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"There is nothing so practical as a good theory."

16 July 2018 – Jake Reynolds, Executive Director, Sustainable Economy describes The Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Programme which will bring together leading companies and academics to tackle sustainability challenges through cross-disciplinary research.

This week the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge launched our Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellowship Programme which will see 12 new academics hired into the University to work with industry and government on breakthrough solutions to the world’s biggest challenges. Focused on real-world problems such as inequality, preventative health, radical innovation and climate change, this new generation of academics will become familiar with the operating models, strategies and constraints of companies such that their independent research has a clear pathway to impact in the real world.

Many parts of the world have reached a crunch point on climate change, plastic pollution, inequality and conflict, and none of us should push these issues into the long grass. Urgent action is needed to find solutions, supported by new thinking from the research community. By creating an interactive and co-operative space for academics and users of their work in industry and government, we intend the Programme to become an active, instrumental channel through which sustainability problems can be framed, reframed and addressed through cross-disciplinary research. As the founder of social psychology, Kurt Lewin, observed, "There is nothing so practical as a good theory."

The Programme is backed by a multimillion pound commitment from its founding companies, among which are Anglian Water, Asda, AstraZeneca, Sainsbury’s, SAPPI and Unilever. As an innovation within higher education, we will target Fellows from a range of backgrounds and disciplines, guided by an interest in problem-solving. We expect to attract younger researchers wanting exposure to companies and policymakers at an early stage of their careers, but also more experienced researchers interested in generating more impact from their work.

The Programme takes The Prince of Wales’s name in recognition of his immense leadership on sustainability over 40 years across forests, agriculture, water, oceans and communities, and much more. As our Patron, The Prince has been directly involved with many of our most notable initiatives at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, from our flagship executive education programme, to our leadership groups with industry. We are excited to bring the Programme to fruition and look forward to it growing both in size and impact over the next decade.

Learn more about The Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellowship Programme

About the Author

Jake Reynolds

Dr Jake Reynolds, Executive Director, Sustainable Economy at CISL, is responsible for our collaborations with business, government and financial institutions to build a sustainable economy, and is architect of our 10-year vision, Rewiring the Economy.

Prior to this Jake worked with CISL’s predecessor organisation to refocus its work on sustainability, drawing on a background in conservation and development with the UN and others in India, Kenya, Lebanon, Bahamas, Guyana and Uganda, and spells in engineering research and the private sector.

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Articles on the blog written by employees of the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) do not necessarily represent the views of, or endorsement by, the Institute or the wider University of Cambridge.