UNIL, IMD and EPFL team up on sustainable management

Martin Vetterli (EPFL), Nouria Hernandez (UNIL) and Jean-François Manzoni (IMD).

Martin Vetterli (EPFL), Nouria Hernandez (UNIL) and Jean-François Manzoni (IMD).

The Enterprise for Society Center (E4S) will train future managers to meet the challenges of sustainability and social responsibility, in part by leveraging the opportunities presented by digital technology. The aim of E4S – a joint initiative between University of Lausanne (UNIL), International Institute for Management Development (IMD) and EPFL – will be to inspire the development of a sustainable, inclusive economic system. The first step will be the launch of a joint Master’s program.

With the 2020s just around the corner, the world faces a host of challenges including climate change, rising populism and how to respond to the digital revolution. The first two speak directly to future generations, and the third one will involve profound shifts and give rise to important opportunities.

This has led three Swiss institutions, mindful of their social responsibility to shape the future, to team up on a unique joint initiative. UNIL, IMD and EPFL will combine technological innovations and new economic and management governance tools to come up with sustainable solutions to these global challenges.

The cornerstone of this joint initiative is the new Enterprise for Society Center (E4S), which will have three main objectives. First, to train the next generation of business leaders through a new Master’s degree in Sustainable Management and Technology, with courses taught by faculty from all three institutions. Second, to unite the efforts of researchers at the three schools in order to tackle issues with major societal impacts. And third, to further develop the schools’ innovation ecosystem for promising young startups.

Nouria Hernandez, the rector of UNIL, sees a unique opportunity for her school to “take our know-how in sustainability and our long-standing experience, through HEC, in business research and education, and combine them with the core competencies of two major universities – one specialized in technology and the other in management and large corporations.”

Jean-François Manzoni, the president of IMD, adds: “We all have the same vision – to innovate constantly and to create research and educational opportunities that meet society’s needs. Through this joint initiative, we can draw on the best each school has to offer through cross-disciplinary projects and programs that, even if we could have offered them individually, will be more effective given together.”

“Our society has reached a tipping point. By pooling the right kinds of expertise, we can harness science and technology to take our society in the right direction. That is precisely what E4S has been set up to do,” says Martin Vetterli, the president of EPFL.

E4S has already set up seven “research platforms,” focusing on:

  • Socially Inclusive Technologies for Shared Prosperity
  • Transforming the future of work
  • Evidence-Base Environmental Policy Advice
  • Systemic Risks and Sustainability
  • Grand Challenges and the Role of Business Firms
  • Automatic Detection of Leadership from Voice and Body
  • Toward Interpretable Machine Learning

These research topics, which are discussed in detail in the E4S presentation, will bring together experts from the three universities as well as representatives of the public and private sectors. They all share one goal: to help build a better future by laying the groundwork for a sustainable, inclusive economic system that enjoys widespread support.

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