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  1. When I first saw this campaign I found it quite ironic. I thought to myself “Aren’t these the people very much responsible to contributing to the consumerism wich is creating polltion, global warming, etc etc..?!” On the other hand it is always good news to find that there is action taken to make changes towards the better from within. So, the question is of course; Is THIS an attempt to greenwashing?

    I find it very encouraging that the students of Berghs takes this work to the mirror and questions homebase.
    While at it, why not take it one step further?
    As a sceptic with a fair amount of prejudice towards institutions and people who’s work or ambition it is to communicate/manipulate/persuade me of my daily life choices, I`m wondering what Berghs does to implement the core message of this campaign to its students? Are environmental and ethical issues a part of the education? If so, how, and to what extent?
    What kind of responsibility does Berghs take to make their students take critical, active choices of what employer and assignments they can accept in the future? Further on, it’d be interesting to know how the students themselves relate to this campaign, and how they prepared themselves for the campaign. Is there a genuine interest, or is it something that ends with these final projects?

    At the moment it looks like it’s basicly only the CSR education (correct me if I’m wrong) that deals with these issues. Shouldn’t ethical and environmental principles be a natural part of ALL the choices of education at Berghs?
    So, finally, how will these values be brought into your professions to be?

    Hoping to reduce my prejudiced notion!

    Comment by Helena — Sun, May 2, 2010 @ 00:55

  2. Hi there!

    Being questioned is always a good thing, since it provides an opportunity to consider one’s strengths and weaknesses. Thus we take this opportunity to thank Helena who has questioned the strength of Berghs’s involvement in the issue of sustainability. Helena, you wonder whether it’s just that we’re involved in an attempt at “greenwashing,” and if this year’s final examination exhibition at Berghs isn’t just a trend-conscious flash in the pan.

    Our straight answer is that Berghs’s involvement with the sustainability issue has just begun. We have recently embarked on a journey where the school’s management, teachers and students together will define the extent and scope of our challenges and possibilities. Here too, we are driven by the ambition to set an international standard!

    But even the longest journey begins with a few first steps. And our very first step, taken during this past semester, was to require the management at Berghs and our program directors to learn more about what sustainability entails. The next step is to integrate the issue of sustainability in all our courses and programs in order to reach all our students.

    Consequently, we’ll begin the coming fall semester by putting all our teachers through a special sustainability program. We’ll also develop an education plan in sustainability that will be part of all our full-time programs. As we’ve said earlier, we’ll recruit more female course directors, and step up activities that will make more relative newcomers to Sweden discover Berghs. We will also look over the environmental impact of our daily routines.

    This doesn’t mean that we have reached our goal, but it does prove that we’re taking a couple of first important steps. An effective sustainability plan is never finished, never complete. It is a living document that must continuously be updated and upgraded to keep pace with our changing world. And it will require a continuous dialogue with all those who influence Berghs and are influenced by us. So Helena, please don’t hesitate to share with us what additional steps you think we should or could take!

    Sofia Strömberg

    Head of School, Berghs School of Communication

    Comment by Sofia strömberg — Mon, May 24, 2010 @ 18:10

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WE QUESTION YOU

2010-04-08

Good morning Mr. Pär Lager – CEO of Berghs School of Communication – and Mrs. Sofia Strömberg, head principal of the very same. You just ran out of places to hide.

You pride yourself of being the best in the business. That the communicators of the future are born and bred here and that your educations are so close to reality they’re practically in it (and sometimes ahead of it). In fact, your website is riddled with claims like these. And to top things off you’re hosting an exhibition in May that focus on sustainability too.

However, we find ourselves not convinced. While you may have switched to low-energy light bulbs and put out a few recycle bins, acting sustainable is also to act against negative trends in your own backyard. And we have one particular issue in mind.

Like art history books, our education has been heavily overrepresented by men. White men, that is. But if we’re about to communicate with everyone, then shouldn’t “everyone” be an equal part of our education? This problem is not limited to the teachers either. How come about 90 percent of the students here are white, Swedish, heterosexual big-city kids? Bring on the diversity dammit!

We know this is a general problem in our whole industry, but shouldn’t Berghs as a “school for the future” act more responsibly and break this trend? Or is this the kind of reality you wish to incorporate in your education?

We will wait for your response, so please send it to respond@studentbyran.se.

This is only the beginning. Are you in or out?

Best regards

Studentbyrån

Link to Berghs

To aid us when we question companies and organizations that might not live up to their sustainable promise, we have a group of consultants with extensive experience in CSR.

YOUR ANSWER

2010-04-16

Dear Students of Our Brilliant Studentbyrå,

First of all we want to salute you in deciding to challenge communicators worldwide! Indeed our professional group must take the initiative in raising sustainability awareness. After all, who better than we know how to reach people’s hearts and minds?

Clearly, the question of sustainability should be topmost in the minds of all those who aspire to world leadership, whatever their profession. The essence of leadership is to set international benchmarks across the board, and this is why sustainability is an essential part of Berghs’ agenda. Our vision is that all our graduates should understand this issue and shoulder the responsibility to do something about it.

You raise the important point that one should be wary of communicating sustainability if one doesn’t have the relevant facts. This is what we believe as well.

And this is precisely why we have chosen to still lay a bit low in terms of communicating sustainability. We know that we have much to learn, and we would like to have done our proper homework before we try to lead the world. But there is a lot being done. And this is why we were somewhat surprised to find ourselves on the list of companies accused of Greenwashing.

We certainly believe that we can make a decisive difference in furthering the cause of sustainability. In part by making sure that each new generation of communicators respond to the issue. And in part by looking over the environmental effects of our own practical activities – there is much to do here and the work continues.

An important step is that we have chosen to let this spring’s graduation projects include the sustainability theme, and that all first-year students last fall helped launch the charity organization Water Aid. All our students have had the opportunity to meet with some of the world’s leading sustainability communicators. During the spring term we have also introduced a course within CSR for professionals in the business.

But you have identified a sore point of great concern. You emphasize that sustainability also entails social responsibility, and on this point we are as concerned as you are. We see an industry where male and female graduates from Berghs are given many opportunities to thrive. But we also see an industry where few with immigrant background feel welcome, and where talents from rural areas have a hard time breaking into the field.

And you are certainly correct: we must – and want to! – lead also in these matters. And we have taken steps in this direction. For instance, we work with She Creatives to highlight and introduce female creatives in our school. This spring we launched our application process live on the web so that everyone in Sweden can participate and apply to Berghs. We have also considerably increased our number of schoolarships so that students from all social backgrounds should be able to enter Berghs. And during the 2008/09 year we implemented an ambitious diversity program.

But good is not enough since we have a unique role to play. During the coming academic year we intend to significantly increase our number of female lecturers and course directors. In partnership with the industry we will also create a stipend fund to assist applicants with disadvantaged economic backgrounds. Our goal is to cooperate with the communication industry to attract young people with immigrant backgrounds.

It will take a while before we can assert a position of leadership on the issue of sustainability. We have great ambitions, and as soon as we feel ready we’ll certainly tell the world. On this issue too, we want to set a new benchmark for schools of communication around the world.

PS: We just checked out the exciting sustainability personalities that you’ve presented on your web site, but were a bit surprised at the lack of competent women. Get in touch with us for some suggestions!

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Sofia Strömberg           Pär Lager

Head principal              CEO