For the past three years Småkraft AS and the University of Life Science in Ås has collaborated in the Subject Sustainable Finalcial Investmets. The master’ students work case-based in a period of their first year, where they cooperate in groups. The case is based on Sigdesdal powerplant, where they get to use the knowledge they have built up, in a practical manner. Associated professor, Torun Fretheim is subject manager, and says it is both fun and encouraging to work with.
Sustainability is a part of the subject, which stands out from the other traditional finance-based subjects. It first started when Fretheim wanted to create a course within sustainability finance, to give the students a subject based on a practical way of working. She did not want it to be as a separate part but integrated in the subject. At the time, the procedure was uncertain, and she says she almost never have been happier than when Småkraft contacted her. “I got a view from the outside, which was very useful, and it showed me that I was doing something right. What Småkraft contributes with is giving the students realization of that the topics, theories, and the marked of finance is relevant for the real marked”. She describes the situation to the students they are in for a ‘breaking-faze’. Earlier, they have worked with reading, understanding and repeating the theories, but now they get to use it and work in independent groups.
“The case in relation to Sigdestad powerplant is a great task, because its regarding so many of the most important elements you have to think about in a decision making-process, with a focus on the sustainability-dimension and stakeholders”, says Fretheim. Småkraft shows the importance of the consideration to the people you work with and the ones that gets affected by the decisions done. You capitalize over time when you work in teams.
“This is harder than the traditional way of thinking the students usually do. They are obligated to think independently, and many of them sees this as a challenge. That makes it even more fun because we clearly see the student’s development”. A Norwegian saying is that “knowledge is not heavy to carry”, and Fretheim thinks this knowledge is very useful for the students to have. “It does not help how smart you are, if you do not manage to communicate it, and the case regarding Sigdestad is strengthening this”. The students must think in a longer perspective, and this is important for them to do. Other industries can learn from the small-powerplant business when it comes to thinking holistically and long term. It is an inherent problem in the financial industry that many relates to quarterly- and yearly reports and gets bonuses based on annual achievements. Climate problematic has for example a time horizon on 30-40 years.
Torun hopes that the collaboration continues, and that Småkraft AS want to keep doing the guest-lectures and hold the engagement. She does not see any reason for changing the case about Sigdestad powerplant, because of the dynamic of the final result the students end up with. The world situation and other factors contributes to making different solutions for the answers of the task, which also does it unnecessary to do changes.
“In the world of finance, it does not about a company being environmentally friendly and sustainable in its own – it has to make value over a period of time. Småkraft is good at this”, says Torun.