A Sustainability Accreditation – the experiences of Coventry University

Coventry University - SIP reportOne of the challenges that comes up often in discussions around embedding responsible leadership and sustainability into management education is how to measure progress and impact. Several schools are exploring different projects that would enable them to do this more effectively. Coventry University, in the UK, is one of these. They have recently become a pilot school invited to test out a new accreditation mark (which they recently received) launched by the National Union of Students in the UK, called Responsible Futures. The mark goes beyond looking at sustainability on campus to exploring sustainability across the whole institution, and in particular in curriculum.

I spoke with Dr. Paul Cashian, Faculty Director of Learning and Teaching at the Faculty of Business, Environment and Society, about their experience.

Introduce the programme and how Coventry got involved in the project?

The Responsible Future project is an accreditation mark launched by the National Union of Students (NUS) in the UK aimed at embedding sustainability issues into the curriculum. The scheme is partly a response to annual NUS/HEA surveys which consistently show more than 60% of UK students want issues around sustainability to be included in their courses. Coventry University was one of eight universities, along with five further education colleges, invited to trial the new accreditation mark by the NUS, partly based on previous green initiatives from our own Students Union (CUSU), and partly through the work of embedding PRME in the curriculum, done within my faculty. Details on the Responsible Futures project can be found on the NUS website, and a dedicated Responsible Futures page is under development.

Why have an accreditation process for sustainability? How does it work?

The NUS sees the Responsible Futures project as an on-going process. Achieving the accreditation mark is not an end in itself but an indication that an institution, in partnership with their students, has put in place an enabling framework to take the whole sustainability agenda forward. The other advantage of this particular accreditation mark is that the focus on curriuculum moves the sustainability agenda at the institutional level away from the traditional focus on this being an issue for the Estates Department. We also see this as an opportunity to support and develop the work we’ve been doing in the faculty in relation to PRME—a nationally recognised institutional-level accreditation mark gives more credibility to the faculty’s PRME committment. The focus we have taken in our approach to PRME is to develop graduates who are aware of sustainability issues and the need to adopt responsible and ethical work practices in their future careers. This is similar to the ethos behind Responsible Futures—it is not just about students developing knowledge about sustainability, but also about them taking a challenging and responsible mindset into the work place.

The accreditation process is evidence-based and revolves around putting together a workbook that meets a series of criteria. Some criteria are mandatory and some optional, plus you can define your own additional criteria if you wish. The mandatory criteria cover areas such as having a Responible Futures coordinating partnership group with a clear action plan, the partnership group including a high-level champion, providing evidence of sustainability-relevant formal and informal curriculum activities and, perhaps most crucially, showing that the institution’s learning and teaching strategy support the objectives of the Responsible Futures initiative. To achieve the accreditation mark, the workbook evidence is audited by teams of NUS-trained student auditors from another institution, with a score being awarded against the evidence presented for each criterion. The audit team also interview staff and students as part of the audit process. The accreditation mark is awarded if a minimum score is gained, and lasts for 3 years. As a pilot at the moment, some of these details may change before the general roll out.

Do you think there should be an accreditation mark for sustainability?

There are many accreditations related to aspects of sustainability, however we saw the Responsible Futures accreditation presented two advantages: Firstly, the focus of many of the criteria on the curriculum, both formal and informal, changes the emphasis to focus on our students and their engagement with the sustainability agenda. Secondly, when taken as a whole the criteria provided us with a mechanism to bring together other awards, initiatives and projects into a more cohesive and compelling framework. However, to use the accreditation process in this way you do need a degree of cooperation across the institution, which usually equates with a champion at the highest level who can make things happen.

What have you learnt so far through this process?

I think that all the members of the coordinating group have been surprised by just how much evidence we have been able to collect to support our claims against the criteria—and we know that there are a lot more activities and initiatives that we haven’t yet uncovered. The other learning point for me was how effective a small but focused team drawn from across traditional university silos (academic, estates, students union) can be in kick-starting a project such as this—we all brought different experiences, perspectives and institutional contact networks into the process.

What have been some of your challenges? Successes? 

The biggest challenge has been engaging senior management from other faculties in the process, despite having a high level management as a champion. This may be because, as a pilot institution, we were on a very tight timescale having less than 6 months to root out and present the evidence, as well as demonstrate that the Responsible Futures initiative was having an impact on the institution.

Our invitation to act as a pilot institution was really well-timed as over the last 12 months the university has been preparing a revised corporate plan and an associated education strategy. Involvement in the Responsible Futures project raised the profile of sustainability and green issues within the university leadership team, and has allowed us to have a positive impact on both these key strategic documents.

What advice would you have for other schools thinking of putting something similar into place?

The key piece of advice I would give is to try and be as inclusive as possible in terms of who you include in the process. Take the opportunity to break down the traditional internal barriers and pull together all the disparate green and sustainability initiatives taking place across the university—chances are that you will be as surprised, as I was, about how much is actually happening and the opportunities that exist to enrich the curriculum with live cases and projects.

What’s next?

Achieving the accreditation mark is only the start of the process. As with PRME, the underlying philosophy is one of the need for continual enhancement and development.

Any UK institution that might be interested in working towards the Responsible Futures accreditation mark should contact Quinn Runkle at the NUS (quinn.runkle(at)nus.org.uk).

Recognition of Sharing Information on Progress Reports 2015 – 2015 PRME Global Forum

SIP RecognitionOver the past few months, the PRME Secretariat, with feedback from the PRME Working Group on Sharing Information on Progress (SIP), has selected a number of institutions to receive recognition for their outstanding efforts in reporting through their Sharing Information on Progress reports. The recipients received their awards Wednesday evening, 24 June, in a special ceremony at the 2015 PRME Global Forum.

There were two categories recognised—one including only first-time SIPs and a second category including schools that have reported more than once. All reports submitted from July 2013 to March 2015 by the deadline, and which met minimum criteria, were considered. In both categories, the Secretariat selected three reports, each showing very different approaches to reporting.

In the first category, first time reporter, the following three reports were recognised:

La Rochelle Business School (France) created an SIP that is a thoughtful and substantive. In particular, this report incorporates a thorough assessment of La Rochelle’s impact—particularly for a first-time report— with both qualitative and quantitative indicators. Building off of these assessments, the report highlights future objectives, accompanied with a strategy to scale their impact. The report incorporates a clear integrated sustainability strategy with supporting visual graphics. To view the report click here.

Reykjavik University Business School’s (Iceland) report is a strong example of an engaging and reader-friendly report. With accompanying graphics and photos, this report effectively communicates its many PRME-related activities in a concise, visually appealing manner, which demonstrates how a SIP report can be a powerful communication tool for stakeholders. Particularly notable is its engagement of different stakeholders in the report: the report highlights examples and quotes from students, professors, and others. To view the report click here.

Haas School of Business’ (USA) report is an organised, thorough report. Notable about this report is how it effectively organises and highlights its activities. In particular, under each Principle section, the report lists its Key Accomplishments and Future Objectives. In addition, the report allows the reader to grasp the scope and depth of Haas’s activities with its selected in-depth and diverse examples, notably those in the Research Section. To view the report click here.

The second category of reporters was a much more challenging category to go through. There are many interesting reports in this category, and recognitions were narrowed down to the three chosen below:

The Hanken School of Economics (Finland) SIP report demonstrates a clear, integrated sustainability strategy, which ties smoothly to the activities described throughout the report. The reflection incorporated throughout the report is impressive, with organised, appealing tables concisely outlining previous goals, the progress made on those goals, and future goals at the end of each section. To view the report click here.

KEDGE Business School’s (France) SIP is a strong example of an effective integrated report, with clear ties to PRME’s mission and Six Principles. The report includes an impact assessment of its sustainability activities, highlighting a range of both qualitative and quantitative indicators in reader-friendly tables and visuals. To add, the report is inviting and readable with an innovative structure, organised around the institution’s three core values: Create, Share, Care. To view the report click here.

Copenhagen Business School’s (Denmark) report has a strong impact assessment and reflection of its PRME-related activities, with accompanying examples and indicators effectively highlighted throughout the report. Particularly noteworthy about this report is how it engages with a wide range of stakeholders. Quotes and contact information from the individuals involved in various activities are listed throughout the report, demonstrating how the SIP is used both for internal and external purposes. To view the report click here.

The PRME Secretariat has also identified two reports from each region that are examples of good reporting. These schools, and their reports are noted and linked to below, in no particular order.

Africa & Middle East

University of Stellenbosch Business School (South Africa)

The American University in Cairo, School of Business (Egypt)

Asia

IILM, Institute for Higher Education (India)

Tsinghua SEM (China)

Australia & New Zealand

La Trobe Business School (Australia)

Macquarie Graduate School of Management, Australia

Europe

Glasgow Caledonian University (United Kingdom)

Toulouse Business School (France)

North America

Babson College (United States)

Bentley University (United States)

South America

Fundacao Dom Cabral (Brazil)

Universidad del Pacifico (Peru)

Students Views on Business as a Force for Good – 2015 PRME Global Forum

The Sustainable Development Challenge was conceived by Babson College (USA) and the PRME Secretariat, on the occasion of the 2015 PRME Global Forum and in advance of the launch of the UN Sustainable Development Goals later this year. Students currently enrolled in PRME Champions institutions were invited to create 60-90 second videos that demonstrate ideas for business, social enterprise, and social innovation to create conditions that support the UN Sustainable Development Goals; in other words, business as a force for good. Thirteen videos were submitted from around the world and three winners were chosen.

First place was awarded to “Reason to Be Free,” by Waldir Teixeira Filho and Rodrigo Titon of ISAE/FGV, Curitiba, Brazil. This video was chosen for its creativity, its powerful aesthetics, and its important subject matter—the lives and opportunities for incarcerated people worldwide.

 

Second place went to “Fighting Inequality,” by Michael Brady and Roxane Wagner of Babson College, Wellesley, MA, USA explores the topic of a consumption tax.

And coming in third place, the winner was “Eliminating the Gender Bias,” by Nicholas Ryfa, Momina Sumbal, Megan Shea and Amatulsalam Al-Abassi of the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada looks at gender inequalities in the workplace.

Looking for more inspirational video cases? At the 2014 LEAD Symposium, students from PRME signatory schools were invited to contribute their thoughts as to what the Future Corporation might look like. Twenty-seven short videos were submitted from around the world. The videos can be viewed here.

And of course, do not forget the short video created by the PRME Anti-Corruption Working Group around Anti-Corruption in Business School Curriculum using speed draw/whiteboard animation.

The 2015 PRME Global Forum is taking place 23 and 24 June in New York City. For more information and news about the Forum stay updated on twitter #PRME2015GF.

Women on Boards – The American University in Cairo

The UN Global Compact’s Women Empowerment Principles are a set of principles for business offering guidance on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. The initiative emphasises the business case for corporate action to promote gender equality. But it isn’t just businesses supporting and implementing the principles—academic institutions and in particular business schools can play a crucial role in providing support. This is what The American University in Cairo (AUC), in Egypt, has done. The university has developed a unique series of initiatives aimed at improving gender balance of corporate boards in Egypt and the Middle East and North Africa region, by qualifying women to be appointed to corporate boards, sensitising male board members to gender issues, and advocating for policy and legislative changes that institutionalise gender diversity on corporate boards. I spoke with the Director of Institutional Development at The American University in Cairo, Ghada Howaidy, about this innovative programme.

Please provide an overview of current state of gender balance of corporate boards in Egypt and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. What are some of the challenges? Why is this important?

The boardroom is where strategic decisions are made, governance applied and risk overseen. It is therefore imperative that boards are made up of competent high caliber individuals who together offer a mix of skills, experiences and backgrounds. The business case for increasing the number of women on corporate boards is clear. Women are successful at university and in their early careers, but attrition rates increase as they progress through an organisation. Women represent 60% of university graduates globally and 80% of consumer goods purchasing decision makers. Businesses recognise their value as employees and consumers. When women are so under-represented on corporate boards, companies are missing out, as they are unable to draw from the widest possible range of talent. Evidence suggests that companies with a strong female representation at board and top management levels perform better than those without, and that gender-diverse boards have a positive impact on performance. It is clear that boards make better decisions where a range of voices, drawing on different life experiences, can be heard. That mix of voices must include women. However, most large companies are led by men, so the real conversation regarding the willingness to pursue gender balance is a conversation among men in executive positions. As mentioned in a Harvard Business Review blog in November 2013, that conversation is between the progressive leaders pushing for major culture shifts and the male leaders who don’t yet see this as particularly relevant to their bottom lines.

Egypt is the most populous country in the MENA region with a population of approximately 92 million and with a labor force of almost 27 million, of whom approximately 6 million are women. Because of the lack of a robust legal and social structure that promotes gender equality in business in general, and on corporate boards in particular, women’s participation on corporate boards is very limited, particularly compared to other countries. The aggregate percentage of women on corporate boards in Egypt is below 7%, while in a country like Norway it reaches above 40%. However, the Egyptian constitution that came into effect in 2014, stipulates that 25% of local council seats are to be held by women. In addition, article 11 of the constitution says that the State shall ensure the achievement of equality between women and men in all civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution. The corporate sector needs to catch up.

What is the Women on Corporate Board’s Programme and how did it come about?

The aim of the initiative is to improve the gender balance of corporate boards in Egypt and the MENA region by sensitising male board members to gender issues, qualifying women from different corporate sectors and outside the corporate mainstream to be appointed to corporate boards, and advocating for policy and legislative changes that institutionalise gender diversity on corporate boards.

The programme focus is on the one hand to sensitise male board members to gender issues, and qualify and support women for corporate board positions, and on the other hand, to advocate for policy and legislative changes to institutionalise gender diversity on corporate boards. This will be accomplished through multiple interventions over a period of time that range from awareness raising, networking, coaching and facilitation, to direct training for certification and lobbying.

What are the key features of the programme and how does it work? 

The initiative has multiple aspects. It looks at qualifying a pool of professional women to sit on boards and orienting select certified executive coaches/facilitators working with boards in Egypt. On the other hand the initiative also aims at developing a plan for engaging boards that includes leadership and coaching, as well as support policies aiming at increasing women participation on corporate boards.

The Women on Boards training and certification programme was piloted in Cairo, November 2014 and targeted female executives from the corporate sector, as well as female entrepreneurs, academics, civil servants and senior-level women with professional service backgrounds.

The programme is divided into two sections, a Corporate Governance Module (with both an international and a local outlook) providing a general understanding of corporate governance concepts, board structure and responsibilities as well as basic understanding of financial statements, internal planning, family business governance, etc.; and a Leadership Module, which aims at developing leadership identity, practicing leadership skills and managing vision and voice.

What have been some of the successes? 

One of the successes achieved by the programme is the development of a diverse consortium of international organisations, academic, non-governmental and governmental institutions to work on the different aspects of the programme. These include three implementing partners: the American University in Cairo School of Business, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the Egyptian Corporate Responsibility Center – UNDP Project (ECRC), as well as a number of consortium partners including: OECD MENA Women’s Business Forum, the American Chamber of Commerce, and the Women and Memory Forum (WMF).

An informal peer group of the women who participated in the group was formed and is actively engaged through social media and online webinar meetings. This group provides a forum for discussion as well as a support network, which will work with the expansion of theme. The programme also attracted the interest of a number of PRME MENA member universities who are interested in partnering to develop a regional version of the programme.

On an institutional level the AUC School of Business has increased the number of women participating in its Dean’s Strategic Advisory Board.

What advice would you have for other schools thinking of putting something similar into place? 

The development of a strong consortium with multi-dimensional players is essential for developing a rich and strong programme. It is important to provide international best practices as well as local context of corporate governance in your training and conversations. Also look at enhancing both analytical proficiency and leadership skills of participants.

What is next for the programme?

After the success of the pilot training and certification programme a regional track is being explored in partnership with top regional business schools who are signatories of PRME.

With regards to the local initiative, the School of Business is also working closely with other consortium members on incentivising boards to increase women participation in their boards.

For more information or to learn more about how to implement the Women on Boards Programme in your institution, contact Ghada Howaidy at ghowaidy(at)aucegypt.edu

Providing a Snapshot of Support for PRME and Sustainability – University of New South Wales

UNSWThe University of New South Wales (UNSW) Business School, in Australia, is one of the largest business schools in the southern hemisphere with over 13,000 business school students and 54,000 university students. Following their decision to join the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) in 2010, the school began a multi year project called “Capturing the Champions,” aimed at providing a snapshot of where they currently stood, in terms of both curriculum and faculty engagement, in implementing sustainability and responsible management, and outlining how they may further strengthen and embed their commitment to PRME over the upcoming years. I recently spoke with Shanil Samarakoon from the University of New South Wales about the “Capturing the Champions” project and the lessons they learnt.

Introduce the “Capturing the Champions” project and how it came to be.

A three-stage project was conceived by Dr.Tracy Wilcox and Dr.Mehreen Faruqi with support from the senior management team at UNSW Business School shortly after we signed on to PRME in 2010. The purpose of the “Capturing the Champions” project was to present a snapshot of how UNSW Business School was engaging with PRME. This snapshot drew on an exploratory study of current teaching and learning activities within the Business School. The study centred on findings from a staff survey, the results of a desk audit of core courses and the identification of PRME Champion courses—courses across both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that demonstrated the breadth and depth of pedagogy related to PRME within the UNSW Business School.

What criteria did you use in your audits?

A key step in simplifying the process of scanning the landscape was the development of 8 criteria that together encompassed what responsible management education might look like for us. These included:

  1. Economic sustainability – promotion of the concept of sustainable, long-term value as distinct from short-term value
  2. Social and ethical sustainability – includes business ethics, professional ethics, business impacts on communities and societies, stakeholder models, corporate social responsibility, governance, indigenous enterprise, sustainable development, workplace safety, human rights, and supply chain ethics
  3. Environmental sustainability – covers business impacts on the natural environment
  4. Alternative models of business, finance and reporting – encompasses a range of alternative approaches including social enterprise, cooperatives, mutual organisation and the social economy
  5. International principles and frameworks – captures students’ exposure to global and regional principles and frameworks related to responsible management and business practices
  6. Responsible leadership – ethical and authentic forms of leadership that acknowledge business leaders duties and responsibilities
  7. Integration of the pillars of sustainability – environmental, social, economic, cultural and their interrelationships and interdependencies
  8. Multistakeholder engagement – encompasses processes and frameworks for engaging with the spectrum of business stakeholders

What have been some of the interesting findings from the project and why?

What we found was that across the business school, there was broad support for PRME and many core courses were already embedding PRME principles. Twenty-four per cent of respondents identified themselves as being involved in PRME-related research. Of these, 64 per cent engaged with business, 69 per cent with NGOs and 33 per cent with government institutions.

The results of our pilot audit were presented to senior management as well as at the Australasian Business Ethics Network Conference where feedback was sought and our approach was revised based on some of the suggestions we received.

We also found a suite of electives that specifically addressed elements of PRME—what we called “champion courses.” Some of these champion courses are listed below.

  • Creating Social Change: From Innovation to Impact (COMM 2000)
  • Reporting for Climate Change and Sustainability (ACCT 5961)
  • Teams, Ethics and Competitive Advantage (MGMT 5050)
  • Managing for Organisational Sustainability (GBAT 9119)
  • Non-Profit and Social Marketing (MARK 5819)

What are the different ways you are already or are planning to engage faculty, and how are they going so far?

The report was launched to faculty in November 2014 along with the UNSW Business School Community of Practice initiative, which will allow us to design and introduce innovative new courses and programmes and offer a range of integrated learning experiences pertaining to, for example, ethics, sustainability, and social and environmental responsibility. We have an objective to include a new core elective in the Bachelor of Commerce and the online MBA that allow specialisation in social impact. We also now offer a Social Entrepreneurship Practicum and have created placement opportunities for students to work with indigenous communities.

Through the Community of Practice we have already begun to meet as a group and share ideas and classroom approaches. This includes a regular brown-bag seminar series, which all business school faculty are invited to attend. We also hope to reach out more broadly across the university.

Another way in which we are acknowledging and engaging our faculty is through our new PRME Teaching Award. This award recognises and celebrates the teaching contributions of “champion” faculty. Dr. Maria Balatbat was our first recipient of the award for her pioneering work in teaching sustainability reporting within the School of Accounting, her extensive engagement with industry, and her role as the Joint Director of the Centre for Energy and Environmental Markets.

What have been some of the challenges? Successes?

A key challenge for our small research team of three, has been juggling time and resources within already busy schedules. We were fortunate to have financial support from our Deputy Dean (Education) to help conduct the research project.

In terms of successes, having a clear sense of the current landscape in terms of engagement with PRME and the identification of champions across all schools has been important for us. Faculty engagement with PRME exceeded our expectations and we now have a vibrant community of practice!

What advice would you have for other schools thinking of putting something similar into place?

We would really recommend that other schools embark on a process like this as it has provided a valuable means for identifying and celebrating the work that is being done in responsible management education that may be going unrecognised. It also functions as a useful “gap analysis” for future strategies.

It is important to gain support of senior management within the business school, both for resourcing and importantly, legitimating the research process. For example, our staff survey response rate was over 40%. We would not have been able to achieve this backing without the support of senior management.

What is next for the Capture the Champions Project?

The next stage for us involves growing our community of practice and helping further embed PRME into our courses.

The faculty survey is now being rolled out across Australia and New Zealand as part of a wider multi-institution project, enabling a regional snapshot of engagement with PRME.

For more on the “Capturing the Champions” project, or any of the elements, please feel free to contact Dr. Tracy Wilcox (t.wilcox(at)unsw.edu.au).

2015 is the International Year of Light – Sustainable Energy (Part 2)

International Year of LightEvery year the UN chooses one or two themes that are celebrated throughout the year by governments, local organisations, businesses and educational institutions. This year was proclaimed the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies, and focuses on the topic of light science and its applications with the aim of recognising the importance of light-based technologies, promoting sustainable development and providing solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health. Additionally, access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all is Goal 7 of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals. In celebration of the International Year of Light, the following week will focus on sustainable energy and feature a range of initiatives and programmes implemented on the topic at universities internationally. To view part 1 of this two part series click here.

Several schools are developing new programmes focused on energy related topics, in particular around sustainable and renewable energies. In the Netherlands, Rotterdam School of Management’s Future Energy Business holds a three day programme which aims to prepare students to not only navigate energy business and its advances such as renewable generation, storage, electric mobility and ongoing ICT innovations, but to shape the energy landscape of the future. Participants gain insights into future energy infrastructures, the dynamics of energy markets and stakeholders, and learn the skills needed to develop compelling, actionable strategies and discuss them with leaders in industry and policy.

Toulouse Business School, in France, has developed a specialised Master’s in Sustainable Development and Climate Change in 2008. The programme is accredited jointly by the National Meteorological School and the National School of Life Sciences. The school also offers training on carbon accounting for students more generally across the school.

Glasgow Caledonian University’s (GCU) Centre for Climate Justice is a key member of a 20 month project called, ‘Scotland Lights Up Malawi,’ which aims to encourage communities in Malawi to replace dangerous and costly kerosene lamps, batteries and candles with environmentally more friendly solar lighting that also helps families reduce expenditures and thus has potential to reduce poverty. The project is partly funded by the Scottish Government and involves GCU in partnership with SolarAid establishing the social enterprise in Malawi called SunnyMoney. The enterprise will promote and sell solar lighting.

There are many ways that students are engaging in the topic of sustainable and renewable energy. Master’s students at Sabanci University, in Turkey, organised a case competition in 2014 to bring creative ideas and multi-cultural insights into organising the first Solar Grand Prix Monaco. Organised by Solar 1, with the support of SAS Prince Albert II in partnership with the Monaco Yacht Club, this event aimed to promote the use of solar power in boats, using innovative ideas from young engineers and entrepreneurs worldwide. The students had to draft a mini business plan, summarising their ideas, views and recommendations on how to successfully build up and organise this first and unique event.

On campus students are also coming together into student clubs on energy sustainability, for example at Athens University of Economics and Business, in Greece. The university’s Energy & Sustainability Club involves both students and alumni to raise awareness, and mobilise students and the broader community through workshops, seminars, conferences and short-term field projects. Students from both Copenhagen Business School and the University of Copenhagen, in Denmark, established the Danish Association for Energy Economics chapter, an affiliate of the International Association for Energy Economics. The chapter aims to gather students, companies and researchers to discuss future energy solutions in order to fill a gap in the energy debate in Denmark. The chapter hosts events related to energy policy, research and business.

Finally, universities are exploring how to be more energy efficient within their own campuses. Ivey Business School, in Canada, is doing a lighting retrofit—a five-year plan to eliminate inefficient lighting on campus. Energy-saving T8 ballasts are replacing nearly 50,000 T12 fixtures that illuminate the rooms and halls in dozens of campus buildings. The project will pay for itself through energy savings in about three years. The new fixtures are estimated to use at least 30 per cent less energy than the previous fixtures. In addition to being more efficient, the new lamps also have a greater quality of light output.

The University of Winchester, in the UK, is a member of the Carbon Trust’s Higher Education Carbon Management programme, and a number of initiatives are in place across the campus to cut their carbon footprint. The Business School is part of the University’s commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions per square meter to 30% below the 2006 levels by 2016.

Several universities across Europe take place in the annual European Sustainable Energy Week Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, in Italy, uses the opportunity to raise awareness about energy efficiency on its campus. They take part in a campaign called “M’illumino di meno,” which means ‘I am using less light.’ On this day in February, throughout Italy individuals, businesses, monuments turn off their lights as a way of raising awareness about sustainable consumption. Many schools also take part in Earth Hour celebrations (which next year will be on the 19th of March) where millions around the world turn off their lights for one hour as a way to raise awareness about climate change.

2015 is the International Year of Light – Sustainable Energy (Part 1)

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Every year the UN chooses one or two themes that are celebrated throughout the year by governments, local organisations, businesses and educational institutions. This year was proclaimed the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies, and focuses on the topic of light science and its applications with the aim of recognising the importance of light-based technologies, promoting sustainable development and providing solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health. Additionally, access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all is Goal 7 of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals. In celebration of the International Year of Light, the following week will focus on sustainable energy and feature a range of initiatives and programmes implemented on the topic at universities internationally.

Many academic institutions provide support for entrepreneurs in the field of sustainable energy. The Sustainable Renewable Energy Business Incubator Initiative at Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business, in Trinidad and Tobago, aims to grow and nurture companies operating within the emerging sustainable energy sector, through the provision of business support, facilitation of access to markets, and access to finance as well as technology transfer and joint ventures. Some of the projects to be included in this initiative include a project involving photo voltaic panels for solar generated electricity, recycling and proper tyre disposal used for generation of supplemental fuel substitute and a project involving power generation using tidal power.

There is an increase in courses and electives with a focus on energy. For example, fourth semester BSc students in Business Administration and Information Technology at Copenhagen Business School, in Denmark, use a case called Smart City. In this case, which covers three courses, students work to facilitate sustainable and energy efficient lifestyles through the use of information technology, including big data and the Internet of Things. The Smart City case enables students to apply new ideas using technology to better curb high energy consumption. This includes exploration of how cities, governments and corporations can take ideas from research to the market.

The University of Applied Sciences HTW Chur, in Switzerland, is part of a research consortium of four different universities investigating the future of Swiss hydropower. The research will be based on local case studies with industry partners and local stakeholders. Students at the school have also been engaged in sustainable energy projects. A group of students recently produced a short video clip called “2048” that envisions the future of energy production as a private activity. The video won the 2014 Sustainability Award of the Swiss Foundation Consumer forum. The University also has a Masters in advanced studies in energy economics. The school has also recently installed energy efficient lighting schemes and is installing a new control system for energy consumption that provides real time data.

At Boston University, in the USA, Clean Energy and Environmental Sustainability Initiative (CEESI) was established to engage university resources to help prepare for a world where increasing demand for energy resources must be balanced with environmental, economic, and social sustainability. Boston University’s approach is interdisciplinary, with CEESI involving faculty and staff from the Colleges of Arts & Sciences, Engineering, and School of Management to coordinate a university-wide vision for research and academic programmes relating to this challenge. CEESI is responsible for new education and research programmes in energy-related areas, the Presidential Lecture Series and other events, coordination with campus-wide activities, general operating policy, communications, and related matters affecting Boston University’s sustainable energy objectives.

At the University of St. Gallen, in Switzerland, the Good Energies Chair for Management of Renewable Energies is an industry-sponsored chair focused on developing a competence centre for research and teaching in the fields of renewable energies and energy efficiency. The position focuses on innovative business models and committed entrepreneurship. The chair investigates how the shift towards renewable energies can be accelerated through the interaction between private investments, consumer behaviour and effective energy policies.

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