Dr. Lukas Figge-Muschalik

Dr. Lukas Figge-Muschalik is a Sustainability professional with 11 years of experience in research and education. As a researcher and supervisor he is specialised in frameworks and assessment methods for (business) sustainability and strategy development. As an educator he is specialised in leadership development, learner-centric instructional design and Education for Sustainable Development. Lukas is involved as Lecturer for the MaastrichtMBA programme, supervising BCPs and coordinating the Sustainability & Business Ethics module.

 

In 2022-23 he travelled Latin America for 20 months and volunteered in various local NGOs in the domain of nature conservation, animal welfare, community development, permaculture and eco-tourism. In addition to academic degrees in Economics (BSc), Public Policy (MSc) and Sustainability Science (PhD), Lukas holds certifications as Consciousness Coach, Trainer in Non-violent Communication and as a Yoga teacher.

 

We would like to introduce Lukas to you via this Q&A. Let’s meet Lukas!

What is your connection with Maastricht?

As many other Germans, I came here in 2007 to study – Economics and Public Policy. But unlike most other German students, I stayed for a PhD and later for a Lecturer position at SBE until I left in 2022. So, this has been my home for almost 15 years. I met my wife here and still stay in touch with former colleagues and friends. Maastricht played an important role in my personal and professional development and the city will always have a special place in my heart.

What is your role within the MaastrichtMBA programme?

Currently, the MBA is my only remaining professional connection to Maastricht. I started getting involved during my four years working as a Lecturer at SBE (2017 – 2021), teaching in leadership development and sustainable business. After I left in 2022, I started supervising MBA students remotely for their Business Consulting Project – currently I supervise four of them.

 

In addition, I continue to serve as coordinator and lecturer in the Sustainability & Business Ethics module. I have done that in 2020 already with great success, but then in 2022 could not be involved. I am very happy that I can be involved again for this edition. My responsibilities are designing the programme, coordinating the other instructors and speakers, and coming up with the assignments.

Can you tell us a little bit more about your lectures in the programme?

Together with Daria and Diana of the MBA office I will open the module Monday morning. The purpose for the session will be twofold: introduce the students to the theme of the week in a very personal rather than an academic way and create strong bonds between the students.

 

The first ‘academic’ session will be on Tuesday on Sustainability Strategy. This session is based on various research and consulting projects from the last years and will help students understand different worldviews of and approaches to corporate sustainability. The underlying idea is that Business Sustainability can be understood as a cultural manifestation that is driven by many different socio-economic forces and unfolds in various ways.

 

One of the major forces is the European Green Deal – a package of policies that is aiming at nothing less than making Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. On Friday, I will give a session on one of those policies – the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). And to make it more concrete we will explore the concept and practice of Double Materiality Assessment, which is an integral aspect of the CSRD reporting process. While those topics can be very technical, I try to approach them rather from a strategic perspective – to understand what the implications are and how they may affect the competitive positioning of a company.

 

On Thursday, I will host a session for which we have invited four sustainability practitioners, who are working hands on making the sustainability transitions a reality: a CEO, Lobbyist, Social Entrepreneur and Consultant. In this session we will explore the question “what does it take to achieve Sustainability” through a serious of inspirational talks, a panel discussion and networking.

How do you think the world will look in the next few years regarding your teaching focus area?

The CSRD and other EU policies will accelerate the Sustainability Transition in Europe massively. The question will be: how fast, deep and radical will the transition really be? The times that business could dodge responsibility are over. If the reporting works out as envisioned, we will have transparency about business exposure to ESG risks and also about how businesses are impacting the environment and stakeholders. This makes me optimistic that major progress will be made until 2030.

 

At the same time, I think, that we will increasingly face climate and social disruptions and I really wonder whether and how societies and business will be able to respond. How resilient are our economics, social and political systems really? Time will tell. It is an exciting time to be alive.

What lessons have you learned during the last couple of years?

In 2022-2023 I travelled for 20 months with my wife in Latin America – from Mexico through Central America down to Ecuador. I have learned a lot of practical skills, such as horseback riding, scuba diving, surfing, yoga, hiking volcanoes, Spanish language skills and much more. During the trip we learned to take things slower and to really go with the flow.

 

But apart from the fun stuff we also volunteered in various sustainability-related projects and visited many beautiful places in nature. One key lesson was: in all the places the natural world is already being impacted by climate change and pollution – I encountered dying coral reefs at 20 meters below water, receding glaciers at 5000 meters above the sea, and beaches polluted with plastic waste. Places and people everywhere are adversely affected by increasing storms, rainfall, and droughts. It is one thing to read and hear about those issues, but another to witness this firsthand. I think a key insight for me was that even if those issues sometimes seem to be overwhelming, I still need and want to do everything I can to play my part in trying to be part of the solution.

What are you particularly proud of professionally?

Tough question. Maybe finishing the PhD. Three other PhD candidates who started with me in the same year sooner or later quit. And I also have been at the point, at which the biggest part of me just wanted to walk away. Also, I had to finance myself for the last 20 months while finishing since my contract had ended. But I kept going nevertheless and completed the project.

Would you like to share something personal with the readers?

I am a very curious person and like to try new things. For example, silly combinations on my breakfast bread, such as Nutella with pickles, or jam with mustard. My wife often rolls her eyes on me, when I do this – “Oh no, here we go again…”. Most of those combinations that seem weird actually do not taste very distinct, only a few are weird and some are unexpectedly tasty.

Dr. Lukas Figge-Muschalik
Lecturer
Sustainable Business
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