Managing Climate Solutions (MaCS-HSG) – New Master Certificate @HSG

The certificate program MaCS-HSG addresses one of the biggest societal challenges of our time. Climate change is now widely accepted by society and its consequences, such as extreme heat waves, droughts and rising sea levels, are increasingly being felt in our environment. But which solutions can be found to successfully combat climate change? 

This is the key question that must be answered by future leaders in business and society. In the future, it will be of the utmost relevance for economic actors to present and implement such solutions. Through the additional qualification "Managing Climate Solutions", students will complement their core master's program at the University of St. Gallen with specific courses that will enable them to understand the magnitude of the challenge, explore and apply the range of possible solutions, develop behavioral strategies and help shape a positive future in a low-carbon world. Future employers will recognize through the MaCS certificate that you have the knowledge and tools necessary to successfully implement climate solutions in your company or other organizations. 

The program starts for the first time in the fall semester 2020, is open to all Master's students at the HSG and can be completed within at least two semesters. The entire scope of the MaCS program comprises 24 ETCS points. The program consists of 3 blocks. The first block is the introductory course "Climate Solutions 101 (5 ETCS)" in the autumn semester, which combines a physical kick-off with blended learning elements and a compact course in the second week of the semester break. The second block comprises a series of elective courses (16 ETCS total) from various master programs at the University of St. Gallen. These electives can be selected from the three core areas (1) Climate and Sustainability, (2) Energy system transformation & Governance and (3) Low-carbon innovation. Students must complete at least one course per core area. The third block comprises the compulsory course "Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Climate Solutions (3 ETCS)" in the spring semester, in which students will put a specific climate solution into practice. The design of the program allows some of the electives to be credited to the students' Master's main degree. As a result, you don’t need to do 24 ETCS additionally. How many ETCS points from the second block can be credited to your Master's degree depends on the type of your Master's program. 

The closing date for your application is 30 June. Further information on MaCS can be found in our short MaCS-Video as well as further details on the application on the MaCS homepage.

Author: Alexander Stauch, 25.05.2020


Psychological support during Corona Crisis

In the seminar "Keeping sane during quarantine" with Dr. Florian Schultz, the chairman of the psychological counseling center at the University of St. Gallen, the students were informed about the correct way to deal with the current situation and could also ask concrete questions themselves. Among other things, tips were presented on how the students can maintain their ability to work and "stay behind the wheel" themselves in order to counteract an overwhelming effect of the corona crisis. During this time, it is important that we use our resources to deal with major challenges, such as limiting our lifestyle and social contacts, in the best possible way. Many people lack above all the appreciation of their fellow human beings and real interaction with each other. As social beings, we draw strength and meaning from supporting others. If this is missing in everyday life, we may experience a feeling of boredom, loss of purpose, and self-esteem as well as loneliness. Therefore, it is essential not to rely on one's own willpower to escape from this "low", but to reflect and accept that coping with the current situation is a challenge that requires energy and attention. It often helps to see the crisis as an opportunity to develop personally and to grow with the situation.

Essential for coping with the current situation is the development of routines. Instead of scrolling through the Instagram feed on your smartphone after getting up, it would be better to read something. Another idea is to write down your dreams in the morning or simply writ down your goals for the day, which you want to accomplish by the evening. Many people also find a "To-do list" helpful. Morning exercise is also a useful way to start the day full of energy. During the course of the day, consciously take time to do some self-reflection over a cup of coffee. Think about what you have experienced lately, what you have done for someone else, or what you can do better today than yesterday. In this way, you can create a certain framework for yourself and start the day well.

If you want to create effective work routines, it is important that you behave as if you were still at university or going to work. This includes leaving off your sweatpants and getting into your work outfit. To activate social resources, it can be helpful to simulate social normality. Make online appointments with your colleagues, friends, and family (cooking, eating, partying, working) and try actually to attend them. Try to keep a minimum of tension in your everyday life and to mobilize yourself regularly, even if finding a rhythm is often tricky. Nevertheless, it is perfectly okay to admit to yourself that in the long run, productivity is unlikely to be maintained compared to before the quarantine.

To avoid getting on the nerves of your roommates or your family, it is most vital that you lead arguments correctly. At the moment we all sit close together, more frequent arguments are quite usual in this context. But the way you argue is crucial. Don't try to generalize, but rather to name problems concretely. Speak directly to your conflict partner in the "me-form": "It affects me in this and that way...". It is also important to allow your fellow human beings to retreat.

If you want to avoid unwanted addictive behavior (alcohol, social media), don't trust your willpower alone. Do not negotiate with yourself, but block your access to such means, because it is hard to drink a beer if there is no beer at home. Together with your peers, motivate yourself to do something to replace addictive behavior with other activities. In general, it is often helpful to write down triggers for unwanted behavior and to become aware of how to interrupt this behavior.

In general, don't let yourself be dragged down, everything will pass – and so will the corona crisis. Take it step by step; think about what you want to do better and orientate yourself on it to create the best individual environment for yourself. But you are not alone, contact friends, colleagues, and family and let them help you - we're all in this together!

The whole seminar was recorded in German and can be rewatched in this team.

Author: Lorenz Oberrauch, 09.04.2020


Online courses evaluation

In the Instagram evaluation of the recently introduced e-learning classes on Canvas and Zoom, the students were mostly positive about the change. Specifically, the good organization of the units and the increased exchange between lecturers and students was perceived as positive. The suitability of the Zoom tool for group work was also emphasized, which generally offers students a good substitute for classroom teaching. In addition, the majority of those surveyed expressed their thanks to the teachers, who reacted quickly and flexibly to the changed teaching situation.

Suggestions for improvement were made by the students regarding the use of zoom instead of canvas, as this is clearly superior to the "Conference Tool". Many were also skeptical about the permanent need to sit in front of the computer and the increased workload resulting from the more intensive sessions. The difficulty of being able to concentrate in front of the screen for a longer period of time was also highlighted. In addition, there is the wish to be able to download the videos, which would allow a freer division of the learning workload. With regard to the provision of services, students increasingly expressed the request to switch from written work (paper) to online examinations.

Asked about existing problems in e-learning, the students stated that there were no state law courses. Likewise, not all lecturers seem to be sufficiently familiar with e-learning systems and therefore do not use all tools (e.g., drawing function). Also, with regard to quality, according to the students' information, there seem to be regular malfunctions due to poor Internet connections, from which not least, the motivation of the audience suffers. Especially with the language subjects, some fear for the quality of the teaching, as it suffers from the existing format (pronunciation is difficult to practice). Furthermore, because some students are socially involved both voluntarily and obligatory (e.g., military service) due to the current situation, there is a need to make recordings available for more than 30 days.

The just presented results were presented by SHSG President Florian Wußmann on 27.03.20 in the meeting of the Corona Task Force. 

Thanks for your feedback!

Author: Lorenz Oberrauch, 02.04.2020


Course adjustments: "Fundamentals and Methods of Computer Science for Business Studies"

In the course of various feedbacks during the last year, the board member of representation of interests and studies from the student union met with the program management of the BBWL and the people responsible for the course "Fundamentals and Methods of Computer Science for Business Studies" to discuss the status quo of the course. After the ad-hoc introduction of an SHSG Computer Science Tutorial to support business students, the students wrote recommendations for action based on an evaluation among the participants, which we sent to the responsible persons. Three core problems, in particular, emerged:

  1. congruence of theoretical basics and weekly assignments: Many students stated that the material is not communicated clearly enough in the lectures and that there is no connection between the lectures and the assignments.
  2. excessive demands on the students: Students stated that more focus on the basics was desired; many intermediate steps essential for a successful learning process were simply skipped or assumed. In addition, the expectations were too high, especially in the assignments, which were far too complicated for an "introductory course"; the syllabus was based on an incorrect or too high level of knowledge of the students.
  3. SHSG Computer Science Tutorat as a supplementary offer: A tutorial like the one offered by the SHSG would be helpful. Furthermore, some students requested that the exercises and tutorials be held in small groups.

After receiving our recommendations for action, Prof. Dr. Simon Mayer contacted the student union again with the concrete implementations for FS20. These include the following points:

  • Tutorial design: In HS19, tutorials were responsible for introducing the new exercises, discussing the previous exercise, discussing other parts of the material, and the actual tutorial (= supporting the students in solving the tasks). We have now transferred as many of these elements as possible into the lecture so that there will be considerably more time in the tutorials in FS20 to respond to students' questions. In addition, we have increased the number of tutors to 32 people. Of these, 27 are assigned to specific rooms, and 5 others act as "jumpers" and will provide support where it is most needed. It is important that students take advantage of these offers.
  • Congruence theory/practice: The same measure would have to help in this matter, which we have also noticed. The exercises will now be presented and introduced as part of the lecture, so the reference will be much more visible, and at the same time, as described above, the tutorials will be relieved.
  • Excessive demands: The course will remain the most elaborate course for the students in FS20 - the program management of the BA-BWL has instructed us to make an effort appropriate to the 8 ECTS points. However, there are three changes that should lead to some relief: (1) We have redesigned the first two weeks and the first two exercises so that the learning curve is flatter at the beginning. (2) Will the discussion of the exercises in the lectures inevitably lead to a loss of content. (3) We have to focus on active expectation management because in HS19, many students were already left behind after a short time - many are not used to investing so much time in exercises during the semester. We have made it clear here that learning in this course does not take place by learning after the semester, but by "keeping up" with the practical exercises during the semester. This staying on is an investment - the exam in FCS is, in our opinion, very easy for students who have solved the exercises well (e.g., a lot of code comprehension which can only be learned through practical exercises).
  • Copying solutions and frustration: Especially from week five on, we saw high frustration in HS19 with very high exercise scores at the same time. Many students reported plagiarism or even ghostwriting of the exercises, which, of course, does not correspond to our idea of practical practice. Therefore, we (1) changed the grading scheme from 70:30 to 20:80 to take the pressure off the practical exercises and (2) the practical exercises are no longer graded directly, but graded quizzes are held during the semester according to the deadlines of the respective exercises in order to assess the learning progress. These measures should help to make the grading fairer by eliminating plagiarism; on the other hand, of course, this gives the students more self-responsibility: it is absolutely necessary to work on the exercises during the semester. Otherwise, the exam will not be passed! Even though the exercises (via the quizzes) only account for 20% of the final grade.

In order to assess the effectiveness of these measures, the student union continues to rely on student feedback so that the interest group can continue to exert influence in the future. For specific points, please contact: interessenvertretung@shsg.ch

Author: Alessandro Massaro, 30.03.2020


Mensa & theCube evaluation

Due to the new contract with Migros as the HSG caterer, they have adjusted their services. More and different menus have been introduced, and theCube has also been introduced for the fall semester 2019. For that, we received positive feedback from the general student community. To further improve the offer, we carried out an evaluation on our Instagram account, where students could give feedback. In addition to the positive feedback, there was also feedback on what can be improved or what is still missing. This was done for theCube and the Mensa in general.

A significant concern among the students was cheaper or better coffee. The price of hot water is also perceived to be overpriced, as is the price of soft drinks. Lactose-free or vegan milk is requested for the coffee, and Chai Latte and El Tony are also requested in the range. A demand for returnable coffee cups was also expressed. In the food sector, a desire for more vegan options has been expressed. These include vegan snacks, vegan sandwiches, more fruits, and generally more healthy menu alternatives. A more extensive choice for dinner is also desired. In the B-Mensa more choices are also requested, such as more bread and sandwiches. In addition, students feel that the food is too expensive. For the menu assortment, there were requests for Schnitzel & Pommes or Pizza and more salads. The food should also be packed with less plastic or in paper to use resources in a more environmentally friendly way.

At theCube, many students expressed the wish for more 0.5l drinks, because the range currently includes many 1l / 1.5l drinks, which can be unfavorable in certain cases. Besides, a wider range of drinks was requested, such as zero-calorie soft drinks, energy drinks, or a hot water dispenser. As far as food is concerned, a wider choice was also requested, such as more snacks (cottage cheese, Salt n Vinegar Chips, "Schoggistängeli") or more fresh fruits and vegetables, or that they are refilled more often. A wish was also expressed for finished products or warm-up products, as well as sandwiches, toast, bread, meat, bananas, and protein products. Menstrual products and office materials should also be included in the range.

Other improvements, which do not concern the product range, were also expressed — for example, longer opening hours and also more opening days. At the checkout, a scan function of the Cumulus card was suggested, and receipt printing only on request. Furthermore, it was noticed that the scanner often does not work properly.

These remarks were summarized and will be discussed at the next mensa commission meeting, which is on the 26th of March.

Author: Silvan Kneubühler, 18.02.2020


START Hackademy

This year's START Hackademy took place from 10th until the 14th of February 2020. START Hackademy is a week-long advanced coding program, which was co-organized by START Global and SHSG for the first time this year. During the Hackademy, participants work in groups to solve coding challenges related to technology and business topics. The week started with a refresher of key programming paradigms and an introduction to this year's coding challenges. Each coding challenge consisted of a conceptual overview of the three focal topics (Smart Cities, Health Tech, and Working World 4.0) and several data sets to kickstart the development process. Over the course of five days, the 25 participants worked in groups of three and developed a software solution that addresses a key challenge of their chosen topic. On the final day, each group presented their projects and demonstrated a prototype. We were particularly impressed with the student projects of the development of a software solution implementing machine learning for recognizing patterns in traffic accidents (Smart Cities case), and the development of an API which can be utilized to geolocate defibrillators in an urban environment (Health Tech case), as well as many other interesting solutions. The participants of this year's START Hackademy are well prepared for the START Hack taking place in March 2020 and extremely eager to compete for the main prize.

Author: Camillo Visini, 18.02.2020