Measuring Impact – Looking Forwards with the 2018-2019 PRME Champions

ISAE Sustainability Report

Now that 2019 is past us, lets focus on 2020. To start off the year I asked the 2018-2019 PRME Champions 5 questions in relation to PRME and will be posting their answers throughout the week. The first post explored new initiatives, the second recommended resources and the third offered advice to signatories. Fourth, I asked them how they are you measuring impact when it comes to your organization’s contributions to the SDGs?

Suzanne Young, La Trobe Business School, Australia

In addition to mapping our research output against each of the 17 SDGs, we are working with the University’s sustainability department on their mapping of the SDGs across the whole university, including in our operations, student profile and wellbeing, staffing, energy and environmental impact. For example, La Trobe University will be Victoria’s first major university to become carbon neutral by 2029 and our regional campuses are set to become carbon neutral by 2022.  As part of the $75 million investment, the University is rolling out a number of projects to help reach the goal, including an LED lighting upgrade, investment in renewable energy, waste reduction, a new energy analytics program and regional solar carports.  This is all underpinned by a measurement and reporting framework that is tied to SDG indicators (particularly SDGs 7 and 13).

Rumina Dhalla, Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics, University of Guelph, Canada

We are looking at internal and external metrics for measuring performance. For example we measure, track and report on number of publications and citations, research funding obtained, and graduate students focusing on SDG related research. We look at the number of courses that are focused or include SDG content both in graduate and undergraduate programming as well as the number of faculty/graduate students involved in SDG research. We also look at student driven/faculty mentored co-curricular activities – clubs, conference, competitions, and faculty involvement.

Sheila Killian, Kemmy Business School, Ireland

We have a strength in the area of critical accounting in the School, so we are well aware of the perils of over-quantifying our metrics. We adopt a more narrative, story-telling approach, seeking to explore the real impact of what we do in dimensions that don’t always lend themselves to numerical measurement. We also use these narratives to promote activities within the school, to create role models and to valorise pioneers, helping to support the culture of sustainability and responsibility in the School. We find this more effective in our own context, in an Irish School, where story-telling makes sense. It may not work for everyone.

A good example would be the work of a colleague in the area of Work & Employment Studies, who took on a significant piece of research on the area of zero-hours contracts for the government. This lead to a practice-facing report that got a lot of traction in the media, as well as a series of academic outputs. The research also fed directly into teaching, and the lead researcher, Dr. Michelle O’Sullivan, was appointed to a government board to examine the area. Ultimately, this led to a change in the law in Ireland. So the impact of this work is multi-faceted, being academic, practice, policy, public, teaching and so on. Telling the story of how the work achieved such strong and wide-ranging impact is an effective way to model behaviour for other researchers, both within our School and elsewhere.

Jill Bogie – Hayley Pearson – Morris Mthombeni, Gordon Institute of Business Science, South Africa

At GIBS this is a new focus for 2020 and we have had an initial team meeting to decide on how to progress and we realise that it is a multi-year project involving the whole school. The brief from the Executive Committee is to ‘demonstrate social impact’ and that is our focus. 2020 is a great year to do focus on impact as it is the 20th anniversary of GIBS. Our next PRME SIP report is also due in September 2020 and we would like to use this opportunity to report on our progress so far. We do not have a specific plan yet but we do plan to build on reporting processes that already exist. Our first targets will most likely be for the period 2020 to 2025 and then 2030 to align with the South African National Development Plan – NDP2030. Part of our research has been to identify other schools and organisations already doing this.

Evgenia Pashkevich, IBS-Moscow, Russian Federation

We look at the number of courses where the SDGs are addressed, the number of publications on SDG-related topics across academic departments, and the number of  bachelor and master thesis on the topics related to SDGs.

Christian Hauser, University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons, Switzerland

One measure is the dissemination of our SDG-related research findings via the mass media. In 2019, one of our projects on whistleblowing was covered in more than 300 media reports in Switzerland and abroad (e.g., Germany, France, UK).

Gustavo Fructuozo Loiloa, ISAE/FGV, Brazil

On our Sustainability website we disclose what we are doing in relation to each SDG considered a priority for the institution. In addition, each year in our Sustainability Report, we present the connection of our initiatives to the SDGs, as well as the principles of PRME and the Global Compact. For the coming year, our goal is to build a strategy based on the targets of the goals in a more direct and specific way. 

Alex Hope, Newcastle Business School, United Kingdom

We are developing a record of all SDG related activity across the entire university and using this internally to measure impact and produce ‘impact case studies’ which are a requirement for government research funding. We have also developed a website to promote some of this activity and the impact that has resulted.

Carole Parkes, Winchester Business School, United Kingdom

Following up on whole institution Curriculum Audit on the Formal, Informal and Subliminal Curriculum with surveys, focus groups and interviews with students and alumni.

Sanchi Maheshwari, Hanken School of Economics, Finland

We use PRME SIP reporting as a tool to measure impact. We have some well-defined key performance indicators which we use, for example the number of publications related to SDGs and the number of courses on topics and themes related to sustainability. In addition, we have been using the SDG Dashboard to report and measure our progress on SDG integration. We are also a certified Green office and use WWF’s Green Office and Climate Calculator tool to track our year on year progress on our environmental impact.

Kutlwano Ramaboa, Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Honestly, we haven’t been very good at articulating our impact. We have only collected limited data so far but I am already blown away by how much information is already there. Our challenge will be to be able to bring all of this information together to better understand and then measure and articular our impact. This is a work in progress for us.

Paul Palmer, Cass Business School, United Kingdom

Be very careful about what is being promised and make sure you properly understand what is meant by impact, what can realistically be measured and consider the resources involved.




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