Banal Nationalism

In a multicultural classroom, the national boundaries may dissolve very quickly. Only if everyone understood that we all have some personal identifications to our national structures and our national culture. And one should not judge others for such identifications. Individually students and teachers may have a personal identification with their own national identity. Because of which students may or may not be comfortable discussing a few things about their nation in the classroom. It might be a reason for someone to judge. As a teacher, my own reflection on my own identity and my own process of identification of my national identity may help me to understand this process. Also, this stops me from over judging the students.  The challenge is to keep these identifications under control in a classroom setting. As a teacher, I need to be even more responsible for the classroom teaching to ensure learning beyond the national boundaries.


As a teacher, I try to use the multicultural classroom to my benefit. Especially during the discussions, I encourage students to share examples from their own countries. For example, once I was mentioning about car sharing model in Germany to explain boundaries of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). There were some exchange students from Germany in the class who started smiling. They immediately identified the phenomena and were happy to explain the phenomena to the rest of the class. This encouraged active participation in the class. Students identify with examples that are local to their nation. But sometimes student associate shame and stigma with specific examples from a certain region. For example, a student from India may find it very difficult to explain child labor or cases related to social injustice. As a teacher I need to understand these tensions and awkwardness around specific example in the class.  I need to handle it in a more relaxed way providing them some context and why it is necessary to know about that example with some positive twist.

The aim was to write about my practical experience with Banal nationalism. But I suppose this more of my personal thoughts about the situation when one has to deal with banal nationalism.

Reflection on EMI teaching

A couple of weeks back I along with Dr. Marjo Siltaoja taught a course about – Managing a green organization. Marjo was teaching about the leadership and human issues, while I was teaching the environmental management systems (EMS) and practical aspects of implementing a green strategy in an organization. Leadership and human issues were taught first, and then I introduced the class with the EMS.

The teaching material included EMS standards (EMAS standards and ISO 14001 standards, GRI indicators) and PowerPoint slides.

One of the significant challenges for me during the course was not to make it a monologue. As the guidelines are of hundreds of pages and explaining them can be very mechanical or robotic in nature. I was teaching this for the first time, I was very tensed about how to deal with this situation. As a student, I never enjoyed monologues and non-stop instructions.

Another challenge was to relate all that I was teaching with what Marjo had already explained in the class.

To deal with the first issue, I divided my class into two parts. The first half would be a monologue and instructions for about 30 minutes. In the second half in groups students picked one company from different industries (For example Nuclear power plant, a paper mill, a clothes manufacturing company, etc.). I came up with a set of guiding questions, that might help the students to deal with implementing these EMS guidelines in real jobs. I asked the students to answer these guiding questions for implementing an EMS for the chosen company. During these group discussions, I would go to each group and ask them to explain to me their approach, where I would challenge them and push them beyond their present thinking. Also, I noted interesting questions and ideas that were discussed with the individual group and shared them collectively at the beginning of the next class.

This approach, gave the students an idea about practical challenges while implementing an EMS. Also, how to find the right indicators from the guidelines.

To deal with the second challenge, I would ask them some direct questions during the group discussion, how would they as leaders deal with a particular situation and ask them to reflect on what they learned in the first half of the course. Further during the last class, I invited the ex-global Sustainability Director of Nokia, to share his experiences and challenges as a leader to manage sustainability at a global level. This interaction was exciting, as students came up with interesting questions that they were trying to deal during the group discussions and got some excellent answers from real life experiences.

Another practical issue that I noticed very quickly in the first class was that students were not familiar with specific terms. I was expecting that the master’s student would be familiar with terms like benchmarking, the scope of carbon emissions and a few more. Anyhow, during the first class, I could notice blank faces in my classroom when I was talking about benchmarking. Then I explained them the term and asked them to stop me whenever I used an unfamiliar term. I was thinking that the class would be shy to stop me, but luckily that was not the case.

To summarize, my EMI was based on short monologues that provided instructions, then reflection on the teachings in groups and answering questions and discussion with the teacher and sharing of the learnings with rest of the class.

First post – Introduction

Hello Everyone!

This is a wonderful class and there is so much to learn and reflect from these classes. I am Bhavesh Sarna. I have a doctoral student at business school working in the Sustainable business group under the subgroup of Corporate Environmental Management (CEM). My research is about the identification of organizational paradoxes at the micro-level caused because of the different understanding of organizational Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies by individual employees.

As a student, I have studied in many places. I did my Bachelors in Technology from India, then a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from New Zealand and Master’s in CEM from Jyväskylä. I have seen teachers with very different teaching styles, I always wondered how will my own teaching experience be. You never know until you actually step into the shoes of a teacher and stand in front of the students to make an attempt to teach them. Last semester I got the opportunity to teach, which was such an excellent learning experience. Having those classes as my reference points, I feel that I have a lot to reflect upon and learn a lot in this class from the teachers and the fellow students (or teachers).

I have never done blogging before. So, I am picking on my reflective thoughts and presenting them here.

Looking forward to the next class.

Thanks for having me in the class.