Deep Time Walk: conclusion of the back-to-school for Bachelor in International Business students

How to identify the career that will best suit you when you’re only 18 years old and just starting your higher education? The job that will be most aligned with your values and quest for meaning, while providing professional and personal satisfaction?

In order to help Bachelor in International Business (BIB) students answer this major question, IÉSEG decided to round off their back-to-school week with an innovative workshop at the beginning of September: the Deep Time Walk. Coming mainly from India, Asia and Latin America, all BIB students have very different experiences and awareness of ecology and climate change. This workshop enables them to explore the climate emergency through an imaginative walking experience, and leads them to reflect on their deep links with the living world. This also aims to help them create a personal roadmap, enabling them to imagine how to give meaning to their future career and associative life.

Created by Stephan Harding and Sergio Maraschin in 2007, the Deep Time Walk is a unique educational experience based on the concepts of deep ecology, a movement that aims to transform people’s relationship with nature. It gives them access to a deeper relationship with it, beyond simply repairing or limiting the ecological damage created by human activity.

Over the course of an entire morning, at the Citadelle de Lille and in the grounds of the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the 160 BIB students completed a 4.6 km walk, symbolizing the 4.6 billion years of the Universe’s history… each step representing the equivalent of 1 million years.

The walk is punctuated by 22 stages, corresponding to each key moment in the history of the Earth: the Big Bang, the forming of the Earth, the forming of the Moon, the emergence of life, the Cambrian explosion, the Great Extinctions, the appearance of primates and then of humankind… At each stage, sensory experiences, moments of exchange between students, times for reflection… led the students to exchange with each other, to share, to question each other, to develop their critical thinking and to bring out many questions.

In the afternoon, the students met up again on their respective campuses and, drawing on all that the Walk had triggered, reflected on their future responsibilities as future corporate managers, what it means for them to be a changemaker, and questioned their action levers in relation to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As David MONTENS, Professor of Strategy & Innovation, Creativity and Personal Development at IÉSEG and coordinator of this workshop, explains:

“We are witnessing global challenges unfolding before our very eyes, but we are remaining inactive. And yet, we have the power to turn this situation around: the solutions lie essentially in our collective actions and our everyday individual choices.

The Deep Time Walk was an opportunity to take our students on a much deeper and more concrete journey of reflection. Over the course of an entire afternoon, we helped them to reflect on and build their personal roadmap for their IÉSEG career. Our aim is to enable them to become proactive actors of change throughout their studies… and especially afterwards!

With this workshop, the students left their comfort zone and the abstract world to think in a very concrete way about their future: what do I want? What makes sense to me? What sectors of activity and what companies would enable me to align myself with my values? In which association should I get involved to have a positive impact, according to my definition, on the world around me? Right from their first week at IÉSEG, we make sure to get them to become changemakers, and to spark the change that often comes at the end of the program.”

For the Bachelor in International Business students, everyone should have this experience, as one group of participants testified: It was a very interesting experience, which enabled us to learn a lot of things we’d never seen before. Indeed, the fact that we stopped to focus on the Earth’s trajectory was highly original. We realized that our planet Earth had a much more important history than we had thought! Above and beyond the Walk, it was above all the debate we had before and after, with our teacher and our leaders, that helped us get to know and share everyone’s feelings and experiences. It’s a very constructive experience, and we’d recommend it to everyone at least once in their lives!”

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