I recently had the chance to speak with Pernille Kallehave, Head of Development at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Organizational Architecture and Consultant to the dean on sustainability issues at Aarhus University, Business and Social Sciences. Pernille is the organizer of a new contest called PRME LEADERS+20, which encourages faculty and student teams to submit innovative ideas on how to address sustainable development as part of management education courses and curricula at business schools and management-related university faculties.
1. Tell us a little bit about sustainability at Aarhus University.
Aarhus has been working since 2009 to implement PRME by integrating our strategic focus of Sustainable Growth through Innovation into research, education, knowledge exchange, operations, culture, etc. From the beginning, we chose an “integration” strategy, meaning that we did not establish a CSR or sustainability centre, but rather tried to integrate the sustainability perspective into our products and processes – a well known strategy in many companies and organisations.
The question is: How do you integrate such a perspective into classical programmes such as economics, law, communication, supply chain, marketing, organisational behaviour, etc.? It takes good incentives and deep understanding of what drives people to create impact and change the way they do things. For us, it all comes down to the four I’s: Incentives, Innovation, Integration and Impact. How can we create INCENTIVES to stimulate business school INNOVATION through the INTEGRATION of sustainability in programmes and curricula in a way that creates the biggest IMPACT? This is the challenge that we want to meet with the PRME LEADERS +20 competition.
2. What is PRME LEADERS+20?
We thought that the upcoming Rio+20 UN Conference provided the perfect opportunity for Aarhus to sponsor a contest that incentivises students and lecturers to collaborate in developing innovative ways to integrate sustainability issues into management education course and programme offerings. The competition will create both great ambassadors and valuable, up-to-date material. This is a bottom-up approach is supported fully by Aarhus Dean Svend Hylleberg.
3. What are the details?
Teams consisting of a lecturer and students are invited to either adapt an existing course or develop a new course with a focus on the 6 Principles of PRME as well as the themes of the Rio+20. Submissions are welcome from any program that educates future leaders and managers, including business schools, engineering, law and science, to name a few.
Submissions consist of a 3 page written entry and a 3 minute video entry, which will be judged first and foremost by their originality and creativity.
First place wins a trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to attend the PRME Global Forum and Global Compact Corporate Sustainability Forum. Second place wins a trip to Denmark to attend Aarhus summer university and visits to Maersk to learn about their sustainability activities and the world renowned Renewable Energy Island of Samso.
4. Who are the wide range of partners (academic, business, etc.) involved in this event?
Sustainable development requires new partnerships and cooperation across sectors and disciplines. Several businesses and public organisations are involved in the contest in a variety of different ways, from providing prizes to acting as judges and advisors. In addition to Aarhus University, Business and Social Sciences, PRME, and the Global Compact Office, t partners include Global Compact participant companies Maersk, China Minmetals Corporation, Vestas, Vale, and Novozymes, the Danish City of Aarhus, PRME Steering Committee members CEEMAN and GRLI, as well as Challenge:Future, Lead Africa, Mandagmorgen (Monday Morning) and Sustainia.
The PRME LEADERS+20 competition has also been invited to join the official Danish delegation to Rio+20. We see this as recognition of the important role that universities play in the development of the future leaders.
5. What impact are you hoping that this will have?
We are hoping to be surprised and inspired by a robust pool of innovative entries that motivate change across the responsible management education community. It would also be great to see these ideas implemented in the coming semesters.
The deadline for submission is Monday, 19 March 2012. For more information, visit http://prme-leaders20.au.dk/. To learn more about sustainability at Business and Social Sciences, Aarhus University, visit www.bss.au.dk or read their PRME report.