Experiential learning program for empowerment in sustainability

Video - Presentation of a real project co-created by the team in the learning program

This learning program was created, proposed and delivered by Impact Holders, an advisory company which I established with my partner, Eduardo Zaldivar.

'I've never imagined, before doing this program, that we could go so far as a team, woking so united. I am very happy with our results, it was a big challenge and achievement for me' - Alejandro Lorenzo, program participant.

Cultivating tomorrow's leaders today

This experiential program aims to empower participants to work in the sustainability field and to create their own jobs. The learning journey is delivered through the co-creation of a real, live project, building networks and promoting the participants.

Academic learning is embedded as participants apply theory to real life situations. Participants are taken through the stages, step by step, to co-create real projects working as a team, with real stakeholders and potential partners to implement the projects.

Participants reinforce the academic theories applying them in real experiences. They are taken through all the steps to co-create real projects working as a team and with real stakeholders and potential partners in order to implement them.

This live business business experience, connecting participants with the real market, enhances the learning and empowerment of the participants. 

At the end of the program, the participant teams present their co-created projects to the University's staff and students, external stakeholders and potential partners. This presentation develops participants' communication skills as evidenced in the video below.

The program is popular with participants achieving an average score of nine out of 10 in evaluation.

While the core elements of the program are delivered/facilitated by Eduardo and Leonardo, subject specialists are engaged to lead specific sessions.

For example: Ignacio Izquierdo, an award winning photographer and journalist, delivered the session: Engaging the audience through images.

 Part of Impact Center Team with Ignacio Izquierdo
Part of Impact Center Team with Ignacio Izquierdo

For more information about the learning methodology please watch this video.

The co-created project

The co-created project was an Impact Center® - a physical place where all the members of the University, from any department, can go to develop and launch social enterprise projects.

The main activities of Impact Holders in the Impact Center are to:

      • Advice and support for the development of sustainability projects and the implementations of new business models.
      • Build a collaborative atmosphere that encourages Fresh & creative thinking for complex problem solving
      • Deliver participative & dynamic workshops delivered by Impact Holders and other specialists enhance knowledge and develop skills. Real and engaging cases are analysed
      • Connect & Engage
        • between students from all the University faculties and courses. The learning journey is topical rather than subject specific
        • with potential partners such as private companies and NGOs to recruit support and develop networks, enhancing employability
      • Diffuse - A place to communicate projects and connect with the media
      • Build the Narrative - Definition of the University's Corporate Social Responsability strategy and development of its narrative
      • Do it having Fun - The atmosphere is safe, happy, relaxed, motivating and inspiring 

 Impact Center - Dynamic
Impact Center - Dynamic

For more details about the co-created Impact Center® project visit its fanpage

The rationale behind the experiential learning program

Having delivered a workshop on productively uniting separated worlds we were invited to create and deliver a four and a half month experiential program for empowerment in sustainability and to advise the University on its sustainability strategy and implementation.

In order to maximize results in the multidisciplinary area of sustainability it is key to work with all sectors, bringing them together, building trust, to generate bigger, collective impact. Alongside government, companies, agencies, NGOs, media, etc. it is key to work with academia and students, who will be the future decision makers and can drive the change to a more sustainable world.

The educational system is not adapted to inspire disruptive thinking that brings bigger and collective impact. But, as we revealed through the program, academia is adapting in order to change this reality, developing experiential learning programs, promoting positive social interactions, engaging and motivating the students and creating real impact through new business models.

We believe that experiential empowerment programs like this are essential. Eighty five people in the world have more than half of the planet's wealth. At the same time half of the poor people have less than 1% of the planet's wealth. New business models are key to develop a more equal and sustainable society. 

According to Unesco, in 2020 there will be 1.3 billion young people between 15 and 30 years of age looking for a job. But the market will contract just 300 million of them. Additionally, in the next 30 years more people will graduate than ever before in the human history. So, the new graduates need to know how to proactively create their own jobs.

© Leonardo Martins Dias 2015 - All rights reserved