DURHAM, N.C. –  A customized short course, created this summer by the Duke Environmental Leadership (DEL) Program, is helping South American mining company Minera Antares maximize sustainable and inclusive business practices in its operations.

The course, which was developed through DEL’s Executive Education program, provided on-site leadership and project management for 14 Minera Antares engineers, social scientists and managers. It was held over a four-day period in July at the company’s headquarters in Arequipa, Peru.

The DEL program worked with three Duke University faculty members to create the course’s curriculum in response to the company’s request for help in identifying new and better ways to engage with local communities in Latin America and embed sustainability into its institutional practices.

“Minera Antares wanted to move beyond traditional notions of social and environmental responsibility, which can be limiting, and give its staff the tools and leadership skills needed to integrate sustainable business strategies and community engagement strategies into its operations more effectively,” said Allison Besch, director of executive education programs at DEL.

A key focus of the course was providing the 14 engineers, social scientists and managers with a toolbox of resources, including policy frameworks, case study references and management strategies, to enable them to maximize sustainable and inclusive business practices in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world. VUCA is a strategic management concept first developed by the U.S. military and now widely used by businesses, government agencies and nonprofits worldwide.

“Using the VUCA prism as a framework for integrated leadership in a rapidly changing world allowed us to create a flexible training program that will help Minera Antares engage with local communities, embed sustainability into its core practices and achieve its operational goals for years to come,” Besch said.    

The short-course curriculum was created by Elizabeth Shapiro-Garza, assistant professor of the practice of environmental management and policy at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment; Dan Vermeer, executive director of Duke’s Center for Energy, Development and the Global Environment at the Fuqua School of Business; and Francis Lethem, director of the Duke Center for International Development at the Sanford School of Public Policy.

Wayne Mayer, a strategic corporate social responsibility executive based in Lima, Peru, was lead instructor for the on-site training. Mayer received his PhD from Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment in 2006 and is an adjunct professor at the Peruvian University of Applied Sciences in Lima, and William Peace University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Besch and Laura Lipps, executive education program assistant at DEL, traveled to Arequipa and took part in the training as well.  

The DEL Executive Education Program has created custom short courses for clients such as Boston Scientific, Duke Power Company, Rayonier, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, The Nature Conservancy, The World Bank, the U.S. Army National Guard, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Parametrix and Westvaco.

You can learn more about the program here, or by contacting DEL at del@nicholas.duke.edu.