Engaging Employees with Intellectual Disability – Antwerp Management School

idwork-pagina-18ID@Work at Antwerp Management School in Belgium is a unique research project aimed at supporting organisations in attracting, developing and retaining employees with an intellectual disability. The project identifies the levers that can help facilitate the employment of disabled people, as well as the potential challenges and obstacles related to this type of employment effort. Intellectual disabilities are part of most of the Sustainable Development Goals including Goal 8 (unemployment rate and average hour earnings of persons with disabilities) and Goal 16 (increasing the proposition of positions for persons with disabilities in different organisations including in decision making positions).

I recently spoke with Professor Bart Cambré, associate dean research from Antwerp Management School about this innovative initiative.


How did ID@Work come about?

In the margin of the 2014 Special Olympics European Summer Games, Antwerp Management School conducted a study on the employment of people with intellectual disability (ID). The research was done by an inclusive team existing of two athletes participating in the Special Olympics European Summer Games and a senior researcher without ID. Their study focused mainly on employment in sheltered workshops and social economy. A first white paper was published.
The positive experience Antwerp Management School had by working with the researchers with ID, their added value during interviews, and the obvious need of more information and data on employment of people with ID in the regular economy, motivated AMS to develop a new project: ID@Work was born.
What is ID@Work?

ID@Work is a unique scientific project on the inclusion of workers with intellectual disability in the regular economy. ID@Work, stands for intellectual disability@work and has 6 goals:

  • hire the researchers with ID who volunteered in the previous study
  • conduct a study on the employment of workers with ID in the regular economy
  • write a white paper on this study (at this moment only available in Dutch and French)
  • develop a free scan for employers
  • develop a coaching programme for employers wishing to hire workers with intellectual disability
  • organise HR Master classes to train HR personal to hire workers with intellectual disability. This will be an exclusive AMS product.

The first 4 goals have already been achieved. The most recent one was launched November, 2016 and is a scan enabling employers to check how ready a company is to hire workers with intellectual disability. After having taken the test, every participant receives instant feedback and can ask for a full report and profile including advice and links with further resources to engage employees with intellectual disability. Both the tool and the report are free of charges.

What were some of the results of the study you conducted?

For the study mentioned previously, the inclusive team visited 26 companies and interviewed over 60 people all involved in inclusive work with people with ID.
The team extracted 6 pillars on which working with people with ID is or should be based. It is obvious that if one of the pillars is lacking or not equally balanced compared to the other ones, the risk of failure or a less positive experience with working with an employee with ID rises.
Those 6 pillars are:
1. Knowledge & Expertise need to be present before starting. If the company lacks knowledge, call in the help of experts.

  1. Strategy – refers to the reason for inclusion. What are the motives of an employer to hire people with ID? Is there an economic inspired strategy or rather social responsibility?
  2. Job matching – refers to the processes to match a candidate with the tasks needed to be done. Job design is a key element.
  3. Work culture – refers to the values and norms of an organisation when it comes to diversity, performance, organisational practices and policy. Integration and respect are key.
  4. Experience & Support – how much experience does the organisation have in managing diversity and to what extend is there support to facilitate the inclusive policy?
  5. Empowerment – refers to the level of autonomy and self-reliance of the worker with ID. Both need to be stimulated and can be endangered when the employer/organisation has a (too) protective attitude towards the worker with ID.

What have been some of the challenges and successes?
Working with two researchers with ID has been eye-opening. It has become clear that they have another view on the world compared to researchers without ID and that their vision leads towards other types of questions and unexpected answers from the interviewees. It was definitely an added value to the study.

Also, by walking the talk, Antwerp Management School became its own case study. Experiencing real live that things go wrong when the job doesn’t match, that getting professional accompaniment and the right financial incentives as an employer, and other types of help is a complicated adventure in Belgium.

We’ve proven the need of a project like ID@Work to facilitate the employment of workers with ID and to make employers reflect on the possibility and the benefits of hiring people with ID. The fact that not only placement agencies and care organisations, but also the associations of entrepreneurs back the project and promote the test, is a key element for making this project transcend the purely scientific level and enable the tools to actually make a real difference for people with ID in the regular economy.

What does a school – or any other employer for that matter – needs to know before hiring a person with ID?
The most important thing is to gain knowledge on intellectual disability and to know what kind of tasks you would this person like to execute and what basic skills he/she needs to have able to do this. For example, would you like to hire a person with ID to help in administration, then list the tasks involved and the required skills. Does the job include sending emails, look up things on the Internet or use spread sheets to make listings, then be aware of the fact that the worker needs to know how to use a computer, write emails in a proper way, etc. Do not expect these skills to be granted. Reflect on the question if your company/organisation is willing to invest time and money into extra IT training for the worker with ID. Also determine if the tasks you would like to be executed by a person with ID are sustainable or limited in time. If so, you might need to foresee other matching tasks for the worker with ID later on or make him/her aware of the fact that the job is only temporary.

Second is communication. Make sure that the whole company or organisation carries the initiative. Everybody needs to know why a person with ID is being hired and what the benefits are.
Third, set boundaries. In a people and socially oriented environment such as a school, the danger of ‘over’-caring is real. Being too protective is not stimulating the empowerment of the worker and will consolidate the innate helplessness the majority of people with ID are locked into. On the other hand, too much care will weigh on the co-workers of the person with ID. Because of the innate helplessness and the fact that the borders between private life and work are not always clear to the worker with ID, they keep asking for all kinds of help if co-workers do not set clear boundaries. The danger for workers to become after-hour caregivers for their colleague with ID is real.

What’s next?

With another 6 months of the project left, we’re now working on the last two goals of the project: a coaching program for employers and HR Master Classes. The first one will be developed with agencies already active in placement and job coaching for workers with a distance to the labor market. The HR Master Classes will be an exclusive program by Antwerp Management School.

Parallel to this development we will be analysing the data harvested with the ID@Work scan and use the results to consult experts and authorities in improving policies regarding inclusive work.
We secretly hope to be able to install a chair on the subject later on.

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How to Engage Students Around the SDGs – Antwerp Management School

ams-sdg-student-ambassador-tshirtOver the past three years, Antwerp Management School has stepped up its efforts to implement the PRME principles. Apart from having been a Signatory since 2012, they also hosted the Belgium Global Compact Network Chapter. Sustainability is a key focus area of their school, in particular what they refer to as societal consciousness of students in relation to sustainability.

I recently spoke with Eva Geluk, part of the team at BASF Deloitte Elia Chair on Sustainability and Manager of the Competence Centre Corporate Responsibility at Antwerp Management School about one of their newest programmes, the SDG Student Ambassador Campaign, that aims to engage students in sustainability discussions and, in particular, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

What is the SDG Student Ambassador Campaign?

At AMS, we aim to empower students with the necessary knowledge, skills and reflection on societal challenges that will not only help them to develop their own perspective on corporate responsibilities, but also help them by turning these into future business opportunities. As the SDGs are gaining increasingly visibility in the world of business and civil society at large we thought it was time to promote the Goals within our student community and empower them with the necessary knowledge to challenge their peers and faculty. Worldwide her Majesty Queen Mathilde of Belgium is one of the official SDG Ambassadors on global level.

Every year all of our students participate in a one-day programme consisting of an introduction to sustainability in the morning and an interactive and fun experiment in the afternoon. The morning lectures are on ‘Sustainable business = business’, followed by two interactive sessions on ‘Cultures of sustainability’ and ‘The evolutionary basis of sustainable behavior’. The afternoon session is an experiment through which students experienced (un)sustainability in an interactive, integral, and original way.

This year during the programme we launched the SDG Student Ambassador Campaign initiative looking for 16 Student Ambassadors – it is a voluntary initiative on top of their day-to-day curricula work. As there is no course incentive for them it is purely involvement based upon their own intrinsic motivation illustrating that this generation is not only aware of a changing world but also wants to actively contribute to it.

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

We see the creation of SDG Student Ambassadors not only as a means to promote the Goals within our own schools, both with fellow students and with faculty that teaches on their programs, but also as a means to further empower our students to critically assess the role of the Goals in management education. After all it is them who will be going out into business once they finish their degree and become the leaders of tomorrow. The original idea was to create 16 SDG Student Ambassadors that would facilitate a workshop with companies committed to the SDGs for their fellow students. To our delight the interest was that great that we ended up with 54 SDG Student Ambassadors. This represents almost a third of our total student population in the Full Time Masters division.

This group of SDG Student Ambassadors will be provided with extra information and get the opportunity to participate in conferences and events organized around the different sustainability themes. The best project will also get a prize for their work and we will create visibility for them where we can during their academic year. They have all received a SDG training session provided by CIFAL Flanders – part of UNITAR training centers, based in Antwerp and focusing all its training activities on the SDGs.

What are some of the projects that the students will be involved in?

Because of the success of the programme, we adapted our approach by suggesting a few more projects and letting room for the creation of own initiatives by the students. The result is a multiple of diverse projects:

  • A project where students will conduct a workshop with different companies active on the SDGs for their fellow students
  • a project where students will conduct a workshop on the SDGs in local schools
  • a project that will look at the own footprint of the student community
  • a project that will work guerilla style drawing attention in creative ways to the goals by for example organizing flash mobs in different cities in Belgium
  • a project that will organize a debating night on the SDGs and invite relevant and inspiring speakers
  • a project that will identify documentaries on the different goals and organize a movie night with teaching questions attached to it so that they can be used in class too
  • and a project with Aim2Flourish where students will interview business leaders that started a company with the aim of doing good
  • and finally a project that will look at SDGs in reporting and a project that creates our own SDG You Tube channel

What have been some of the challenges? 

Managing the additional workload that the great interest by students to become a SDG Student Ambassador had created. But this is only a pleasure! It would help to have a fixed budget for this project hence the leverage internally that this project creates is so important!

Successes?

The fact that we got 54 SDG Student Ambassadors instead of the 16 that we were hoping for was a massive success and gives us internal leverage to further promote not only the SDGs but PRME initiatives as a whole.

The fact that there is so much interest from the students is obviously very exciting. It gives not only hope about the next generation of young leaders understanding the importance of sustainable development in a business context but also fulfills our aim of empowering the students with knowledge and critical thinking that they can use with their peers, faculty and future employers. Also the fact that they are actively involved in finding own projects is exciting as it underlines the empowerment approach and shows that it is working. Thirdly, it has the potential to become an important internal leverage for putting even more focus and effort in implementing the PRME principles in all of our teaching, research and activities as almost a third of our students illustrated this much interest in the theme.

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

Do not think too much about it but just do it. We launched it as an experiment, with only the only objective being having 16 student ambassadors and one project so being flexible in what comes at you and have internal support from above is also essential.

What’s next for the initiative?

Now all focus is on executing the different projects and raising awareness on them and the AMS SDG Student Ambassador campaign at large. Early spring we will evaluate and see how we can further build not only the student empowerment programme itself with the overall aim of getting ECTS points attached to it, but also the SDG Student Ambassador campaign and create continuity. Furthermore we would love to share our experiences and the outcome of the projects with other schools as much as possible.

Our approach to responsible management education is supported by the BASF Deloitte Elia Chair on Sustainability – a joint academic partnership by the faculty of applied economic science at the University of Antwerp and Antwerp Management School. For more read AMS’s SIP report.

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Sustainable Business Examples from Around the World – Italy, Australia, and New Zealand

Barilla

Barilla

As businesses become more and more engaged in sustainability around the world, we are presented with an increasing range of examples of active companies. However, when I speak with students and faculty, they say that they often hear about the same examples from the same international companies over and over again.

In an attempt to share some new best practice examples, I asked a handful of faculty members from around the world about their favourite classroom examples of local companies that are actively involved in sustainability. Here are some examples from Italy, Australia, and New Zealand.

Manuela Brusoni and Veronica Vecchi, SDA Bocconi School of Management, Italy

Consumer banking sector Intesa Sanpaolo: Within the Intesa Sanpaolo Group, Banca Prossima is the bank with the mission of serving non-profit organisations, with a specific service model, products and consulting services dedicated to this type of customers. The Bank has developed a rating model for social businesses that integrates the traditional methods of bank analysis with elements peculiar to the third sector, such as the ability in fundraising. Furthermore, Banca Prossima launched in 2011 “Terzo Valore”, a crowdfunding portal which allows anyone to lend or donate money to non-profit organisation projects directly, without intermediaries and with principal repayment guaranteed by the Bank.

Food sector Barilla: Barilla is the top quality and leading pasta producer in the world, which promotes the mediterranean diet as the best and healthiest solution for the people and the planet. Barilla founded the Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) to informs not only policy makers and insiders of the agri-food chain, but all the people on the big topics linked to food and nutrition with regards to climate change and the world’s paradoxes. Barilla has been considered the most sustainable pasta supplier by the “Sustainability Index Programme” of Walmart.

Fashion Brunello Cucinelli: The core mission of the company is based on a contemporary form of humanism that over the years the international press has identified as a “humanistic” capitalism, where profit can be sought without damaging mankind. Its clients view Brunello Cucinelli as an expression of a sophisticated concept of contemporary lifestyle and the brand is firmly rooted in quality excellence, Italian craftsmanship and creativity; these pillars are considered the foundations on which sustainable growth can be built in the long run.

Learn more about how SDA Bocconi is engaging students in impact investing.

Suzanne Young, La Trobe Business School, Australia

Yarra Valley Water which has mapped their practices against the SDGs based on understanding what issues the organisation can influence.. These included clean water and sanitation, industry innovation and infrastructure and gender equality.

As another example, the National Australia Bank has a focus on working towards a more inclusive society, including financial inclusion. They are using the SDGs as a way to mobilise innovation to drive business and societal success. The Bank is supporting agribusiness customers to value natural capital for instance. The SDG of Decent Work and Economic Growth and No Poverty provide a lens for their work, especially in impact investing.

Learn more about La Trobe’s participation in the CR3+ Network.

Christian Schott, Victoria Business School, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

The youth hostel association of NZ is one of the largest accommodation providers for budget conscious travellers in NZ and have set sustainability as a guiding principle for the entire organisation.  Their efforts to integrate economic, environmental and social sustainability have been exemplary and they are willing to take calculated risks to trial new or innovative ideas that have the potential to enhance their sustainability ambitions.  I have been working closely with YHA Wellington which is an exemplar of the broader YHA NZ network.

Whale Watch Kaikoura An inspirational Maori owned and Maori operated tourism business that carefully balances the need for environmental and economic sustainability with a strong commitment to social and cultural sustainability. Both Maori cultural interpretation and environmental protection are core principles of this whale watching business.

Learn more about how Christian Schott is bringing technology into the classroom to teach sustainability.

 

United for Refugees – JAMK University of Applied Sciences

image003Support for the continuing education of newcomers is quite broad in Finland, and as a university there is always the consideration for exactly how to support educational needs of asylum seekers and other newcomers at a university level, many of whom arrive with extensive professional experience and are highly educated. In response to this, students and staff at the School of Business at JAMK University of Applied Sciences organized the JAMK United for Refugees project in September 2015. The project is based in a cross-cultural management course where teachers and students develop their own approaches and solutions to supporting the present and future multicultural Finnish society. In response to this, Steven Crawford, a senior lecturer at the School of Business, decided to integrate asylum seekers into the classroom through the Open University system as credit earning students to share their stories and contribute to the course, and to connect students and staff directly to the refugee crisis. I spoke with Steven about this successful and scalable project.

What is United for Refugees?

The JAMK United for Refugees project began at the start of the fall semester of 2015 at JAMK University of Applied Sciences in Jyväskylä, Finland. The refugee crisis was quite prominent in the media then, as it still is, and I initially thought we might “pack a van” with personal sorts of supplies and head to Greece, where refugees were landing in large numbers on beaches. However, when we examined the idea more closely the reality set in that we were too far away from Greece. So my colleague Ronan Browne and I brought the idea of a refugee support project into a cross-cultural management course as a “local response” to the crisis, and offered it to the students as a potential project. They universally embraced the project idea and the development process started from there and is now (fall 2016) in its third semester.

How does it work?

A key feature of the project is that it forms a framework for the cross-cultural management course in which the underlying pedagogical approaches include experiential learning, meaning-centred education, and transformative adult learning. We activated students by giving them a stakeholder role, organized them into distinct task-oriented groups, and gave them the power to make their own decisions about what sorts of activities they would develop and execute. For the initial fall 2015 project semester, the students designed and executed a campus-wide awareness campaign that included and engaged numerous other stakeholders in our community, including asylum seekers. In spring 2016 the project continued in a more directed way so that we could develop a more tangible response to the crisis in the form of an educational game. Now the first version of that game is complete and we are moving into a phase in which we promote the product across Finland and support users, while also training students to facilitate game play.

What have been some of the interesting experiences so far?

At this point over two-hundred students, teachers, administrators and other stakeholders have participated in our project. Many of them have been affected in some significant positive way through their contributions and participation. Two of our asylum seeking students from the spring 2016 semester are now Open University track master’s students, thus proving that education as a path to integration is a primary means through which both newcomers and hosts benefit. Presently, in this fall 2016 semester, among our nine registered asylum-seeking students I believe that most if not all of them have had their residency applications rejected by the Finnish state. And still they press forward their desire to reside in Finland permanently. Our project of course is not involved in the political processes that produce these decisions, which presently lean toward residency application rejection. And so during each phase of our project there are very compelling personal and social situations both above and below the surface. I am concerned at the moment about one Iraqi lawyer from our 2016 spring semester. She lost the immediate male members of her family and brought her eight children to Finland. All children of asylum seekers in Finland attend school, and her children did also. But I have lost track of her now, so I wonder what her status is and how things will turn out for her and her children. This woman brought discussion into our course about the situation and roles of women in Iraqi society, and the resulting dialogue was compelling and constructive for all of our students.

What have been some of the challenges? 

In my view biggest opportunity is to positively affect the attitudes of Finnish people, those who comprise the dominant group that is the “host,” and who control the processes and outcomes of the asylum seeking system. As is the case in most European nations a sizable part of our host population feels threatened by the refugee crisis and its potential for changing things at home. On the other hand, many Finnish citizens see the very positive potential that diversity brings to societies in the global age. There is tension between these two perspectives, and so we seek to learn about and address the needs and concerns of all Finnish inhabitants about their future together.

In our project course the working language is English, and so all of the course students must have at least a conversational level of English. Thus there have been a few prospective refugee students who were not able to join the course but were able to find some kind of education opportunity elsewhere in our city that they could participate in. There is also the question of student assessment, and in this case I chose to employ the option of either a pass/fail grade or a numeric grade. If a student participates fully in classroom, groupwork and development activities I am comfortable in giving them a “pass” grade. If he or she also completes the “academic” requirements, which includes for example reflective essay-based assessments, I have the option of giving them a numeric grade. Sometimes our expectations, norms and “rules” must bend a bit to fit the urgency of a given situation. At least it is my view that educators have a distinct social responsibility to engage and work with these newcomers, and this may require us to change our practices.

Successes? 

All of our asylum-seeking students who participate fully earn university credits at a Finnish university. Perhaps this is not the first idea that comes to one’s mind when thinking about asyslum seekers. Two of our spring 2016 asylum seeking students received permanent residency status and are now taking Open University master’s-level courses. That is enough in my view to conclude that the project is successful. Beyond that, I sense that we have a positive impact across our community in terms of helping Finland to manage its part of the global refugee crisis and to provide unique and particularly socially relevant educational opportunities to the school’s more “traditional” sorts of students such as our Finnish and international degree students, and also our international exchange students. From a pedagogical perspective, the project has provided us with an excellent framework for a course that sets out to help student learn how to manage through cultures, including the approaches needed to activate experiential learning, meaning-centred education, and transformative adult learning. Overall, taking a community-wide stakeholder approach has allowed us to engage a wide range of participants while moving from a local to a national response to the crisis.

 

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

There are many criteria that need to be addressed for a project such as JAMK United for Refugees to form and progress. First, the organizing teachers need support from the highest levels of the school. Our project also has a strong management team which now includes three teachers and quite purposefully includes students, some of whom are earning thesis, internship and project studies credits through their management level particpation. In this way multiple educational agendas converge to form and drive the project.

Bringing the project into a course may support both specfic course and curricular program-level intended learning outcomes. I suggest that a stakeholder analysis be conducted at the start in order to identify those who may be served and those who might help. After that, the students should be empowered through ownership to make the project happen. Engaging outside partners and stakeholders in the project is also essential.

I would conclude this section by pointing out that at JAMK University of Applied Sciences there is a distinct emphasis on projects and practical “hands-on” learning. And so this particular project fits quite nicely for us and also makes the project realizable based on our limited resources.

What’s next for the initiative?

We are presently rolling out our base training product, diversophy® New Horizons, across Finland to teachers and trainers, and our fall semester students are creating additional game content that focuses more specifically on certain topics, such as youth culture, sports, and employability & entrepreneurship. As part of the cross-cultural management course we are training our students how to facilitate our game in multicultural contexts. We are interested in youth culture because we know that Finnish law requires that all children, including newcomers, go to school. And so we know that there is a lot of interaction every day between dissimilar others in schools. We are interested in sports because, I suppose, Finland is a very healthy and sports conscious society. And we are interested in improving the receptivity of Finnish employers to newcomers, and to help newcomers acquire the insider’s perspectives needed to advance their career and business goals as contributors to Finland’s society. There is plenty left to do!

For information about the project visit the JAMK United for Refugees Facebook page.

For information about the the game, visit diversophy® New Horizons.

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Collaborating across borders – The CR3+ Network

La Trobe Business School in Australia has been a PRME signatory since 2008 and an active PRME Champion. They joined forces with several other PRME Signatories to create CR3+ Network. Together the network provides a supportive platform to build international collaboration and enables the participant business schools to work with the PRME and build international and national capacity in Responsible Management Education. I spoke with Associate Professor Suzanne Young, Head of Department and Dr Swati Nagpal, Department of Management and Marketing, from La Trobe Business School, about their participation in this network.

What is the CR3+ Network and how did it come about?

La Trobe Business School has been working with ISAE (Brazil), Audencia Nantes School of Management (France) and Hanken School of Economics (Finland) since 2008 in an effort to exchange ideas, pedagogy, curriculum and research in the area of corporate responsibility. Head of LBS, Professor Paul Mather wrote: “With the support of the Principles for Responsible Executive Education, the CR3+ network’s objective is to promote a debate, inspire changes and propose solutions for challenges related to sustainability and governance, interacting and reaching what UNESCO calls ‘The 5th Pillar of Education: Learning to change and to change society.’”

What are the key features of the programme?

A key outcome of the partnership has been the hosting of an annual CR3+ conference, which has been held at each of the member institutions. Past themes have included governance and sustainability; CSR: expanding horizons, and the power of responsibility. The aim of the CR3+ conferences is to strengthen the partnership and dialogue around sustainability and responsibility, and provide a forum where ideas, developments and concerns in regards to these issues and the work of the PRME can be brought forward.

How is CR3+ different than other similar networks you are part of? How did you meet these specific schools and decide to create a network? 

It involves four schools that are strongly committed to PRME, and which later became PRME Champions, so PRME is very much at the core of CR3+. The network has been driven by the will to learn from each other, bearing in mind that the four schools are from very different and distant parts of the world (Australia, Brazil, Finland and France). From a very early point the core idea was to create a platform for these learning possibilities by organizing a conference involving all 3 (later 4) schools.

What have been some of the challenges? 

The schools are different and distant, not only in geographical terms but also in cultural and institutional terms. Creating special exchanges for students, for example, has faced a number of practical challenges related to differences in terms of tuition fees, types of study programmes, periods of studies, accreditations, etc. Different expectations about the conference have also caused some challenges but overall the learning opportunities and outcomes have far outweighed the challenges.

Successes? 

We have now done one full round of CR3+ conferences (in all 4 schools) and are about to start a second cycle. The mobilization from the different schools has been on the rise – for example, ISAE/FGV researchers have sent many abstracts to the CR3+ conference to be organized in Helsinki – and there has been growing integration between CR3+ events and PRME chapters – the conference in Helsinki will also be tied to a doctoral course organized by the PRME Chapter Nordic (more specifically Hanken, Stockholm School of Economics, BI Norwegian School of Management and CBS).

The CR3+ network has also enabled joint research projects and resulting publications as well as student and staff exchanges.

In autumn 2011, LBS hosted a masters-level exchange student from Hanken to work on a community development project.  Similar student exchanges are currently being planned for LBS students to have the opportunity to extend PRME –related projects at the other CR3+ partner universities.

In 2015, a collaboration between LBS and ISAE tested a new approach to ‘Promoting internationalisation and cross-cultural competency through online collaboration’, which provided opportunities for LBS MBA students to engage in an academic cross-cultural experience with Masters students from ISAE.  The students replicated real-world global communication, by collaborating virtually with people from a different cultural background in real time and jointly solving a series of management problems using online software.

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

The network’s success is due to the relationships between key academic staff in each of the business schools and is also based in their common belief in and focus on the goals of the PRME mission. Members of the network were all early adopters of the PRME and champions of change in their respective institutions. Each School brings to the network their own expertise and demonstrates the national differences in Responsibility and Sustainability initiatives that are seen in academia, industry and government.

Each of the business schools have supported the CR3+ network as they acknowledge that working collaboratively provides greater opportunities for staff and students than working alone. Benefits in research, teaching, partnerships and dialogue have been demonstrated and the parties remain excited about opportunities that are coming from working with others in the new SDG project

What’s next for the initiative?

A pilot project is currently being led by LBS with support from the CR3+ network focused on facilitating a series of national workshops in each country between PRME higher education business schools and members of the UN Global Compact Network to present and interact on the theme of the SDGs. The outcomes of the workshops will be improved dialogue and networks between universities and other sectors, and the initiating of joint projects on the SDGs.

The 5th CR3+ conference will be held at Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki on 28-29 April 2017. The theme of the conference is ‘Making Corporate Responsibility Useful’, where the dominant logic of the ‘business case’ argument for CSR, and the legitimising effect this has on business engagement in CSR, will be brought into question.

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Bringing Technology into the classroom to engage students in Sustainability – Victoria University of Wellington

yasawa-3The Managing Visitor Impacts course at Victoria Business School, Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand was designed to deepen student’s understanding of sustainable tourism development by exposing them to the complexities, realities and tensions commonly observed in developing countries. A key part of the course is a group role-play scenario where students take a virtual fieldtrip based on a real Fijian island.

I spoke with Christian Schott from the School of Management at Victoria Business School about how he created and delivers this innovative course.

What is the Managing Visitor Impacts course?

The course was first taught in 2001 in recognition of the fact that tourism as an activity has both positive and negative impacts on the economy, environment, host community of a country or destination. These impacts need to be carefully managed and the course is designed around the concept of Sustainable Tourism Development as the impact assessment as well as the impact management framework.  The course also places great emphasis on applying a critical lens when examining current practices in tourism.

What happens during the course?

The students are put into groups of four students to work on a fictional contract with a fictional company, Synergy Tourism Consultants. The team had secured a contract to work on a (fictional) collaborative initiative between the Government of Fiji and NZ Aid to determine whether strategic sustainable tourism development of a remote Fijian island would result in the positive impacts (economic, environmental, socio-cultural) outweighing the negative ones.  As part of this fieldwork task students were exposed to many economic, environmental, social and cultural dynamics typical of a developing country as well as the island’s vulnerability to climate change.  Students were advised to ‘weave’ what they had learned in the lectures and readings into how they ‘digest’ what they learn on the virtual fieldtrip.

Students started their visit to the virtual island at the same point where boats arrive on the real island and proceeded to the Community Hall in the centre of the village to ‘virtually’ meet the community as part of the customary Fijian ‘I sevusevu’ (welcoming) ceremony by watching an ‘in-world’ video of the ceremony at the same place where it was recorded.  After this key piece of Fijian cultural protocol was satisfied, students set off on their fieldwork which included interviewing a range of community members (through videos embedded in the virtual island).  Informed by this fieldwork each project team had to decide whether they supported tourism development on the island or whether they would argue against tourism development.  The teams working on a sustainable tourism development proposal had to address five key criteria, while the teams proposing that no development should take place were asked to discuss the rationale behind their decision by addressing the economic, environmental, and socio-cultural reasons.  Following the group proposal each student was asked to write a reflective essay on this topic: reflect on how the fieldwork on the virtual island impacted on your learning (catalysts and challenges) and critically assess how such technology could be used by the tourism industry.

How is technology used in the course?

The virtual fieldtrip taken by students is based on a real Fijian island which I replicated using virtual reality software. The virtual island was based on extensive research I did in Fiji and accessible for students to explore by using the university computers or their home computer.  The project started by using Open Sim software (akin to Second Life) but has since embraced the latest in 3D gaming software by using the software package Unity.

 

This type of virtual reality technology, which can be further enhanced by using Virtual Reality headsets, thus fully immersing the student in the virtual environment, is very powerful in highlighting both the need for a more sustainable approach to Tourism Management by allowing the students to experience both the negative and positive impacts of tourism in a meaningful context (such as a village), as well as in forcing students to confront the realities and tensions that emerge when a tourism development plan is devised.

 

In keeping with the philosophy of using 21st century technology, both as a way of accessing information as well as developing skills for a more digitally focused future job market, the student groups reported the outcome of their fieldwork by using a wiki (online collaborative and media enhanced platform which can be accessed from anywhere in the world). Subsequently students write individual reflections about the experience of doing the virtual fieldtrip using a blog tool.

What have been some of the challenges? 

Technical support to resolve software and connectivity issues for the multiplayer version has been a challenge over the years; but with an increasing focus on digital technology and digital learning at VUW these issues are expected to become less prominent.  A few years ago when I was using Open Sim I was amazed to find that after using the program for about a year it became the victim of a cyber-vandalism which took several weeks to rectify; but the new version is no longer hosted on the web which means that cyber-attacks are luckily no longer possible.

Successes? 

The greatest success has been how the students have responded to the virtual fieldtrip.  Each year I do formal research on the pedagogical impact of the virtual fieldtrip and the findings have shown year after year that students respond in a very positive way and feel that it assists their learning about this important topic in a variety of ways.  A particularly noteworthy aspect is that the virtual fieldtrip fosters experiential learning which renders the learning process more meaningful and effective than for example reading a book chapter or journal article about the Fijian island instead. There has also been substantial interest from the academic community, which has resulted in the publication of a book chapter and several conference presentations about the virtual fieldtrip and its impact on student learning.

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

To align how and what we teach with contemporary society and technology I think that there is a place for virtual fieldtrips in many disciplines; particularly in disciplines where a real fieldtrip would be highly beneficial but is not feasible because of financial constraints or concerns about liability on real fieldtrips.  Appropriate resourcing by the institution both in terms of funding for the development of the software and in terms of technical expertise to resolve issues is imperative.

What’s next for the initiative?

I have been running experiments to explore the use of virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift as an even more immersive and effective way of experiencing the virtual island and its communities; I currently use the software as a screen version.  There are still some limitations with VR headsets for such a large and multifaceted environment but I will continue to pursue their incorporation into virtual fieldtrips.

Sustainability Study Abroad Programme – Haworth College of Business

michiganThe Haworth College of Business is the first college at Western Michigan University to require all students to have a course in sustainability. Through the school’s sustainability faculty learning community, faculty share best practices and pedagogical techniques to faculty who don’t teach sustainability to ensure that all students are learning about these important topics.

The school also offers additional experiential experiences to engage students in these discussions, in particular focus on the Sustainable Development Goals. One example is their Sustainability Study Abroad Programme in partnership with Christ University in Bangalore India. I spoke with Timothy B. Palmer, Professor of Strategic Management and Director Center for Sustainable Business Practices at Western Michigan University about this initiative.

What is the Sustainability Study Abroad Programme?

One of my deepest convictions is that business should be used to make society and communities better. I have therefore designed this study abroad to show students the great potential they have to use their professional skills to solve both business and social challenges. The two-week trip is interdisciplinary. We integrate social work students with business students because both disciplines study sustainability’s social pillar, however they do this from different vantage points. Social work students have keen insights into social challenges while business students understand scalable business models that might be leveraged to address these challenges. Indeed, India’s recent “CSR Mandate” essentially requires cooperation between business and social work professionals. By bringing both groups of students together in India, the trip’s rich context provides opportunities for significant student development.

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

The aim of this study abroad is to expose students to opportunities firms have to not only achieve lower costs of business in India, but to improve peoples’ lives while there. India has two very different sides: unbridled growth and prosperity alongside poverty. Our trip exposes students to both these sides. We visit firms such as Dell, Infosys, Toyota, Himalaya Drug Company, and the ITC Gardenia Hotel, Asia’s only LEED platinum hotel. Through these visits we hear about their sustainability initiatives including CSR programs. We also visit NGOs and women’s self-help groups; those organizations providing direct services to many of India’s most marginalized populations.

What impact has the program had on the students? The community?

The study abroad provides students an opportunity to experience the cultural delights of India. Students work with culinary arts students and make a five course meal. They take a yoga class. They tour temples and botanical gardens. However, they also obtain first-hand experiences with struggles faced by India’s poor. While it’s hard to know the long term impacts of these experiences, we collect data one year following the trip. Students report that their experiences in India have had a significant impact on “having conversations with colleagues about business’ role in addressing social issues,” “defending populations that have far less than others,” and “taking on a work responsibility related to a social issue that I might otherwise not have done.” It’s certain that sitting with a women’s self-help group hearing about members’ hopes for their children, or meeting with an NGO working to ensure the safety of children who are vulnerable to trafficking, impacts how students think about both their citizenship responsibilities as well as the responsibilities of leading firms.

What have been some of the challenges? 

The primary challenge with a study abroad of this nature is ensuring you recruit students who are open to the experience. We’re not studying Shakespeare in England. Students are exposed to really tough challenges and it’s not for everyone. However, effective recruiting and doing your best to provide a realistic preview of the trip helps ensure students who are energized by a trip like this and are therefore most likely to get the most out of the unique experience.

Successes?

When recruiting students, I always talk in depth about our visit to a rural Indian village. Organizing a tour of India isn’t terribly difficult. However, getting access to residents of small villages just couldn’t happen without being part of the connections through a study abroad.

I vividly remember one meeting in a cinderblock community center. Twenty of my students were sitting on rugs eating lunch with eight women in the village’s self-help group. The conversation meandered from community investments made by the women to the mechanics of running such a group. However, at one point questioning moved to more personal matters. A student asked, “What are your hopes for your children?” One by one, the women talked about career aspirations for their kids. Several wanted their children to become engineers. Others hoped their kids would become medical doctors. Others, teachers. Sadly, none hoped they’d become a professor! However, I could see the lightbulbs go off in my students’ heads. While we are worlds away, figuratively and literally, parents worldwide have very similar aspirations for the next generation.

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

I personally believe that having a partnership institution in the location of the study abroad is extremely helpful. One option is putting the trip together entirely on your own. However, the partnership I have with Christ University is indispensable. They organize all our site visits, line up transportation, identify restaurants, provide our housing, and organize cultural activities. I give them plenty of input on what has worked from previous trips and what has been less effective. Having them do the legwork frees me up to focus on my students’ learning.

What’s next for the initiative?

The first trip in 2014 integrated business students from Western Michigan University with social service-human development students from Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. Future trips will cross-list the class at WMU as both a business class and a social work class co-led by faculty from each. Both disciples study CSR but from their own unique perspectives. Bringing students from both disciplines affords an opportunity to leverage learning for our students because they can learn from each other.

 

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