Oikos International

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oikos International
Oikos International.jpg
MottoBe informed, get involved, make a difference!
Founded1998 (1987) at University of St. Gallen in Switzerland
TypeStudent organisation
FieldsSustainable management and economics

oikos International is an international student organization that seeks to strengthen sustainability-oriented entrepreneurship among tomorrow's leaders and decision makers, by sensitising students of economics and management to sustainable development issues. Currently oikos International has 50 Local Chapters in 24 countries around the world, which collectively accredit it with an outreach of more than 50,000 students.[1] oikos activities comprise the organisation of lectures, conferences, simulation games, field trips, and workshops as well as practice-oriented sustainability projects with a focus on environmental issues in economics and management. Most of those activities are conducted on a local level and vary depending on a Chapter. However, oikos has a number of global international projects with the goal of increasing awareness of sustainability challenges and opportunities, developing analytical skills of students and increasing the impact of oikos organisation.

According to the Constitution of oikos International that came into effect in 2007, oikos is a "neutral, non-political and non-religious organisation offering a non-partisan platform for discussion on sustainability" that has "no commercial interest".[2] In order to channelize and heighten the competencies of its members in the field of sustainable development, oikos "increases awareness for sustainability opportunities and challenges focusing on students of Management and Economics; fosters their ability not only to analyse long-term economic, environmental and social trends, but also implement sustainability-driven innovation; and creates institutional support for these learning processes through the integration of sustainability issues in research and teaching at the world’s faculties for Management and Economics".


The first oikos chapter, what is today known as oikos St. Gallen was founded on 17 July 1987 at the University of St. Gallen. The original name of the organisation was "oikos - Die umweltökonomische Studenteninitiative an der Universität St. Gallen" (Student's initiative for environmental economics). Activities of oikos St.Gallen, consisting of organisation of conferences, workshops and speeches with the participation of academics and representatives of business and society helped to integrate issues of environmental protection to the curricula of economic and management courses at its home University. Furthermore, it contributed to the foundation of several organisations with the focus on ecology, such as Swiss Association for Ecological Management, Institute for Economy and the Environment and others.[3]

In 1990, oikos Foundation was organised. The main purpose of the Foundation is to ideate and enhance the integration of ecology related issues into scientific research of the economics and management.

oikos International, the "umbrella" organisation of all oikos branches in the world, was established by 5 Local Chapters in 1998. It is headquartered in the city where the first oikos Chapter was founded - in St.Gallen, Switzerland. Among the reasons of setting up of the head organisation of oikos was to coordinate and facilitate communication between Local Chapters, to support their work and activities and also to catalyze the opening of new Chapters.

Organisational structure[edit]

oikos organisation consists from 3 main levels. The governing organisation is oikos International, headquartered in St.Gallen. It is governed by the Executive Board and supported by the Advisory Council. Once a year a President of oikos International is elected from members of Local Chapters of the organization (approved by voting procedure by all Local Chapters). International Advisory Council consists from representatives of business, politics, non-governmental organisations and other groups. The main role of the Advisors is to help to the operations of the whole oikos by providing support in the planning of specific activities of the organisation and its overall strategy, by connecting members of oikos with the representatives of businesses and society and by supporting funding efforts.

The main activities of oikos International include organisation of a number of international events, conferences and workshops and guidance and coordination of the whole development of oikos. Besides of that oikos International aims to assist to the advancement of Local Chapters at the early stage of their development, to provide the organisational "know-how", IT-infrastructure and promotional materials to its local branches and to help to Local Chapters to install contacts with key decision makers at their regions.

Local Chapters of oikos are root elements of the organisation - they conduct the majority of all activities of oikos International. Chapters consist of students interested in fields of ecological protection and sustainable development in economics and management. Main goals of Chapters are to integrate issues of sustainability into curricula of home Universities in order to make it one of the main elements of student formation and to engage local students into the activities and interests of oikos International. Chapters organize their operations independently from oikos International in order to achieve common goals of the organisation.

oikos Foundation for economy and ecology is part of oikos International. Its focus lies on financial and institutional support of the activity of oikos organisation. This body is governed by oikos Foundation Council and it works closely with the Swiss Institute for Economy and the Environment.

Programmes and Projects[edit]

Most of the projects of oikos are conducted on local levels and organized by particular Chapters of the organisation. However, there's a number of international projects as well.

Spring meetings[edit]

Meetings of members of different Chapters of oikos around the world that take place in one of the cities where branches of oikos are situated. Goals of those meetings are to exchange experience and ideas about managing different chapters of oikos as well as to draw on future steps on the development of the organisation and on its strategy. Mostly those annual meetings consist from speeches and conferences of the members as well as from public lectures of representatives of business, society and politics and visits of relevant companies. Last Spring meeting of oikos took place in Hamburg, at the end of March 2017, with the main topic on Sustainable Consumption. The spring meeting 2018 is organized by oikos Barcelona and takes places in March 2018.

Winter School[edit]

Winter School of oikos is an international event that takes place every year since 2004 and accepts 20 to 30 participants with educational backgrounds in economics or management. The main intention of Winter Schools is not only to share the knowledge and insights in the area of sustainable development but also to promote the goals and values of oikos and to contribute to further expansion of the organisation. In their essence programmes of Winter Schools are very interactive and consist of lectures, discussions and workshops on the projects development where sustainability plays a critical role. The next 11th Winter School takes place in March 2018 in Germany on the topic of sustainable development cooperation.

Summer School[edit]

The oikos Summer School is international project started by oikos Tbilisi chapter in 2014. It takes an entrepreneurial and leadership view on sustainable development. It enables its broad base of participants to, for example:

– explore innovative approaches to leadership for a better world,

– reflect on their own leadership skills and attributes,

– get practical experience of working collaboratively with others – and reflect on their team-working skills,

– design and deliver learning sessions on a topic that’s important to them.

Last oikos Summer School took place in Tbilisi State University in August 2016 on the topic of "Education for a better world".

Regional Meetings[edit]

oikos Chapters are also organize regional meetings gathering students and academia representatives of their regions discussing different topics related to sustainability. So far oikos Chapters organize Asia Meet, Central and Eastern European Meeting, Francophone Meeting, Germany Meeting.


Project was launched in 2011 as an interactive platform for student members of oikos, alumni, advisors, faculty and partners of the organisation. The goal of the Lab is to help to design new initiatives in the area of sustainable development and to foster their implementation. Apart from profound discussions on the ideas of new projects, FutureLab meetings address personal and organisational impact of oikos and identifies opportunities for strengthening the organisation and its global influence. The next FutureLab will take a place in October 2017 in St.Gallen, Switzerland, celebrating its 30 years anniversary.

Case Writing Competition[edit]

The project is launched together with the nonprofit US-based organisation Ashoka. The goal is to promote creation of the high-quality business cases with the topics on sustainable development and social entrepreneurship that could be used by students and university professors. The project originated in 2003. Among all submitted cases that are examined by the international panel of leading faculty are chosen 3 winners and 2 runners-up. All winning cases are published online after the competition. Apart from the Ashoka this project is also supported by the European Case Clearing House, Humanet (www.humanetwork.org) and Caseplace.org.

Young Scholars Academies[edit]

oikos created a number of academies for PhD students and young faculty with the goal to assist them in creation of scientific works and development of projects as well as to provide them with academic networking opportunities. There are now five academies: Young Scholars Entrepreneurship Academy, Young Scholars Organizations Academy, Young Scholars Economics Academy, PRI Young Scholars Finance Academy and UNDP Young Scholars Development Academy. In order to participate in one of the Academies of oikos, students need to write a scientific paper and submit it to the relevant programme they are interested in. Selected winners will present their research at the annual academy meeting, will participate in round-tables and conferences and will be provided with feedback from three faculty from world leading universities.

oikos Student Awards[edit]

Once a year oikos organisation awards outstanding student projects in the areas of sustainability and entrepreneurship. Competing projects should have a long-lasting impact on the change in curricula of the Institutions of higher education and/or impact on the areas of Sustainable Campus. Besides money compensation, winners receive an invitation to the Winter School of oikos International where they receive support on further development of their project ideas.

PhD Fellowship Programme[edit]

This programme is directed at the PhD students who are interested in conducting their thesis researches in the area of sustainable development and economics at the University of St. Gallen. Students that are accepted to the programme besides research on the thesis work at the different institutes of the University with the goal to contribute to the further integration of issues of sustainability into the curricula of the HSG and its major research activities. The programme is supervised by the international Advisory Board of oikos. Students that have been selected to the programme receive the grant for 3 years to finish their PhD studies and thesis.

Project Development Fund[edit]

The goal of the fund is to provide support to the local branches of Oikos in realisation of their new projects and ideas. Local office of Oikos after formation of a concept of a project can address the headquarters to receive detailed feedback and recommendations within 4 weeks. After implementing recommended changes, chapter can readdress Oikos International, and the latter will decide whether the new project will be supported or/and funded by the headquarters. The fund is implemented through donations to the organisation. Those donations are matched by one of the corporate partners of the Oikos International, GLS Bank.

oikos LEAP[edit]

oikos LEAP[4] is designed to inspire young leaders to become more responsible in their decision making and equip them with insights, knowledge and tools to do so. oikos LEAP challenges participants to reflect on themselves and their values. Whilst adopting and sharing the lessons learnt in their chapters, participants practice sustainable leadership. The result is strengthened chapter performance and greater impact in line with the oikos mission. These basics will, moreover, accompany participants throughout their lives and result in change towards sustainability. To summarize this purpose, we chose to name this program LEAP, in order to collectively and eagerly leap forward to a world of more sustainable leadership.

oikos Associates[edit]

oikos Associate positions are research positions within oikos, focussing on a specific topical area and running for at least 6 months and up to a year. oikos Associates compile in-depth reports on their topic, first and foremost relating it to sustainability. The Associate position is a grant to highly motivated individuals from within and outside the oikos community to bring added value to the international team and the external financing institution. The Associate program was started in 2016.

oikos-PRME Research Hub[edit]

Research Hub is an online platform to share research on sustainability in economics, finance, and management among bachelor, master and PhD students worldwide.

Writing a thesis is an important milestone in our time as students. It is also a key element in our studies that we have significant influence on: choosing a thesis topic puts us in the driving seat in defining our own curricula! A growing number of students in economics, finance and management are making sustainability an integral pillar of their thesis. They are not only shaping their own research agenda, but are also providing important impulses and inspiration for others to move in that direction.

The oikos-PRME Research Hub is designed to support this dynamic by providing a platform to share finalized or ongoing research on sustainability in economics, finance and management, to explore what others are doing in the field – and to be informed, get involved and make a difference!

List of Local Chapters (international groups)[edit]

oikos International is currently best represented in Europe.






  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-14. Retrieved 2012-07-29.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-04-25. Retrieved 2012-07-29.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-08-17. Retrieved 2012-07-29.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "LEAP". oikos. Retrieved 2017-10-21.

External links[edit]