Number 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is perhaps the most important, but also the most challenging. The ability of Management Education to successfully engage and help reach the SDGs will require a range of partnerships not only between schools and external organizations such as business and government but more importantly among schools themselves. Schools across a particular region can work together to coordinate research, efforts, teaching and work together to focus on the SDGs from a regional context and ensure that next generation of organizational leaders do so as well.
In response to this, the schools that make up the PRME Chapter Nordic which are schools from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have collaborated to create a new Ph.D. course that engages students from the different schools on sustainability and CSR. I spoke with Elizabeth Barratt from Stockholm School of Economics to learn more about this new programme.
Introduce the PRME Chapter Nordic Ph.D. course and how it came about.
The participating schools of the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) Chapter Nordic, which consists of schools from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, decided to establish a common PRME Chapter Nordic Ph.D. course on sustainability and CSR.
This new programme aims to help translate and implement sustainability and CSR in the local context as well as leverage the strength of the existing UN Global Compact Nordic Network. As a Chapter, we are focused on integrating sustainability thinking into management education at Nordic business schools and providing platforms for collaboration and sharing experiences. Creating such a course aims to increase awareness of these issues in the region for future generations of students. The course also aims to facilitate and support research networks among doctoral students themselves and among faculty in the Nordic Universities who are focused on sustainability and to deepen and expand cooperation across the region.
This course is called “CSR and sustainability in the Nordic context” and 19 Ph.D. students from across the region are participating. The course is divided into three modules arranged at different schools in the region beginning with Stockholm School of Economics (September 2016), BI Norwegian Business School (February 2017) and Hanken School of Economics (April 2017).
What are the key features of the programme and how does it work?
Module 1: In September 2016, the Mistra Center for Sustainable Markets (Misum) at the Stockholm School of Economics hosted the first module. Here students mapped the sustainability research field and then discussed research issues in sustainable production and consumption, on a Nordic model for sustainable finance and on urban sustainability. Students were then paired off to work on research papers.
Module 2: The next module entitled “Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Sustainability” is taking place at the BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo in February 2017. There will be a discussion on theoretical perspectives on innovation and entrepreneurship for sustainability, the green transition of the Norwegian economy and whether finance can be ethical. There will be presentations relating to the Norwegian petroleum industry and Oslo city’s green transition programme, and student presentations.
Module 3: The final module of the Ph.D. course will be at the Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki in April 2017 in conjunction with a CR+ conference where the students will have the possibility to present their papers.
What are you hoping will come of this new programme?
The Chapter Nordic hopes to create a stronger network and build greater cooperation between students and faculty in the different schools around sustainability research, as well as to increase and share knowledge of CSR and sustainability – particularly in the Nordic region.
What have been some of the challenges and successes?
Our biggest challenge has been coordinating doctoral programme requirements at the different hosting schools. Finding financing for the travel expenses for Ph.D. students has also been a challenge. Although the programme has just started, we are already seeing increased co-operation and communication between business school staff in the Nordic region around the teaching of sustainability and CSR, Ph.D. students at the different schools are getting to know each other, learning about sustainability issues in the different countries, and co-operating on research projects over the 9 months of the course. We are also looking forward to the presentation of the co-written research papers at the CR3 conference in Hanken in April.
What advice would you have for other schools thinking of putting something similar into place?
Early planning along with close collaboration among hosting schools is key. A challenge is to ensure that each hosting school can draw on their unique research competence at the same time make sure that the sum of the parts builds a whole.
What is next for the initiative?
At the end of the current course (9 months), we will be assessing the impact and usefulness of the joint Ph.D. course; looking at what resources we have and can get access to we will decide whether to continue it on a regular basis every two years.