Sustainable Mindset Chain of Change.


Promoting sustainable development by making a positive impact on the main economical, technological and political global challenges.

In our modern society and globalized world, humanity face enormous challenges that compromise a sustainable future for the next generations. The speed of change we are experiencing in recent decades, stimulated by innovation and emerging technologies, requires an analysis of interconnected dynamics and their implications to sustainability.

In this context, the IE School of Global and Public Affairs is promoting sustainable development by creating an international ecosystem that promotes global governance, economic prosperity, political justice and cultural vibrancy. The school has become an innovative environment where knowledge producers, educators and talented future professionals experiment and discuss the main challenges of our society.

The Agenda 2030 represents the first time in human history that all nations of the world agree on a comprehensive vision, with clear goals and targets, for the sustainable development on our planet. Our Master and Bachelor programs incorporate these common goals and values and train future policymakers, business leaders, academicians or social society leaders to mobilize the public and private sector for sustainable progress.


  • Description

    Universities may play a critical role in the promotion of sustainable development as knowledge producers, trainers and creators of a safe environment in which to experiment and discuss.

    Our Bachelors in International Relations, Duals (BBABIR & LLBBIR) and Bachelor in Economics train global leaders who can manage cultural, technological, political and economic changes in order to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. We have almost 1000 students who will become policymakers, business leaders, society leaders and academicians who mobilize society for a sustainable development.

  • Courses related to sustainability

    The Bachelor in International Relations combines courses in history, economics, political science, international relations, politics, governance or management in incorporating specific courses that tackle sustainability in its different dimensions:

    • Peace Building and Crisis Management
    • Transitional Justice
    • Global Development Institutions
    • Business, Economics, and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa
    • Innovation for Sustainable Development
    • Humanity’s Grand Challenges
    • Preventing Violent Extremism
    • International Negotiation: Skills and Practicum
    • The Future of Healthcare: Innovation, Economics, and Biotechnology
    • New Technology, Human Rights, and Humanitarian Law
    • Hacking the Social Contract
    • Ethics in the Information Age

    The Bachelor in Economics combines macro and microeconomics, trade, development, data analysis, finance, behavioral economics, machine learning incorporating specific content that tackle sustainability in its different dimensions on financial analysis for business or in country sector and policy analysis

  • Sustainability capstone projects

    The consultancy-oriented projects and applied research (Capstones) are group-based consultancy projects where students practice applied-research with outside partners. Our students in International Relations are working on projects, which tackle some the challenges of sustainable like the following:

    Spanish Congress | Monitor public expenditures for the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

    Mela Pads (Social Enterprise Ethiopia) | Develop the marketing and business plan or MELA, a social startup enterprise based in Ethiopia that produces sustainable and affordable menstrual products, while creating job opportunities for vulnerable women and contributing to a plastic free environment.

    Run for Africa (Social Entreprise Ethiopia) | Develop the international partnership strategy, and product development plan of Run For Africa. A social african enterprise that provides high quality, environmentally friendly, and sustainable tour and travel services that meet full international standards accompanied with unparalleled customer services. We believe in promoting responsible travel with maximum respect to the environment, local culture and economy while creating opportunities for cultural and value exchange among people.

    Fundacion Recover Hospitales para Africa | Develop the landscape analysis on health system management in different countries in Africa. Fundacion recover is a non-profit organization that strives to bring sustainable healthcare services to sub-Saharan Africa.

    United Nations World Food Programme | Develop a multi-year partnerships for the UN World Food Program with the private sector in Spain, so the organization can improve the humanitarian assistance provided in the main emergency global crisis.

    Puentes Global | Develop best practices promoting (self-)employment among immigrant and refugees in Spain.

    International Committee of the Red Cross | Explore the possibility to build a new Digital Platform owned and managed by the International Comitte of the Red Cross, for affected and vulnerable populations in conflicts to self-register and access humanitarian services, with the objective to increase the reach to more people, in a safe and secure way.

    United Nations Global Compact – Cities Program | The United Nations Global Compact -Cities Program is the initiative promoted by UN Global Compact to promote public – private collaboration to advance the 10 principles of UN Global Compact and the Sustainble Development Goals in cities and territories all around the world. Students will analyse the mobilization of financing for SDG with private sector contributions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda.

  • UN and SDG Speaker series

    The United Nations (UN) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Speaker Series is a new initiative brought to the Bachelor students in coordination with the IE School of Global and Public Affairs and the UN Staff College. Each semester various UN Staff members are visiting our Segovia and Madrid campuses and share their knowledge and experience with the students in sustainable development.

  • IE Transformational Journey

    This is a study trip prepared by the IE School of Global and Public Affairs for students in international relations who have the opportunity to enhance their learning in sustainability by traveling across Nepal and Bhutan.  Lasting 17 days, it is an unparalleled opportunity for students to gain a global perspective and witness first-hand what life is like in different countries around the world. Among other activities, students trekked through the Himalayas whilst learning about leadership, team building, and acquiring other soft skills. They also met with the developers of the Bhutan Gross National Happiness Index and learn about the environmental policies that become Bhutan, a country not   only carbon neutral, but carbon negative.

  • Policy Lab

    The Policy Lab is a collaborative space where students work together on sustainability policy-related projects. The objective of this lab is to introduce students to the broad world of policy and all that it encompasses. The Policy Lab is a ‘do tank’, not a think tank, in which students learn by working on real projects with our partners in the private, non-profit, or public sector. They work throughout the year and, once the academic course is over, work intensively in June to complete the project.


  • Description

    The clearest reference to sustainability and the role education plays in shaping young minds to be forward thinking and conscious of growth in economy and business is through the joint degree with the United Nations Systems Staff College and IE GPA.

    The Master in International Development (MID) tackles the complex challenges of today through the lense of sustainable actions and clear goals and objectives outlined through the SDGs.  This Master provides students with the essential foundations in sustainable development concepts and methods and gives students a comprehensive understanding of the political, social and policy factors that affect the sustainability of programs and projects.

    The Master in International Relations (MIR), the Master in Public Administration (MPA) and the Executive Master in International Trade (EMIT) incorporate sustainability in their courses and in the design of the program.

  • Courses related to sustainability

    In the Master in International Development (MID), beyond learning how to address financial and organizational issues, students gain a thorough understanding of the current state of global development and build the skills to develop innovative, long-term solutions to reducing poverty and hunger, promoting human equality and conserving the environment.  Additionally, students have the opportunity to take courses in project planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

    In addition to the MID, sustainability is further developed in the content of the Master in International Relations (MIR) and the Executive Master in International Trade (EMIT)  in the following subjects:

    • Corporate social responsibility which has purely focused on sustainability,
    • International Political Economy touches on the impact on climate change,
    • International Finance and Monetary Theory discusses green bonds and sustainable finance,
    • Climate Politics and Environmental Sustainability specifically addresses the SDG addressing climate change,
    • Trade and Development and Agenda 2030 in the EMIT: apart from analyzing the important role trade can play in a country’s economic development, and whether this positive impact is categorical or contingent, this course also explores the role of women in worldwide economic growth.

    In an effort to be conscious of the planet, students opted out of printed cases and articles for their classes and access all course materials online.


    Students are also able to take the theory into practice through workshops and capstone projects focused on sustainability.

    In the MID specifically, student projects are targeting issues in climate, healthcare, anticorruption, refugee crisis as well as the strategy to implement the SDGs which address some of the world’s greatest challenges. This program has also enabled the students to work closely with organizations such as UNITAR, UN World Food Programme, Transparency International, Fundacion Recover Hospitales para Africa, Puentes Globales and UNWTO whom have initiatives specifically focused on sustainability.


  • Junior Advisory Board (JAB) program: “Sustainability in the context of International Relations”

    Selected candidates between 16-17 years old will spend 5 days visiting our university during the Junior Advisory Board Program. During the week, they will be able to express their ideas on how higher education could be a solution to tackle the problem of climate change within the International Relations context. Students will take part in a series of workshops and conferences with top senior research professors from the international relations and climate change fields to develop tools and contribute ideas about the future of higher education. Additionally, selected candidates will be granted an 80% scholarship to study at IE University. The academic coordination is led by the School of Global and Public Affairs.

    Junior Advisory Board


Public Tech Lab

The PublicTech Lab is a place for collaboration, experimentation and design of new solutions to the challenges faced by the public sector.

• A Government as a Platform, which promotes open standards, open data,  interoperability, the use of the cloud and the integration of third parties’ innovation.
• Procurement processes open to new solutions that attract a diverse vendor market-place and regulations that boost innovation and the digital economy.
• A new culture of service design focused on delivery and on citizens’ needs.
• Institutions that bring new digital talent and skills to their workforces.
• Programs and funds that nurture the ecosystem of startups, corporations and universities to co-create solutions to the most pressing public problems

Transatlantic Relations-Initiative

As the 21st century unfolds, cooperation among the democracies and market economies of the West becomes ever more crucial in dealing with the security issues and economic problems of global politics. One of the salient features of contemporary European politics, however, is its tendency to focus insufficiently on America and on the Transatlantic Relationship.

Since sustainable progress on these issues requires intensive cooperation among the Western democracies, with the US-European relationship at the core, a particular effort is called for. We at IE School of Global and Public Affairs have launched the Transatlantic Relations Initiative (TRI) to foster applied and interdisciplinary work on the Atlantic world, its many challenges and the numerous opportunities available for cooperation.

The TRI also includes the Observatory on the European Union, the Observatory on Latin American politics, the Observatory on German Politics and Economics, and the Observatory on US-Hispanic Politics.

Center for the Governance of Change

The Center for the Governance of Change (CGC) is an applied-research, educational institution based at IE University that studies the political, economic, and societal implications of the current technological revolution and advances solutions to overcome its unwanted effects.

The CGC produces pioneering impact-oriented research that cuts across disciplines and methodologies to unveil the complexity of emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Blockchain, and Robotics, and explores their potential threats and contributions to society.

Moreover, the CGC also runs a number of executive programs on emerging tech for public institutions and companies interested in expanding their understanding of disruptive trends, and a series of outreach activities aimed at improving the general public’s awareness and agency over the coming changes.

All this for one purpose: to help build a more prosperous and sustainable society for all.

Research, projects and events:

• The Center for the Governance of Change conducts pioneering, transdisciplinary research in policy and business, aimed at deepening our understanding of change and developing strategies that help us adapt to the future. It does so by acting as an international platform that brings together the world’s top experts in each field.

• The CGC produces reports on issues related to sustainability such as “The Fourth Sector” – a project that supports the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s ongoing efforts to promote a new ecosystem for benefit-driven enterprises that will help create a more prosperous, socially just and environmentally sustainable economy.


  • Competitions

    Our International Relations students participate in international competitions. Two teams of students were selected for the United Nations #Cybersecurity Challenge: Countering Digital Terrorism organized in Vienna by the United Nations.

    Their projects were the following:

    • Just Truth: Countering the Spread of Terrorist Content Online with Psychographics.
    • Tackling Radicalisation: Through Prevention Education, Teaching Digital Skills, and Entrepreneurship Education.

  • Student Clubs
    Student Clubs

    Our students organize themselves into Clubs in order to promote initiatives and events. Three of the main clubs that work on sustainable projects include:

    • Sustainable Development Goals Club: Promotes the SDGs and the agenda 2030.
    • Global Transformation Club: Student debate about the changes happening in our society, their consequences and the appropriate policies and governance.
    • Eco Club: Promotes good environmental practices and encourages discussion about climate issues on campus.

  • Climate summit
    1 Climate summit

    The UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) on 2019, took place in Madrid and neither our students nor our faculty could let this opportunity pass.

    • Events and talks organized for the COP25: The school organized various events which tackled a number of important challenges for sustainable development. Some examples of these events:

    Policy Challenges in a Global Climate Emergency Context: A Debate on Environmental Displacement.
    The Role of Universities in the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda
    Sustainable Businesses.

    • Volunteering at the COP25: From volunteering at the conference, participating in debates, to taking part in IE events organized to mark the occasion, our students were there to demonstrate their support.


  • Our students
    Sofia Kritikopoulos
    Clara Bütow

    Sofia Kritikopoulos

    Sofia is a first-year Bachelor in International Relations student at the campus in Segovia. Alongside other first-year Bachelor in International Relations and Dual Degree in Laws + International  Relations students, Sofia has set up a new campus group to support the UN’s 2030 Agenda of reaching the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

    Clara Bütow

    Clara is a Bachelor in International Relations alumna. Her passion for sustainability led her to establish Impact Revolution, a platform, blog and podcast based on increasing awareness about the need to live a more ethical and environmentally sustainable life. During her academic career, she cofounded a B Impact team at IE, which tracked companies in social and environmental certification processes.

  • Our faculty and staff
    Grace Obado
    Borja Santos

    Grace Obado

    Grace Obado is associate professor of international relations and sustainable development at IE University and Schiller International University. Her research interest is centred on African studies with particular focus on sustainable management of both human and natural resources, regional geopolitics and conflict resolution. Some of her articles are:

    • Structural transformation and digitalization of african economies

    Borja Santos

    Borja Santos is the Executive Director of the undergraduate programs at IE School of Public and Global Affairs and professor of practice of Sustainable Development and public policy. He has over 10 years of professional experience focused on the design, implementation and evaluation of public policies and international programmes in countries in Africa, Europe, America and Asia. I have designed strategies for better sustainable economic growth with the Government of Sri Lanka and the Harvard Center for International Development; carried out impact evaluations in Perú and Belize with international development banks; led the institutional humanitarian response and disaster risk management programmes of United Nations and the Government of Ethiopia and Ecuador; managed international aid projects at the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in different countries; and worked fostering innovation ecosystems in cities like San Sebastian. Some of his articles are:

    • Esta Agenda 2030 sí es para nosotros
    • No dejas de ser pobre si ganas más de 1,9$
    • Cuatro prioridades para evitar más desastres
    • Sri Lanka, el dilema del turismo sostenible


The school has established partnerships and connected our programs to leading international organizations. This facilitates the connection between theory and practice and the incorporation of our students and faculty in current debates on economic growth, social opportunities, environmental quality or better democracy. Some of these institutions include the United Nations, OECD, the International Chamber of Commerce, the Organization of American States and the International Trade Center.