How do you engage students? Obviously, most of what we do every day in our institutions is focused on engaging students in these topics. But by this I don’t just mean through events and clubs or even through the curriculum. How do you engage students as partners in sustainability at a business school? It is surprising how few schools report on how they engage their students in PRME related activities on campus. Over the past 2 years less than 20% of schools have reported (through their SIPs) on activities that engage students as partners and, of those, only a few have clearly presented programmes to do so.
If you aren’t engaging your students in meaningful ways in your work embedding PRME and the SDGs into your campus and operations, you are missing out on a willing and innovative resource. Here are a few examples from Signatories.
In the Classroom
The Recycling Continuous Improvement Initiative at the University of San Diego School of Business Administration, is a student-led initiative. Through a business class project, students measure recycling rates on campus, improving the rate through operational adjustments, and marketing campaigns for all university community members to recycle smarter. At Hanken School of Economics in Finland students enrolled in a finance course were involved in determining the viability of investing in solar panels on campus and preparing a business plan.
At Copenhagen Business School, students are invited to become Sustainability Influencers, an initiative co-created by Student & Innovation House and CBS PRME. In line with Global Goals 17, the ambition is for the Influencers to enter into partnerships with actors who can strengthen the initiative and interest more students in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as inspiring them and preparing them to become change agents in sustainable transformation. The Sustainability Influencers have already entered into partnerships with Impactful Jobs, Global Compact Network Denmark, Sustainable Now, SustainBase, SIVIL, Nordic Sustainability and SDG Ambassadors Copenhagen.
Using Your Campus as a Laboratory
In 2017, Weatherhead School of Management MBA students co-founded the university-level Graduate Student Sustainability Council (GSSC). Current projects include promoting sustainable investment practices, recommending improvements to the campus’ energy mix and cutting down on plastic waste. The GSSC is open to all persons associated with the University but is primarily a graduate and professional student organization. Another council, the Student Sustainability Council (SSC) is made up of undergraduate students. The Office for Sustainability also employs 16 undergraduate Sustainability Ambassadors, four green lab auditors and one graduate assistant. Sustainability Ambassadors are trained in the sustainability projects and programs on campus, as well as a diverse set of sustainability issues and topics.
Students at Koc University in Turkey are using their campus as a lab through a student initiative called MSCOP. Launched in 2017, MSCOP continues to improve sustainable campus design and operations by partnering with Koç University Campus Operations and Facilities Directorate, the Office of International Programs, KUSIF and Siemens Turkey. Projects are introduced to encourage students and the wider university community to adopt sustainability practices and combines the University’s academic and research abilities with skills and experiences found at Siemens. In 2018 MSCOP launched a partnership and networking program which concluded with an awards ceremony and presentations. The winner was a project called Green Brains for their project which made cartridges for 3D printers using food waste. The project has a pending patent. Other initiatives recognized at the awards included a smart classroom, an app to minimize campus parking problems and a project to produce electricity in high foot-traffic areas using kinetic motion.
Students at Turku School of Economics started a campaign called Choose your Future that aims to challenge extremism, in particular through social media. What started as an assignment in a Strategic Brand Management Course ended up with 49 students developing a mobile app called About Turku. The app helps to ease the integration process of the arriving asylum seekers by providing relevant information about neighbouring areas in their native language. Over the past few years Finland, a country with only 5.5 million citizens and unaccustomed to mass immigration, received over 30,000 asylum applications. The idea was to give the asylum seekers a feeling of being welcome and to show them that the Finnish people care. This project won first prize in the International Facebook Global Digital Challenge Competition. The students also founded a Facebook community where the local residents as well as the asylum seekers could communicate and learn more about each other’s cultures. The highly successful campaign is currently continuing its legacy as a company, founded by a team of six students who participated in the Brand Management course.
How are you engaging your students in implementing PRME on campus?