The sustainability conference, which was hosted by Uit Je Eigen Stad’s CEO David-Jan van Gorkum, provided an innovative platform to engage marketing students with sustainability issues. Students selected two out of a total of four workshops, each held by a local enterprise.
Considering business, environment and society
The 180 RSM students learned how exciting business opportunities emerge from sustainability issues and discovered new perspectives about some of the pioneering work in the area of sustainability in the Rotterdam region. They dealt with live cases and provided contributions on matters impacting business, the environment and society. “This was an amazing workshop to understand how marketing is essential to everything, including the creation of a sustainable world,” said MSc Marketing Management student Thomas McKinlay.
Benefiting from this enthusiasm were local enterprises, who were impressed with the creativity and marketing savvy of the marketing students. “This event was an eye-opener; I heard so many different approaches,” said Otto Schepers, project leader at Evides.
During the highly interactive workshops students helped develop marketing solutions for sustainability-related problems. The mini-conference workshops each focused on one element of the 4 Ps of marketing:
- Price. In a seminar led by Huibert de Leede, co-founder of Uit Je Eigen Stad, a solution-oriented discussion was held about a challenge faced by the enterprise: how to deal with the higher cost structure of local and sustainable farming and how to promote food in a way that the higher price is not too big a barrier for adoption among regular consumers.
- Promotion. This is an urban renewal project, aimed at developing unused rail infrastructure in the Rotterdam area. The students discussed how urban renewal projects can be made possible with little or no government funding. The seminar was led by Clemence Nuijens and Jacques Vink, who are leading the project.
- Placement. Floating Farm is a futuristic project aimed at creating dairy farming on water. The project hopes to build the first concept farm in Rotterdam next year. The idea is to reduce the gap between production and consumption by bringing dairy production closer to urban consumers. Students discussed how this concept might work from a commercial point of view. The workshop was led by Johan Bosman, one of the founders and project leader of Floating Farm.
- Product. Local water company Evides is running a project titled RINEW, which aims to close the water-use loop and extract valuable resources from sewage water, such as phosphate, cellulose and other nutrients. The students pitched ideas on how to increase the likelihood of product adoption among different stakeholders. The workshop was led by the project leader, Otto Schepers.
Building sustainability into teaching
The full-day event was funded by a grant from Sustainable RSM and contributions from RSM’s Department of Marketing Management. RSM Professor Stefano Puntoni, who co-ordinated the conference, said sustainability is key in reshaping the field of marketing. “We need to train the next generation of marketing professionals about the importance of thinking carefully about resources and the environment,” he said.
Sustainable RSM provides leadership, consultation and support for activities and action with a focus on society and the environment. One of its priorities is to encourage faculty members to incorporate elements of sustainable business education into their curricula.
The 'Stimulating Sustainability' Teaching Fund, which was used for the conference, was established to help achieve this and to provide RSM faculty and programme managers financial support for sustainability-relevant classroom or co-curricular activities, such as this mini-conference.