Semester M1 – Managaging ecological and social transition

    Within Gaïa School

Starting in September 2022, students in the Grande Ecole program will be able to choose a Gaïa semester as part of their Master 1.

This semester, dedicated to the management of the ecological and social transition, will provide students with key skills to integrate societal and environmental issues into their future careers in finance, marketing, consulting, supply chain, HR...

More and more companies, whatever their size and sector, are mobilizing to develop sustainable and responsible approaches across all their businesses. 

A foundation of knowledge

In a hybrid approach, students will learn to develop a culture of impact by mixing knowledge from management, environmental sciences, humanities and technology. During the Gaïa semester, different disciplines, such as finance, marketing, and management, will be taught, with a current vision (under the prism of 21st century issues) and a prospective vision (to build desirable futures).

The semester, mostly in English, is composed of 10 courses of 24 hours. Among the 10 courses, 7 courses are mandatory and students will have the possibility to choose 3 courses from a catalog of 13 courses. 



Course Framework

The courses are taught by permanent professors of the school, who are specialists in environmental and social issues, but also professionals. In addition to the theoretical courses, various teaching techniques will be used (lectures, round tables, case studies, experiments, business games, etc.) to promote learning. Each course will attempt to respond to one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and will be aligned with the Paris Agreement.

For more information, please contact: Adeline Ochs

Course catalogue

Mandatory courses *** Number of courses to choose in each bloc

Where do we come from ?**

This corpus aims to go deeper into the fundamentals to understand the roots and origin of ecological and social transition. In a multi-disciplinary approach, environmental sciences are combined with historical courses, keeping an economical and management perspective.

Students will have to choose one course in addition to the mandatory one (**).

Human era and human organizations


This course will study the evolution of humanity, both in its relationship with the natural environment and in its organisational dynamics. How did we move from small, low impact, slowly moving human groups to large, urbanised, species and territory colonising communities in constant and rapid movement? In these societies, economic ideologies and management practices will be specifically studied: where do these concepts come from? To what extent have they shaped the world? Are they outdated? On what basis could a new era begin? What are the deep cultural resistances to change? How can they be overcome?




Mandatory course

Dynamics & assessment auditing


This course studies the history and dynamics of life on earth, from scratch 3.6 billion years ago to the present day. The challenge of preserving massively declining biodiversity will be audited. The human consequences of biodiversity loss will also be highlighted. The stakes of renewed, non renewed and strategic resources will be analyzed. The course will also raise the following questions: How can use environmental evaluation to integrate biodiversity into the economy? What about ecosystemic approaches?

This course offers to rethink the separation between nature and culture that is at the heart of the modernization project that has brought about the ecological crisis. Doing away with this separation allows for a much more realistic and accurate description of science, care, arts, politics, organization, and ethics, thus enriching the possibilities to inhabit the world.

Where do we stand ?

This corpus focuses on the worldwide issues and challenges of the 21st century. Mixing humanities, technology and business issues, the objective of this corpus is to acquire knowledge on the mechanisms of individual and social behaviors, management, regulations and justice. The contribution of humanities leads to the exercise of critical thinking and develops a reflective approach.

How has humankind, as individuals and as social animals, faced the changes linked to the challenges of the 21st century? This course will explain how people learn, evolve, imagine, perceive, respond to change, develop utopias and new narratives… and the implications for management. This course will also focus on the role of humans in societies, regarding societal and environmental issues. How do humans cooperate? How does collective thinking work? How do we create new norms and new social imagination? Managing behaviors for transition will be analyzed in the context of organizations, but also in consumption behaviors, integrating public policies challenges.

Energy is a key driver to our societies. This course gives a global perspective and prospective scenarios on geopolitical issues associated with energy. The different types of energy (fossil, renewable and nuclear) are analyzed in their relationship with the worldwide economy, international relations, and dependence on human societies and organizations. Socio-cultural, political and ethical issues related to technologies are also addressed. The objective is to question the trajectories of current and future technologies, from the point of view of design but also from the point of view of uses.


The objective is to give a solid background to students who wish to engage in or have exposure to the financial sector and at the same time to show that such concepts and techniques are powerful tools that can be leveraged to attract the capital required to unlock and scale impact projects. This course will focus on financial and investment concepts and techniques that are widely used in the domain of financing renewable energy, nature-based projects and other types of impact projects. It will also include multi-capital methods to shape new management control methods (investment, performance monitoring and reporting).

This climate science course aims to give understanding of the challenges of climate change and its impacts on organizations' strategies. Different climate scenarios, based on IPCC models, will be analyzed. Students will also learn how to deal with these different scenarios to elaborate climate-aligned decisions and define appropriate strategies for companies.



Inclusion and social justice


This course focuses on managing inclusion and social justice in the workplace. Migration flows and globalization, legislation, increased awareness of individual- and group-level differences and (in) equality have all contributed to bringing attention to the importance of diversity, equality and inclusion. Benefits and obstacles related to the implementation of diversity, equality, and inclusion policies and practices at work are presented. In addition, the focus will be on the social and economic impact on companies (with concrete business cases and professional testimonials). The purpose is also to conduct critical discussion of the idea of inclusion as social justice, their solutions and policies.

How do environmental regulations translate into business activities? How do companies deal with compliance? This course outlines the level of impact of environmental laws on companies, and the tools they have at their disposal to comply with the myriad of national, regional and international regulations. Furthermore, the course draws a picture of how to best prepare for what is to come, from a business perspective, in the wake of ecological litigation and the many current initiatives pushing to make tomorrow’s world more sustainable, which will inevitably translate into future extended legal and moral corporate responsibility.


Where do we go ?**

This corpus takes a prospective vision. How can we design the future, regarding social and ecological transition? After acquiring the methodology to design sustainable future scenarios, students will have the possibility to apply this knowledge on one specific theme that they will choose (see 1X. Designing socio-economical models). To support these scenarios, solid skills on business models and strategic management will complete the corpus.



The objective of the course is to create socio-economical models for a sustainable future, taking into consideration the reality of the stakes. Students will learn how to script and prepare for tomorrow, by designing, analyzing and staging possible futures, to apply the scenarios with a specific focus.

Nature inspired innovation & marketing

This course introduces nature inspired innovation for the design of offers (services, products) that enhance sustainable practices. With methods inspired by biomimicry, students will open their minds to the key principles of nature, to conceptualize and design sustainable offers and adopt an eco-systemic approach to value creation.

City of the future

If the future is now, what city will you choose? Using design processes and methodologies, students will be asked to imagine ‘And what if …’ scenarios that explore the imaginary city in relation to management of natural resources and food systems.

AgriFood transition

What will be the food of tomorrow in response to social and environmental issues? The overall objective consists in offering students hybrid knowledge around food transition by browsing through agronomy, nutrition, psycho-sociology and anthropology.

Art thinking in the context of management

This module investigates art thinking as a way of knowing, thinking, and doing. By building on how artists approach current matters, it explores what makes their thinking significant and relevant in the context of management. Students will be invited to think like artists through practice, master classes, site visits. They will investigate the porosity between the world of artists and their own.

Financing the futur

Financial flows play a major role in financing the ecological and social transition, to limit global warming. The objective of the course is to rethink new financing models, by identifying what are the scenarios for financing the future. How to allocate and direct investments in a way that aligns with climate issues? How to tackle societal problems using new financing solutions? How climate crisis could be mitigated in micro and macro levels using new financing models?

Mandatory course

This course describes decision making as a process that brings together stakeholders, tools, methodologies, contents and contexts that interact with each other to produce a decision. In contrast to theories of rational decision making that focus on the person or persons making the decision, the course invites us to consider the network of dynamic and evolving relationships between management tools and methods, the actors who use them, the content of the decisions to be made and the situations that require them. To illustrate this approach, the fields of strategy, stakeholder engagement and business ethics are used.

How can we act ?****

This corpus will be taught throughout the semester. Students will acquire strategic and managerial skills to develop positive impacts in organizations and in society. They will have the possibility to develop the culture of impact and apply the knowledge acquired in other corpuses.

All the following courses are mandatory.

Mandatory course


The objective of the course is to understand what “impact” means and how to act to spread impact through organizations. Seminars, workshops and coaching sessions will be organized, enriched by interactive conferences (round table) given by inspiring personalities in ecological and social transition (start-ups, entrepreneurs, personalities, etc.). In a complementary manner, a reflective approach will be offered to students to answer the following questions: what is the meaning of a future career? How can deal with these existential questions? How do these 21st century challenges fit into a coherent life project?  

Mandatory course


This course proposes real life innovation consulting projects which have a positive impact on society and the environment. Three kinds of hybrid projects are offered: “Impact for good – business model”; “Impact for good – product & services”; “Impact for good – organization & management”.

The course will study the evolution and adaptation of production and consumption economic models to meet the challenges of sustainability (circular economy, doughnut economy, regenerative economy, …).

Mandatory course


The objective of this course is to go beyond theoretical knowledge and dreams, to confront students with “the reality” and to deal with multiple mindsets and actions. “Hacking” means using the knowledge developed during this semester to disrupt mainstream behaviors and ideas and to be part of the changes. The three parts of this course offer students the opportunity to take three different roles: fact checkers, entrepreneur, lobbyist.