Engaging Secondary Students in Responsible Management and Sustainability

Hong Kong Baptist University
Hong Kong Baptist University

Universities don’t just engage their own students in responsible management and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They are also engaging their potential future students; secondary school students. Continuing on from last weeks celebration of International Youth Day, here are a selection of ways that Signatories are engaging with younger students on sustainability issues.

Providing Equal Opportunity

At TIAS School for Business and Society in the Netherlands, brief traineeships are offered to secondary education and vocational training students in order to give them a wider scope about future jobs and how good education can provide a better future. These traineeships are organized in collaboration with JINC, an NGO that strives for a society in which a child’s background does not determine a child’s future.

In the US, IRL School Cornell University organises the NYC Promise, a research project focused on 2,000 families in New York State with 14-16 year old teens who receive Supplemental Social Security income (SSI). The goal of the NYS PROMISE project is to explore the best ways to help kids with disabilities receiving SSI successfully transition from high school to adulthood.

Also in the US, the College of Business Administration Kent State University’s Upward Bound Summer Institute Programme is a five week programme aimed at giving first generation, low-income high school students an opportunity to gain college experience. Students participated in business classes that prepared them for a final project: creating a business plan. One of the courses focused on sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Students were asked to identify which SDGs their business could help achieve and presented the goal that was most meaningful to them.

In Brazil, PRME Champion Fundacao Dom Cabral invests approximately 50% of its social investments in the Fundação José Fernandes de Araújo. This foundation aims to assist the education and training of disadvantaged youth. In 2016, 270 young people and children were supported by FJFA.

Across Australia, several schools including the University of Wollongong Faculty of Business, are part of the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience, an educational programme that supports Indigenous students through high school and into university, employment or further education. Current business school students volunteer to participate as mentors to Indigenous youth in year 12 as a way of learning from each other.

Raising Awareness

In Canada, the Laurier’s International Education Week at Lazaridis School of Business includes a daylong youth conference on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The youth training sessions were one of 50 about the SDGs being led at post-secondary institutions across Canada by Foundation for Environmental Stewardship (FES), a youth-led, youth- serving sustainable development organization.

In Lebanon, the University of Beirut regularly organises Sustainable Minds: a nation-wide competition in which secondary school students in grade 10 create a short video demonstrating their understating of the 17 SDGS. This is done in collaboration with the Global Compact network in Lebanon and featured at a wider event that consists of a series of panels highlighting practical examples of efforts and partnerships between the private sector and the NGOs around the SDGs.

In Italy, Ca’Foscari University of Venice organized the Kids University Venice. Over 5 days, nearly 900 school children and young teenagers from primary and secondary school come together on campus to take part in workshops and interactive lectures on the topics of sustainability held by Ca’ Foscari scholars and experts. The initiative was part of the Sustainable Development Festival, promoted by the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASviS).

In October 2019, JAMK University of Applied Sciences in Finland will be launching a new game: Young New Horizons. This is based on a student project formed to respond to the refugee crisis in Finland but has grown to include ongoing efforts to increase dialogue and understanding between different groups and cultures. The card game focuses on topics of interest and concern to teenagers and young adults (14 to 25). The content for this project was developed by JAMK students in collaboration with high school students across Finland.

Hong Kong Baptist University School of Business’ Department of Marketing launched the Jockey Club Responsible Consumption Programme, a three-year community project supported by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust with a HK$8.22 million donation. The Programme is made up of three major projects – a secondary school marketing contest, a TV education programme and a research project to establish a validated measure of the social impact of responsible consumption. It aims at raising the awareness of responsible consumption in Hong Kong and especially among young people and is a collaboration between several different groups and businesses.

Identifying New Opportunities

At Newcastle Business School in Australia has been running the Business Plan Challenge for students in Year 11 for the past 15 years. It has grown from 35 submissions in its inaugural year to over 545 participating students submitting over 385 business plans from across the state in 2018. The University of Newcastle views this competition as an important tool to encourage students from both private and public school sectors, to explore the interesting opportunities that await them in the business world. In 2018, in line with the school’s commitment to PRME, students were also asked to consider ethical and/or sustainability issues in their submissions. The winning plan – ‘Building Blocks’ – focused on transforming recycled plastic waste into an advanced, durable and tough building material with a mission to advance sustainability and eco-friendly living in the building and construction industry.

Finally in Germany, Ingolstadt School of Management is involved in the YES! Young Economic Summit, a nationwide school competition that engages students in grades 10 to 12, in close cooperation with renown researchers, to develop their own solutions for regional and global challenges in the economy, society, politics and environment. They then have the chance to present their ideas at regional conferences and discuss them with experts from the fields of business, politics, academics and international institutions. For example, one student team developed “My2tor” where high school pupils act as tutors for primary school pupils who are disadvantaged by their family circumstances.


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