Roundup of the EBS International Summer School on Digitalization and Sustainability in 2022

Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi of Tufts University in the United States discusses the forces shaping the digital economy worldwideThe second Estonian Business School’s International Summer School on Digitalization and Sustainability was a resounding success in August 2022, with more than 50 participants and speakers from Estonia, Baltics, Europe, and beyond, participating in the week-long program in August. We are currently planning the third annual summer school, which will be held August 14-18. 


The summer schools are truly interdisciplinary, as we welcome a mix of graduate students and working professionals in attendance. Our speakers include visionaries from the public and private sectors, tackling issues particular to Estonia, the region, and the world. Last years' summer school included participants from 19 different nations, including students from the European Union, Switzerland, the UK, and places farther afield (South Africa, Ukraine, Nigeria, and Vietnam, for example). We cherish different perspectives at our summer school and would love for you to join us in August.  


During the summer school, participants experience two different countries; the first four days are held at the EBS’s campus in Tallinn (Estonia), a UNESCO heritage site, as well as a tech and digital hub. On the event’s last day, the participants travel by ferry to EBS Helsinki (Finland) to present their capstones in groups and graduate from the summer school, earning 6 graduate-level ECTS credit hours.  


The summer school incorporates a self-paced online learning component through the Canvas platform, where students watch videos, read assigned articles, and have conversations with fellow participants. The participants enjoy two city tours and three site visits during the summer school as part of the experiential learning.  


The speakers at the 2022 summer school represented the latest academic, political, and business thinking in the sectors of sustainability and digitalization, which will be part of the major drivers in the so-called twin transition,” said Dr. Anna Broughel, a co-director of the summer school. 

    “The motivation for the business school’s focus is the understanding that digital and green transformation can only take place alongside significant changes in the business-as-usual. While everybody has heard that data is the new oil, it is not the quantity of data that matters, but how data enhances our understanding of the world. This summer school focuses on the rapidly growing digital and sustainability sectors, both of which are enabled by the data revolution.”  


    Energy and sustainability speakers brought their diverse opinions with their focus ranging from global to local Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi, Director of Digital Planet and lecturer at the U.S. Fletcher School at Tufts University, discussed the various forces shaping the global digital economy, including demographic, institutional, geopolitical, and environmental forces, and how to make the digital economy work for everyone.  


    Dr. Anna Broughel of Johns Hopkins University discussed global net zero carbon and 100 percent renewable energy scenarios and how our societies need to change to achieve it. The global discussion on energy transition was continued by Dr. Dawud Ansari of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, who caught the participants up on the latest on the possibilities of hydrogen as an energy carrier, its challenges, current developments, and implications for policy and business, as well as a dive into how energy poverty is driving international conflicts. 


     Vivian Loonela, the European Commission spokesperson for the Green New Deal, discussed how the European Union is planning on navigating its strategy for a green recovery. Mark Kantšukov of Tartu University spoke about the latest green and sustainable finance developments. Zooming into regional and local issues, experts Jaanus Uiga (Ministry of Economic Affairs), Laura Remmelgas (Ministry of Environment), and Priit Mändmaa (World Energy Council) had a round-table discussion on the state of clean energy in Estonia and its long-term priorities in a panel moderated by Megan Naylor of the US Embassy in Estonia, a sponsor of the summer school. 


    Summer School participants listen to a pitch from the startup incubator Wise GuysThe summer school featured speakers who contributed on topics of digital leadership and open governance through an e-residency program (Alex Wellman),  the digital transformation and lessons learned in Ukraine (Jaanika Merilo),  regional economic development in Estonia (Denis Larchenko), as well as Big Tech’s power, regulation and political corporate social responsibility (Dr. Jukka Mäkinen). One of the highlights of the conference was a lecture on sustainable, purposeful, and compassionate leadership for the post-COVID world, offered by Prof. Catherine Tanneau, of HEC Paris, who has consulted major corporations around the world.  


    Learning during the summer school happens inside and outside the college walls.  This year, participants were able to take several visits in Tallinn, including the start-up accelerator Wise Guys, where three startup teams pitched their companies to summer school attendees. 


    Participants got to take a guided tour of Tallinn’s Old Town, which dates back to the 13th centuryParticipants also took a tour with a professional guide of Tallinn’s historic Old Town, which dates to the 13th century. They also visited the Estonian Parliament building, where they learned how the parliament works and about the history of the building. There was also a guided tour of the Seaplane Harbor Museum, where participants learned about the maritime history of the Baltic Sea and its environment. On the last day of the summer school, there is ample time to visit Helsinki, with an option to stay the weekend exploring Finland before heading home.  


    Buffet lunches are fully catered throughout the week, with lactose-free and vegetarian options available. The summer school organizers offer discount codes for the students to stay at a local four-star hotel for a reduced rate. 


    “We’re aiming to provide diverse business, economic, policy, and management perspectives by our speakers for generating new ideas,” said Scott Abel, a co-director of the summer school. “The 6 ECTS credit hours they can earn let the students get a head start on their academic year before the start of the fall semester. 


    “This summer school is for advanced graduate and exceptional undergraduate students with a business, social science, or STEM background. Hopefully, it’s a platform for future leaders in our societies on some of the issues they will face.”