Between the second and third core periods of the International MBA curriculum, students explore – through a series of presentations from outside experts, online simulation, interactive workshops, group work and on-site company visits – the challenges and opportunities of discontinuous change. Topics will vary each year to include climate change, demographic change, nanotechnology, or the rise of user-generated media.

Exercises will strengthen participants’ ability to gauge the impact of change and to identify new opportunities offered by change. The topic for the November 2008 intake  is the Future Beyond Oil: Thinking Outside of the Barrel to Ensure Sustainability, as explored through the triple prism of economic change, climate change and geopolitical change. Wildly fluctuating oil prices, finite fossil fuel deposits, an overheating planet and global security concerns have everyone talking about energy (in)dependence. Yet trend lines clearly indicate that the West is becoming more energy dependent, not less so. Compared with just 10 years ago, for example, Americans are driving larger and less efficient cars and buying bigger homes and more appliances. As a result, U.S. oil use has increased over the decade by nearly 2.7 million barrels a day, 56% of which are imported. In total, the average American consumes five times more energy than the average global citizen, 10 times more than the average Chinese, and nearly 20 times more than the average Indian.
Yet energy consumption is rising fastest in the developing world, where petroleum use alone has quadrupled since 1970. The two countries with the highest rate of growth in oil use are China and India, whose combined populations account for a third of humanity. In the next two decades, China’s oil consumption is expected to grow at a rate of 7.5% per year and India’s 5.5%. By 2030, China will import as much oil as the U.S. does now, an eightfold increase over its current import levels, according to the International Energy Agency.

Oil dependency has several dimensions. On the one hand lies a clearly environmental dimension: burning of fossil fuel injects millions of cubic tons of harmful CO2 in the atmosphere, a direct contributor to global warming. Another
dimension is economic security because dependency on foreign oil can lead to price distortions and economic crises. Last is global security. Several undemocratic regimes are large oil and gas producing countries. Some of these  countries are members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) which holds 80% of proven global reserves. The oil wealth of OPEC countries allows them to play a strategic role in world politics and the global economy. But their record on human rights, political stability and rule of law is often poor.

This week-long series of seminars, panels, workshops, case studies and debates will analyze the world politics and global business of the world’s oil dependency. Are we truly running out of oil? Do we really want to kick the oil habit? And if so what are all stakeholders from traditional Big Oil to up and coming renewable energy players doing to address this momentous change that will have significant economic, environmental and geopolitical consequences?

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