Scandinavian Global Lab

My study abroad was Sustainable Business Global Lab in Copenhagen, The Netherlands, and Sweden. We examined how individuals and institutions there viewed challenges and opportunities associated with sustainability initiatives in business.

There were many things that changed about my assumptions regarding sustainable business. One was that I believed the majority of sustainable initiatives were led by the government. I quickly realized in The Netherlands that businesses and individuals were the driving force of sustainability. Yes, the municipalities made certain efforts to promote it, but the businesses we visited were going above and beyond what was required. A lot of the businesses were also sharing their sustainable projects with other businesses, including ones in the US, to grow interest in the field.

My view of the world also changed drastically. I was immersed in different cultures. In both Copenhagen and The Netherlands, it seemed that the number of bikes outnumbered the population. The people understood that biking was efficient as well as healthy for them and the environment.  I even came away with a greater value in hard work and life. All the history in Rotterdam inspired me. Everything they had to do and still do to pursue a quality life is amazing.

The first business trip we had in Amsterdam was Akzon Nobel. They are a paint and chemical company that is on the forefront of sustainable business. One of their newest and largest initiatives is to rate their suppliers on certain things including sustainability and then decide whether or not they are a viable business partner. They even planned to present their idea at a conference with other industry leading firms from the United States.

People over in Europe seemed to have a much healthier lifestyle and I have started to adopt some their habits. Just walking around Amsterdam, the first night I realized how many bikers there were. It wasn’t until Copenhagen when a small group of us rented our own bikes and took a tour around the city that I really saw how much better life would be if more people would simply make a change from cars to bikes.

In The Netherlands they have a saying, “God created the earth, but the Dutch created The Netherlands.” They say this because their homes used to be covered by the ocean and most of their land is still below sea level. We took a tour of Kinderdijk one day which is a village in Netherlands and I learned the history behind their work. They built 19 windmills and 3 pumping stations in the 18th century to control the flood plains and waterways. Every day they had to operate those mills to protect those who inhabited the land.

The realization that our industries can also be sustainable, even though the government does not fully support the initiative, motivates me to be a part of the change. I want to bring my knowledge and passion to a company that wants to lead others in sustainable practices. Learning about the history of The Netherlands matters because I know I want to be a part of something bigger than myself, something that helps a lot of people. Lastly, I have already adopted one of the biggest aspects of Scandinavian culture to live a healthier more sustainable life, the bike.

One thought on “Scandinavian Global Lab

  1. It’s awesome to hear that this experience reinforced the importance of hard work, health, and sustainability! I also appreciate that this experience confirmed your desire to better the world around you!

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