My talk was: Sustainability and the Idea of the University: learning into the future, and I drew on past activity and writing with some new thoughts about agency and leadership. I was asked an unusually good question about the future element of the talk, and the meaning of learning our way into the future. The questioner was appropriately sceptical about the possibility of this.
But it seems to me that university teachers are caught betwixt a past (which is not yet over) and a future (which is here already). They have the responsibility of helping their students value aspects of the past, and to be discriminating about this, whilst helping them to understand the future that is emerging in contexts pertinent to their studies, and thus preparing them for critical participation within this, and this might apply as much to the social context as it obviously does to the workplace one.
Perhaps this is the best justification for work placements, sandwich courses and other workplace links where students get first-hand exposure to new ideas and practices, and the difficulties and excitement associated with their incubation and evolution, doing this in the demanding cauldron of the real economy. I wish I'd had the wit to say this in my talk.