Implementing Sustainability Principles – Sharing Information on Progress

Every month, several new Sharing Information on Progress (SIP) reports come across my desk. These SIP reports are full of interesting and innovative projects aimed at embedding the Six Principles of PRME across campuses. In this series of blogs, I will feature a small selection of projects taken from recently submitted reports. This month we take a look at examples, as they apply to the Six Principles of PRME, from the Indonesia, Japan, USA, Columbia, Peru and Germany.

  1. Purpose: Faculty of Economics and Business Soegijapranata Catholic University, Indonesia

Soegijaprantata Catholic University’s Strategic Plan 2011-2019 focuses on the school becoming ‘Green’ in their organisational management, curricula design, and in the implementation of teaching, research and community service. They aim to actively participate in national and international organisations engaged in environmental and social issues, while educating students, business, government, society and other stakeholders. Their flagship event, an international conference focused on Greenpreneurship, takes place on campus every three years, and will next take place in September 2015.

  1. Values: Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan

Kwansei Gakuin University signed an agreement in 2006 with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Japan, whereby it admits 3 refugees chosen by the UNHCR to the university each year. Students admitted are exempt from all tuition fees. There are many cases of refugees who cannot enter Japanese universities because of the high cost of tuition and living, and the difficulty of getting a certificate of graduation from their previous schools in their home country. At KGU, their goal is to give these refugees a higher education and the specialised skills necessary to become leaders in contributing to peace and economic progress, working either in Japan, or in their home countries. The university also wants them to study together with Japanese students so that all involved can work together to solve such worldwide problems as persecution and conflict.

  1. Method: Cameron School of Business, University of St. Thomas, USA

Students in Cameron School of Business’s marketing and management classes take part in a Microcredit lending programme. Through this programme students participate in more than 50 loans to assist small businesses in more than 50 countries. The programme supports no-interest loans and so far the programme has achieved a 100% repayment record. Each semester students apply ideas covered in class to select loan recipients using demographic, psychographic and other data from Kiva, an international non-governmental organisation.

  1. Research: UASM, Universidad de los Andes, Columbia

UASM has been looking at assessing outcomes and/or impacts of internalising the Principles of PRME, to explore the extent to which academic programmes and research in this area influence students, to explore what differences alumni are making in the organisations they work for, and the impact on society as a whole. Each director of academic programmes was asked to evaluate what their alumni did post graduation, the effects of different teaching methods, and to assess how research has promoted responsible leadership and sustainable development in organisations. They will be reporting their findings through their SIP reports.

  1. Partnerships: IESA, Venezuela

IESA has been involved with bottom of the pyramid research in Venezuela, and is developing mechanisms to make this practical knowledge available, to encourage companies to develop products and services targeting these markets. They are exploring the purchasing decisions of this group of consumers by visiting their communities, markets, and surroundings to better understand their needs, aspirations, motivations and values. In partnership with the Metropolitan Mayor’s office in Caracas, IESA has also conducted two free workshops on Finance for Micro entrepreneurs for a group of more than 90 people from various sectors of the metropolitan area of Petare, a highly populated slum neighborhood.

  1. Dialogue: Escuela Universitatria de Negocios, University of Lima, Peru

Proyecto Biohuerto, led by the University’s Center of Environmental Studies, aims to raise awareness of environmental responsibility and in particular sustainable agriculture, in order to increase the quality of life of the inhabitants of the community of Emmanuel in the province of Huarochiri in Peru. Aimed at both adults and children, a number of workshops and events are planned around the topic—as it relates to the inhabitants of the community—by faculty as well as community leaders. A guide and audiovisual material is also being developed for use by professors at other institutions interested in putting in place similar projects.

+ Organisational Practices: Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, Germany

Having outgrown its current location, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management announced the development of a new campus in central Frankfurt. Along with the purchase of the new campus site it launched an international architectural and planner competition to submit designs focused on creating a “green campus.” The vision includes sustainable design features such as energy reduction, optimisation and production, and minimising the overall environmental impact of the campus, the need for artificial lighting, and costly heating and ventilation solutions, to name but a few. The campus is scheduled for completion in 2017.

More from PRiMEtime…

1 year ago: Social Entrepreneurship Project – EADA Business School, Spain

2 years ago: Using a Case Competition to Make Campus more Sustainable – Olin Business School, USA

Examining the Impact of Diversity in Business – McCoy College of Business Administration

Distinguished Lecture featuring Brian EastA growing number of schools are choosing yearly themes that expose students to issues important to the community and their careers. At the Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas in the US, their Common Experience programme chooses a theme that is explored thoroughly throughout the University, including in the McCoy College of Business Administration. Ms. Brittany Chrisman, Academic Advisor in McCoy College of Business and Coordinator of Business Leadership Week, explained a bit more about this year’s theme and how the business school has embraced it.

What is the Texas State Common Experience and how did it come about?

The Common Experience at Texas State University is an annual, yearlong initiative designed to cultivate a common intellectual conversation across the campus, to enhance student participation in the intellectual life of the campus, and to foster a sense of community across our entire campus and beyond.

The Common Experience programme brings students together to read and engage with a particular theme (changing yearly), and to explore this theme in University Seminar classes, write responses and reactions to the texts in writing courses, participate in related symposia with scholarly panels, hear renowned and respected speakers address the topic, see films related to the Common Experience theme, explore the experience through the fine arts, engage in informal discussions in residence halls and coffee shops, and extend the exploration via avenues of their own choosing.

For entering students, the Common Experience starts even before they begin classes at Texas State. The Common Reading book is distributed during New Student Orientation, and students are encouraged to start reading it and to become involved by way of the websites for Common Experience and the Common Reading Program. The Common Experience also casts a broader net, involving faculty, the San Marcos community that houses the university, and others interested in participating in a broad intellectual consideration of a different world-scope topic each year. The topics themselves emerge from the competitive ideas of our own faculty, staff, and students, which provides a dimension of ownership and increased involvement.

How has the university as a whole mobilised around this theme?

The 2014-2015 Common Experience theme is “Exploring Democracy’s Promise: From Segregation to Integration.” It is inspired by the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of Texas State University, known in 1963 as Southwest Texas State College (SWT). In January of 1963 Judge Ben H. Rice ruled that SWT could not deny admission to an African-American student based solely on race. After the ruling, in the fall of 1963, 18-year-old Dana Jean Smith, a graduate of Anderson High School in Austin, Texas, enrolled at SWT. The registrar personally assisted Smith in registering along with four other African American students: Georgia Hoodye, Gloria Odoms, Mabeleen Washington, and Helen Jackson. This year’s Common Experience event honored the five women as trailblazers and recognised their contributions to Texas State history. The event featured a conversation, tributes, entertainment, and a reception. Additional events include film screenings, art galleries exhibitions, guest lectures, a performance of Raisin’ Cane – A Harlem Renaissance Odyssey, the Leadership Institute Annual Conference, and Business Leadership Week, to name a few.

What is the theme this year and why that theme? Why is it important for business?

McCoy College of Business Administration related the Common Experience theme to business by selecting “Examining the Impact of Diversity in Business” as the Business Leadership Week (BLW) 2015 theme. Diversity is imperative to the success and growth of modern businesses. Students will have the opportunity to learn firsthand from business professionals how diversity impacts businesses in profound ways. The BLW is slated to feature guest speakers, a leadership panel, an interactive fair, keynote speaker, Bloomberg Businessweek Mini-Case Competition, and Etiquette dinner. The main events will feature speakers and topics directly related to the theme in an effort to continue the conversation started by the university through Common Experience.

What have been some of the successes of BLW? Challenges?

McCoy College of Business Administration students, faculty, and staff, along with the university and local community have enjoyed and embraced the event for the past six years. Each year the programme has grown, with attendance increasing from 393 in 2009 to 3,700 in 2014. The growth of the programme into an annual, anticipated event has been our greatest success. As with most programmes, our greatest challenge is securing adequate funding. We address this challenge by seeking and taking full advantage of grant and sponsorship opportunities.

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

I would advise other schools considering a similar programme to include students in the planning and implementation process. For the past several years of Business Leadership Week, we have made a concentrated effort to involve students in the entire process. We invite student organisations to sponsor events by hosting networking receptions, introducing guest speakers, and assisting with the interactive fair by partnering with vendors as they arrive on campus. Students gain more from the week by being able to get to know the business professionals one on-one through these opportunities. The students are also more invested in the programme when they help to plan and run the events.

What’s next for the programme?

The Business Leadership Week planning committee is busy preparing for BLW 2015. Our planning tasks include reaching out to potential guest speakers, seeking sponsorships, submitting grant proposals for funding, seeking businesses to participate in the interactive fair, and designing the leadership panel and Bloomberg Businessweek Mini-Case Competition in coordination with our theme. The planning process for Business Leadership Week is ongoing year-round in order to make the programme as effective as possible.


Sustainability related MOOCs starting September and beyond (part 2)

MOOC Sustainability SeptemberSeptember has arrived, which means the start to a new school year for many students around the world. It also means the start of a range of new MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) available for free online, presented by Universities across the world. These courses are open to anyone with an interest in the topic, last between three and fourteen weeks, and take from three to eight hours of time a week to complete. Many also provide a certificate upon completion.

Here is a selection of fifteen MOOCs (seven in part 1 of the blog, and eight in part 2) starting in the upcoming weeks, and covering a range of topics from social entrepreneurship, to ethical decision making, greening the economy, and sustainability more broadly. To see the first part of this post click here.

8. Introduction to Environmental Law and Policy, organised by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, explores the existing legal regimes governing pollution, water law, endangered species, toxic substances, environmental impact analyses and environmental risk. The course starts on the 8th of September and goes for 6 weeks.

9. Designing Cities is a 10-week course organised by the University of Pennsylvania, starting on the 14th of September. The course explores visionary and practical concepts of city design and planning, past and present, and how design can address such looming challenges as urban population growth, climate change and rising sea levels. Students will also be encouraged to make proposals for city design and development, starting with their own immediate environment.

10. Innovation: The Key to Business Sustainability is a 3-week course given by the University of Leeds starting on the 15th of September. The course will look at how individuals and organisations with a willingness to embrace change (to wonder ‘what if’), can challenge the status quo and work together to turn ideas into reality for the benefit of the business and, in many cases, the wider society, and the way we live

11. Delft University has a number of courses starting in September including Introduction to Water and Climate, Next Generation Infrastructures, Technology for Biobased Products, and Solving Complex Problems. Their course on Responsible Innovation will address the societal implications of new technologies and show how one can incorporate ethical considerations into technical innovations. The course starts in November and lasts 8 weeks.

12. Lund University is organising a course called Greening the Economy: Lessons from Scandinavia, starting in January 2015. The course will explore greening the economy on four levels—individual, business, city, and nation. It will look at the relationships between these levels and give practical examples of the complexities and solutions across levels, using Scandinavia as a unique starting point.

13. Generating the Wealth of Nations, organised by the University of Melbourne, gives a survey of the history of economic development in the world over the past 300 years through this 7-week course. In addition to dealing with what has happened, the course will emphasise what is known about why and which lessons from historical experience can provide understanding of how some countries today are so rich yet others remain so poor.

14. Ideas of the Twentieth Century explores how philosophy, science, art, literature, and history have shaped the last century and the world today, and how our understanding of the physical world is constantly being overthrown and reconstructed by thinkers and leaders of today. The course, organised by the University of Texas Austin, started on August 27th and will last 15 weeks.

15. Last but not least, University of California, Berkeley is putting on a course called The Science of Happiness starting September 9th and lasting 10 weeks. The course will teach the science of positive psychology, which explores the roots of a happy and meaningful life. Lessons will come from research in the fields of psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and beyond. You can audit the course or pursue a Verified Certification of Achievement for a fee.

Sustainability related MOOCs starting September and Beyond (part 1)

Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 5.41.24 PMSeptember has arrived, which means the start to a new school year for many students around the world. It also means the start of a range of new MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) available for free online, presented by Universities across the world. These courses are open to anyone with an interest in the topic, last between three and fourteen weeks, and take from three to eight hours of time per week to complete. Many of them also provide a certificate upon completion.

Here is a selection of fifteen MOOCs (seven in part 1 of the blog) beginning in the coming weeks, which cover a range of topics from social entrepreneurship, to ethical decision making, greening the economy and sustainability more broadly.

  1. Copenhagen Business School is organising a 12-week course on Social Entrepreneurship starting on the 3rd of September. The course will teach students how to create societal impact through social entrepreneurship, how to identify an opportunity and how to make it a reality. During the course students will form groups with other students online to identify an opportunity to create social change, develop a business model, and outline ideas in a business plan, which they will submit in the end to possibly receive start-up funding.
  2. The University of Exeter has an 8-week course starting on the 8th of September on Discovering Business in Society. This introductory course taught in conjunction with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) looks at how businesses function and interact with the wider socio-economic environment, including tensions brought about by competition for resources, the legal and moral framework for business activity, and the complexities of knowledge management in organisations. The course will require 5 hours of work per week and at the end students can pay to take an exam to qualify for a Statement of Attainment.
  3. The Age of Sustainability is a 14-week course organised by Columbia University and presented by Jeffrey Sachs. The course gives students an understanding of the key challenges and pathways to sustainability development drawing on the most recent developments in the social, policy, and physical sciences.
  4. University of Illinois has an 8-week Introduction to Sustainability course that started on the 25th of August. The course explores how today’s human societies can endure in the face of global change, ecosystem degradation, and resource limitation. The course will focus on sustainability theory and practices including population, ecosystems, global change, energy, agriculture, water, environmental economics and policy, ethics, and cultural history.
  5. The University of Leiden is organising a course called Configuring the World: A Critical Political Economy Approach starting September 1st, which looks at the influences that shape the world in which we live today, including globalisation, diversity, governance, international institutions, and economic development and social change. The course lasts 8 weeks and students can earn a Certificate of Completion.
  6. The University of Lausanne has a course on Unethical Decision Making in Companies starting on the 22nd of September and lasting seven weeks. The course aims to empower students to analyse the risks of unethical or illegal behaviour that might be triggered by strong organisational contexts. It will draw from various disciplines such as management, psychology, sociology, philosophy, and literature in order to learn what these disciplines contribute to a better understanding of unethical behaviour. The course is free and students can receive a Certificate of Completion.
  7. The University of Maryland’s course on Making Better Groups Decisions: Voting, Judgement Aggregation and Fair Division is a 7-week course that starts on September 1st. The course explores different decision making methods and the problems that arise when a group of people need to make a decision. It examines the question “Can we and how do we find a choice that is fair”?

Engaging Students in Making Sustainability a Reality – Babson College

Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 9.02.08 AMStudents are an incredible resource for schools moving forward with responsible management and sustainability on campus. Finding ways to get them actively engaged in not just supporting, but actively creating and implementing innovative sustainability projects on campus can bring about a range of positive impacts.

At Babson College in the US a group of students are selected each year to help the school move forward with its sustainability goals on campus and in the curriculum. I recently spoke with Michael Chmura about how they engage students as interns in bringing their sustainability policies and principles to life.

Briefly describe Babson’s approach to sustainability and responsible management.
Babson’s approach to sustainability and responsible management in academics and operations is defined by the integration of three factors—Social, Environmental and Economic Responsibility, and Sustainability (SEERS)—into our curriculum, as core principles of Entrepreneurial Thought and Action, and as part of our commitment as a founding PRME Champions institution, and to climate neutrality by 2050 through our 2009 signing of the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment

What is the Sustainability Office Intern Programme?
Our student interns work in the Sustainability Office on a diverse set of projects, ranging from project development to communications and outreach. Interns act as peer educators through presentations to first year seminar courses, write our monthly newsletter, produce our social media, manage compost collection projects, conduct waste audits, educate about sustainable foods, and organise campus-wide sustainability events.

How does the programme work in practice?
Our students are hired through the common student leadership application used for all on-campus jobs. The position is paid and generally takes 6-8 hours per week. Students are selected based on their leadership ability, professionalism, and enthusiasm. Prior knowledge of sustainability is not required. The Sustainability Office staff meets every Friday to review project progress and assignments, and to plan future initiatives.

What are some of the projects that the interns work on?
Our students organised our annual move-out recycling event called “Slash the Trash,” to divert reusable goods to charity shops and collect recyclables during the end of year move-out from the residence halls. This programme has increased in size every year, from 3 tons last year to 5 tons this past May. Some of our students created a module on sustainability for teaching in the first year seminar course. Another project involved students analysing the residence hall collection system, and doing trials of different methods of collecting recyclables to improve diversion rates. The interns have also been involved in researching how apparel is purchased on campus by departments and found sustainable alternatives for purchasing.

What have been some of the challenges? Successes?
Both our move-out recycling programme and first year seminar module continue to be implemented every year. Our first year of “Slash the Trash” led to an overall waste reduction of nearly 29% of the waste associated with end-of-the-year student move out, and increased the move out recycling rate by 12.63 tons.

Challenges continue to be increasing individual behaviour in recycling rates throughout the year. We hope to remove barriers to recycling through targeted education programmes and better-designed waste diversion stations in our campus centre.

What advice would you have for other schools thinking of putting something similar into place?
Paying students, even a modest hourly rate, makes your position competitive with other campus jobs, and provides a level of accountability and responsibility. It also teaches students that you can get paid for something you are passionate about and that they can look for similar jobs beyond their time at Babson.

What’s next for the interns?
We are focused on engaging more of our campus community through direct outreach in offices and residence halls. Our goal is to make sustainable living a social norm at Babson – and our continued work with students’ residential life is essential in reaching that goal.

Creative Sustainability – Aalto University School of Business

It is widely thought that a multidisciplinary approach is needed in order to teach sustainability effectively. Aalto University School of Business has used this idea to create an innovative master’s degree that brings together three different schools, and the students, faculty and courses from the three different disciplines, to enable students to think about, explore and develop innovative solutions to business, environmental and societal problems. I had the chance recently to speak with Minna Halme and Armi Temmes about this unique programme.

What is the Creative Sustainability Master’s Programme?

Our Master’s Degree Programme in Creative Sustainability is a joint programme with the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, the School of Business and the School of Engineering. It is a multidisciplinary learning platform in the fields of architecture, business, design, landscape planning, real estate and urban planning. The programme is also offered as a minor for master-level students at Aalto University.

The programme is unique because it brings together students from different fields to study in multidisciplinary teams to create new sustainable solutions for human, urban, industry and business environments. The pedagogical approach is based on integrating teaching and research, problem-based learning, blended learning and a strong connection to practical outcomes.

The programme began in 2007 before Aalto University was even in operation. At the time, key individuals from the different departments came together to create this programme as a minor study programme. When Aalto University was formed in 2010, the programme became a master’s level programme.

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

Students have access to a wide range of elective courses from across the different schools involved in the programme. We have several critical academic reading seminars but also courses like “How to Change the World: Innovation toward Sustainability,” where sustainability challenges are taken as starting points for innovation of new forms of individual action, economic activity, business models, and organisational forms. There are also project courses that offer the opportunity to work with real-life sustainability questions of companies, NGOs or public organisations.

Why have a Master’s in Creative Sustainability? Why make it interdisciplinary with science, art, technology and business?

The interdisciplinary Master’s Programme follows directly the aims of Aalto University itself – to combine technology, business and design. We believe this is knowledge any business needs to have.

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

Cooperation is an investment; it takes time and patience to develop a common Masters’ Programme with other schools. The programme takes place across different schools that all have their own study structures. In order to make this work a lot of time was needed to circumvent the existing bureaucracy and lobby for special rules for interdisciplinary studies. The rewards, however, are great.

Preparing for the Upcoming UN Discussions Around Carbon Pricing

Climate SummitIn late September 2014, 300 Heads of State and Government, Chief Executive Officers, Civil Society Leaders and Heads of UN Agencies will convene in New York for the UN Climate Summit 2014. Integral to the summit, the Private Sector Forum (PSF) will bring the voice of the private sector to the intergovernmental debate, addressing in particular how businesses across sectors are taking action on climate change.

The latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes clear the importance of putting a price on carbon to help limit the increase in global mean temperature to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. In support of this goal, the PSF will be putting a particular focus on carbon pricing, and more specifically, on actions that the public and private sectors can take to achieve an equitable and fair valuation of carbon through long-term strategies, investments and policies.

Through the Caring for Climate initiative, organised by the UN Global Compact, the UN Environment Programme and the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Business Leadership Criteria on Carbon Pricing have been developed. The Criteria, which will be featured at the Climate Summit, look at integrating carbon pricing into long-term strategies and investment decisions, responsible policy advocacy, and communicating on progress (a reporting requirement of the UN Global Compact aimed at advancing transparency and accountability, and driving continuous improvement). This Criteria complements the Statement on Putting a Price on Carbon, developed by the World Bank Group and other partners, which has already been signed by more than 20 countries and more than 230 companies around the world, acknowledging strong global support for action on pricing carbon. The World Bank Groups also report in the 2014 State and Trends in Carbon Pricing, that nearly 40 countries, and more than 20 cities, states and provinces, currently use carbon pricing mechanisms such as emissions trading systems and carbon taxes.

A range of resources on climate change and the private sector are available to engage students in these discussions in the lead up to the summit. A report released by the Caring for Climate initiative, Adapting for a Green Economy: Companies, Communities and Climate Change, provides a wealth of information around climate change and its implications, both in terms of risks and opportunities for business. The Climate and Energy Action Hub, part of the UN Global Compact’s Business Partnership Hub, is an online platform where companies can upload and browse partnership project opportunities, and showcase private sector climate projects that have potential for scalability. The Private Sector Initiative – database of actions on adaptation features good practices and profitable climate change adaptation activities being taken up by private companies (sometimes in partnership with NGOs or the public sector) from a wide range of regions and sectors. Adaptation activities may relate either to ensuring the resilience of business operations, or the provision of technologies or services that assist in the adaptation of vulnerable communities to climate change.

UNESCO launched an online database of resources on Climate Change Education (CCE), which provides access to hundreds of resources on good practices, teaching and learning materials, scientific articles and multimedia material from around the world in English, French and Spanish, organised by education level/type of resource. They have also created a special toolkit on how to integrate Climate Change Education into the curriculum which, although created for use by secondary school teachers, provides a range of links to regional resources as well as high quality graphs that can be used in the classroom.

Leading up to the Climate Summit 2014 and to COP 21 (December 2015), we will share opportunities for universities to engage in and follow the debate, as well as resources on climate change and responsible management that can be used in the classroom. Schools can engage in dialogues planned globally through the UN Global Compact Local Networks, which explore climate change risks and opportunities, sustainable development, and climate change adaptation at the local level. Happening in parallel to the Climate Summit, schools in and around New York City can get engaged through Climate Week NYC, or online, following #Climate2014, #climatechange, @UN_ClimateTalks on Twitter.


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