Publish at September 05 2022 Updated September 05 2022

When youth exit the program

To rebel against a system that destroys the planet

Carried away by the storm

The Youth/Company Dialogue

Some "young people" who are doomed to the hot hell of a capitalist world of unbridled consumption are rebelling.

Many of them refuse to work in companies whose only stake is profit for profit's sake, and a survey reveals their pessimism. Companies have a hard time attracting them to them. They strive to enhance their "employer brand" to show the quality of their societal commitments. Setting up a gym is no longer enough, neither is a "relaxed culture" without too much hierarchy. Because if the managerial form is sometimes softened, the fundamentals remain. It's all about making profit to grow ever more.

New entrants to the world of work are particularly sensitive to climate issues, they no longer believe in the frantic headlong rush proposed as the only way to salvation. Technology yes, but with a dose of responses according to the situation. Economic development yes, but with a surplus of meaning and human respect.

The tribune of the «grandes écoles»

Young French people from prestigious schools take advantage of graduation ceremonies to denounce their study programs that reinforce the advances of the economic system in place. It's a direct attack on the system by those who are supposed to take positions of authority and influence over said system.

At Agrosup, a prestigious agricultural school that advocates intensive agricultural productivism, it's an indictment of the model based on chemical inputs and overconsumption of water (70% of freshwater consumption) that is denounced at the graduation.

In the aftermath, the young, freshly graduated agricultural engineers leave to settle in the Tarn to experiment with alternative production models. Their initiative was variously received, some members of their class even issued a press release to disassociate themselves from these minority agitators and reaffirm their beliefs in a techno-productivist model and their faith in progress. This constancy is surprising when this agriculture, which consumes a lot of water, is being singled out in the middle of a heat wave.

But the agricultural school is not the only one to let protests filter through. Thus, HEC,  a major French business school, also welcomes its share of demands with student outburstsbut certainly also a conciliatory look from the administration. One of the schools, which is particularly expensive to get into, sees recriminations always appearing in its midst at graduations, thinly veiled against capitalism and its deleterious effects.

This is not without salt, when we know that precisely the business schools train the future elites of this world and that their origin in the nineteenth century coincides with an acceleration of the expansion of this economic model. The children of the bourgeoisie of the time were trained to keep accounts and do business.

In the register of young graduates who express in their graduation speeches all their distrust, it is necessary to note always in France, the diatribe of political science students who, for some of them, also denounce an iniquitous society producing major imbalances. These students from the institute of political studies preparing high political leaders or the high civil service, traditionally represent the elite of future rulers.

Engineers are also caught up in doubt and Clément Choisne, a fresh graduate of Centrale Nantes, declares "I am lost, unable to recognize myself in the promise of life as a senior executive in an essential cog of a capitalist system of overconsumption."

Similarly, students at the prestigious Polytechnic are calling for more sobriety. These exits during celebrations of flawless course, of brilliant students, shows on the one hand that a critical sense exists in these schools, since divergent thoughts manage to express themselves, which is good news. On the other hand, they present, in an emblematic way, the major issues of our time.

Stakes of food production and mode of feeding, stakes of deregulated economic and financial systems, stakes of political disaffection that limit the possibilities of correction of existing systems, technological headlong rush. These issues are intertwined and produce a world now described as the Anthropocene so heavy has the human footprint become.

We are not in the protesting or even pre-revolutionary situation of the 1960s for example in France with 1968 or the fever had seized hundreds of thousands of students, producing a violent revolt and vigorously marking the entry into the era of mass consumption but the signal given from these prestigious schools and in a very practical way is the avoidance of the career choices of certain companies known to be polluting.

An alternative direction is pointed out that Antonio Guterres secretary general of the United Nations, who encourages young people not to work for polluting companies. 

Beyond these graduates, many young people from all walks of life and all over the planet are yearning for radical changes and different agendas for action that will require a major change in the educational programs that have been offered to them so far.

Illustration: DepositPhotos


L'express how young people see the world 

L'Alsace. Young people have a major role in changing society  

The world. I'm afraid for my future and the future of the planet. What young people are thinking ahead of the presidential election. 

Water France 

Iaea. Water management in agriculture 

AOC On the desertion of graduate students  

Ouest France. "Technology will not save us!" Graduates of Polytechnique, they alert on the climate  

Le Figaro. The grandes écoles face the demands of the climate generation  

Ouest France. Trained at HEC, she takes advantage of her graduation to alert on the climate emergency - Ecologist speech at HEC, the backstage of the stunt revealed by its protagonists  

Brut Media. These young people from around the world have a message for their governments  

Novethic. UN's Antonio Guterres urges students not to work for climate destroyers  

RFI Climate: the astonishing speech of a freshly graduated French engineer 

When Management and the Environment Pair - Patricia Hluchy - University Affairs - August 2022

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