It all starts with a dilemma. On one side, Sustainability is a broad, three-legged concept, that needs agility and flexibility to be addressed properly. On the other side, Academia specializes in providing people with sharp knowledge but often with narrow and confined perspectives. That is why we believe at Black Dot, a non-profit organization run by 10+ volunteers in Gothenburg, Sweden, that we need to complement Academia by connecting students (close to 250 of them so far) from different backgrounds to solve the issues related to the Agenda 2030.
If diversity remains an issue for too many still, Black Dot has another perspective. Diversity, of all kinds, solves issues. People coming from different places look at things differently, may interpret them differently, raise questions others do not think of. People with different educational backgrounds can approach the same problem with different angles, solve different aspects of the same problem, bring their expertise to the table.
“Diversity, of all kinds, solves issues.”
Our reach in Göteborg allows us to design multicultural teams with individuals learning from each other’s experiences and perspectives and, often times, integrating them to turn good ideas into complete solutions. When we gather sustainable challenges related to Agenda 2030 from local actors, our goal is also to create student teams as multidisciplinary as possible; even if, at first glance, certain educational backgrounds do not scream for a match with the challenge in question. After all, entrepreneurship never blooms as well as when the team at work meets all its needs, and Sustainability needs nothing less than this. At the end of our intense Innovation Weekends, it is common that students who did not think themselves able to bring value realize that solving those issues is more about who you do it with rather than what you can do on your own.
“[..] solving those issues is more about who you do it with rather than what you can do on your own.”
Academia, the corporations, the media, the speeches, the conferences.. the noise does not fail to raise those issues and challenges so high individuals might lose faith in their own abilities to solve them. The pride in what we do lies in giving that faith back, allowing individuals —bright ones on top of that — to be part of teams where their value is revealed and potential unlocked. And by doing so, they might just realize that even if those issues might impact the other 7 billion of us, they often require being crafty and common sense more than cutting-edge expertise and world-class funding.
If we make people understand that Sustainability Goals can be reached only by speaking to each other and collaborating across the pathways initially designed by Academia, and across the geographical borders that exist between us, we believe that our generation will give itself the means to fulfill its ambitions, one goal at a time.
Allan Guhl is a French, 24 year-old, recent graduate of the International Business and Trade Master's programme at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. I have also been VP of Black Dot since March 2017.