Design like the Danes

In studying the successful sustainability of Denmark and The Netherlands, Robin Iritz got a lesson in design theory with FCOB’s Sustainable Business Global Lab.

A culture of thoughtfulness sits behind every feature in Copenhagen, Denmark. The same can be said for Rotterdam and Amsterdam in The Netherlands. I travelled these cities in May 2016 as one of 25 climate-conscious Buckeyes. We observed innovative design at each carefully planned city corner.

In the US, sustainability is still securing its legitimacy as an essential consideration in our evolving communities. In Northern Europe, it’s always been in the culture. Our group visited seven influential businesses and universities with the goal of understanding how Europe continuously tops the environmental and social well-being charts. Put simply, what makes these guys so good at solving complex public problems?

It’s all in the design.

It seems as though Danish and Dutch cultures are focused on doing things absolutely right. Everything right. Objects, traffic patterns, personal interactions, all of it is designed with a specific purpose and function. Our group understood this at the Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen where the principles of sensory experience, functionality, and reflection were presented as important features of successful product-service experiences. This kind of design theory can be applied to any product, service, and professional interaction to create a meaningful experience. At Nordic Food Lab, it was applied to distilling grasshoppers into a nutrient rich soy sauce alternative.

We saw design again in the rapidly developing island Amager in Copenhagen where sustainable architecture is absorbing population growth and minimizing the environmental impact of greater population density. We saw design in incredible works of art throughout the many museums we toured in our free time. Design shined from the steel bridges crossing the river and canals in Rotterdam. The bridges are designed to look like the ships passing through Europe’s busiest port city.

My friends and I spent nights in hotel lobbies trying to figure out how to make sustainability as attractive in America as it was in our host cities. After tossing around ideas of flashy advertisement campaigns and political calls to action, we realized that nobody ever “sold” sustainability to the Scandinavians. Rather, it developed there out of geographical conditions, availability of natural resources, and a culture of collectivism. To instill such values quickly in Americans is a lofty endeavor. However, I think that our constraints are changing as a result of climate change and social and political pressure. The changing environment could catalyze innovative technology and community development in such a way that we develop our own brand of sustainability. What American Sustainability will look like is up to how we understand and adapt to our unique challenges.

Understanding the European’s approach to sustainable design has taught me how to deconstruct a problem and build the solution from its parts. Their responses to ever-changing limitations are at once inspired, effective, and efficient. My time in Europe was eye opening and a total blast. (Did I mention how well designed the nightlife is?) I couldn’t bring the culture of sustainability home but what I bring back to OSU this fall is a new point of view and a cool group of peers who know what it’s like to glimpse into the future.

Going Global with Fisher

Welcome to the Fisher Global Experiences blog. The Office of Global Business (OGB) is a resource to undergraduate and graduate students with the intention of enhancing the educational experience through international experience and exposure. In doing so, students will gain the knowledge and skills eagerly sought after by employers in today’s global marketplace. Students participating in OGB programs will write here about their experiences at Fisher and around the world.

Interested in one of Fisher’s global offerings?

One unique opportunity available to first year FisherDirect students is the Freshman Global Lab. This program enables students to study abroad during their first year at The Ohio State University by traveling to four compelling centers of commerce—the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany.

As Fisher students enter their second year, they gain the opportunity to attend short-term study programs that can also provide academic credit to their major. The Emerging Markets Field Study is one such opportunity that gives students the opportunity to enhance their knowledge of business opportunities in developing economies, and prepares them to conduct business in foreign markets.

The Green Business program is another short-term program that provides students the opportunity to examine the initiatives of organizations that have integrated sustainability-focused business practices into their operations. The course looks at the business scene from the perspective of indigenous entrepreneurs, multinational operations, and Costa Rica based companies.

Semester-long Student Exchange is undoubtedly the best immersion experience an undergraduate can have abroad at Ohio State. The Office of Global Business has established the partnership that allows students to learn at top global institutions without paying the extra tuition and earning transferable-credit for their major.

Students can gain global work experience and valuable cultural awareness during Fisher’s Global Summer Internship Programs located in countries that are strategic to international business.  Locations currently include Australia, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Singapore. The internships are eight weeks in length and are selected specifically chosen to compliment the strengths, abilities, and interests of the Fisher student-intern.

Students who still hope to gain global skills and competencies in a paid internship now have the opportunity to so right here in Ohio through the Export Internship Program (EIP).  EIP features a small, specialized export-focused course during the Spring Semester with a twelve week summer internship placement with a small to medium Ohio business looking to increase their exports.

Graduate students have the option of participating in the new Global Applied Projects Program (GAP). GAP students  gain international experience by working on a business challenge with one of Fisher’s corporate partners.  GAP combines a Spring Semester second session international strategy course and a May term global project with a major client designed to differentiate your work experience.