The SDGs at the University of Wollongong

Students at the University of Wollongong

In a past post I had the chance to speak with Belinda Gibbons, the coordinator of the Australia and New Zealand Chapter, about the Chapters transition from an Emerging to an Established Chapter as well as the specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are most pertinent to that region. I also had the chance to speak to Belinda about her other role, that of  coordinator of PRME activities at the University of Wollongong in Australia about what her University has planned around the SDGs.

How is the University of Wollongong approaching responsible management education?

While I am the AUSNZ PRME Chapter Coordinator, I also coordinate the responsible management education practices within the Faculty of Business at the University of Wollongong (UOW) where I am a senior lecturer for the Sydney Business School. A PRME signatory since 2009, the UOW Faculty of Business executive have always demonstrated significant support for responsible and sustainable education in curriculum and research. More recently we have modified our vision to directly focus on being a ‘ global leader in promoting the theory and practice of responsible business principles’. Backed by our mission ‘…….to promote responsible leadership and sustainable business practice, and contribute to a stronger economy and a more just society’. This change ensures that the key areas of responsible management are at the forefront of all decisions, actions and discussions.

How is the University integrating the SDGs?

While we have interdisciplinary subjects that are built upon the theoretical foundation of the UN Global Compact (UNGC) and map PRME and SDG education research across disciplines, some of the smaller initiatives at Wollongong are having a large-scale difference. Examples of these include; a PRME representative seat on the Faculty Education Committee to ensure responsible management is in all curriculum and assessment changes; PRME representation in all course reviews with the latest course reviews in 2016 ensuring responsible management in undergraduate and postgraduate course learning outcomes and assurance of learning practices; academic and professional staff hiring job descriptions now have responsible leadership and sustainable business practices in position descriptions alongside grant funding applications must show how they contribute and provide impact to the mission and particular SDGs.

What are some of your challenges moving forward?

The challenge moving forward is to instil the SDGs into the fabric of the University and not just the Business Faculty. More recently UOW signed as a member of the UNGC. This institution membership provides a path for SDG discussions beyond the Faculty of Business. Evidence of this occurred in November 2017 when UOW collaborated with Healthy Cities Illawarra and PRME Champion School LaTrobe Business School to bring together delegates from business, local government, education, not for profit and community sectors to discuss what the SDGs mean for them, and create opportunities for collaboration among the sectors towards implementation of the goals. A workshop was held as a breakfast event, with an impressive turnout of 120 attendees.

It is also important that we extend our collaborations across institutions internationally. Throughout 2016, Wollongong took part in the global WikiRate Student Engagement Trial. This trial enabled us to discuss processes and outcomes with a number of international PRME signatories and we volunteered to conduct an external review and research piece on the perspectives of different participants involved in the project. This research has generated insights that are feeding into the next phase of the project, and that help to ensure students, professors and their institutions are getting the best experience and learning.

Any tips for other schools looking to engage in the SDGs?

Senior leadership support and a culture whereby creativity and the ability to experiment is essential to deliver the change in higher education that is required to realise the SDGs.

 

Learn more about Wollongong engagement in PRME…

In their 2017 Sharing Information on Progress Report, UOW provides a chart that represents the Faculty of Business’ research grouped by Sustainable Development Goal. This was featured in a past PRiMEtime post on Reporting on the SDGs- A Visual Tour of Different Approaches. In 2016 UOW’s involvement in the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience was also featured. AIME is an Australia wide educational programme that supports indigenous students through high school and into University by pairing these students with mentor students form the Business School. Back in 2015 we spoke to Belinda about their experiences merging two approaches to responsible management education when the University of Wollongong merged with another Business School in 2013. 

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