Beth // Finding the focus

After spending some time in France, I’ve been working my way south towards Italy once again. Along the way, I had a lot of opportunities for meeting people on the trains. One specific person, Beth, was from Kansas in the US and was traveling with her family throughout Italy. As we started talking while waiting for our train, she asked me what I have been doing for the last year. I told her that I have been living in Sweden studying sustainability and when I return back home, will be looking to help companies and organizations plan more strategically towards sustainability.

Her interest was peaked when I mentioned my field of study, but then quickly followed by asking what the real purpose and title of my studies were – it didn’t even cross her mind that sustainability could be the sole focus of an entire master’s program. But her response is not too different from many of the other conversations I’ve had with people on the trains.

With most people, I haven’t been able to go into deeper questions and develop an entire post for Curb to Curb, but with nearly every mention of studying sustainability, people give one of three responses:

1) Confused or uninterested because they don’t know what sustainability is about.
2) Surprised that someone could specialize in the field of sustainability.
3) Excited that someone could specialize in the field of sustainability.

The key I have found is to transition people through conversation from one stage to the next. Those who are confused or uninterested need to first move towards a stage of surprise that sustainability is a real concern and that you can strategically plan towards sustainability. For those who are surprised, the conversation must find ways of exciting them about this possibility so that they can start hosting similar conversations. And for those who are already excited – the conversation is typically quite easy – but it’s important that the individuals are encouraged and motivated to strive more and more towards sustainability.

Throughout any type of conversation, it is important to stress that sustainability can, and should, be a central focus for our lives. Some people can specifically study it, but we all can start acting it.

If you are interested in studying sustainability more in depth, check out the MSLS (Master of Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability) program in Karlsrkona, Sweden.

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