Engaging Stakeholders Through Data Visualisation – 8 Examples from the PRME Community

The official logo for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with its clear numbers, to the point text, simple logos and unique colours, does a much better job at quickly and clearly communicating the 17 Goals to a range of audiences than the official, 35-page UN document from which they come does. Since the SDGs came into place, the Sharing Information on Progress reports (SIPs) have never been so colourful. Many now include the SDG logos throughout. While a good report doesn’t necessarily need strong visuals to communicate a point (in fact, 40% of SIP submitted throughout 2018-2019 had no formatting), transforming data into an engaging visual can speak to your reader in ways text alone cannot always do. Here are eight visuals taken from recent Sharing Information on Progress Reports (SIPs) showing how data collected from mapping exercises can be transformed into engaging visuals that have the potential to inform and inspire your audiences. 

The School of Business, Economics and Law at University of Gothenburg (2020 report) in Sweden conducted a mapping exercise in order to better understand where its current research interests lie in relation to the SDGs.  This was based on a self-assessment that has formed the basis for a relative comparison within departments and units. Strong research indicates that research relevant to the SDGs has a particularly strong position at the department, substantial indicates that several researchers conduct relevant research, and some research indicates that one or fewer conduct research in respect to that goal.  

In order to find the best possible alignment between its mission, the work of its academic faculty and its national and continental context and positioning, the University of Stellenbosch Business School in South Africa grouped the SDGs into seven thematic clusters as seen in this visual included in their 2018 report. It notes that since a business school does not specialise in a particular field but instead is an interdisciplinary institution, it is important that management education “ build leadership capabilities for managers and professionals from all walks of life”. The results of their 2018 SDG mapping exercise are also included in their report. 

FEA-RP, Universidad de Sao Paulo in Brazil (2019 report) presents quite a bit of its data in visual form. Given the importance of student engagement in the SDGs, a questionnaire was sent to the whole community in which respondents were asked to associate the SDGs with the most similar student entities of that specific theme.  The results for several student organisations, including AIESEC (above), are presented in the report. 

FEA-RP’s report also presents maps of articles published in scientific journals organised by relevant SDG. Similar maps were made for master’s dissertations and doctoral thesis, for undergraduate works and for participation in academic events. All show that there is a strong connection within the university’s research community with SDG 16, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

While there are many ways in which Monash Business School in Australia is engaging in the SDGs, it outlines some of the most important and prominent ways on this one page in their 2018 report. Several other schools take a similar approach of highlighting one or two particularly impactful research projects that connect with each of the 17 SDGs, for example Kemmy Business School

KU Leuven Faculty of Economics and Business included a materiality index within their report. This categorizes issues based on their ascending relevance to stakeholders (based on engagement activities) and the organization (based on the School’s vision, mission, values and strategy). This exercise is conducted as part of the school’s commitment to reporting in accordance with the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). 

In their 2019 report, Charles Sturt University School of Management & Marketing in Australia presented this visual overview of how they are embedding PRME into their operations. The report provides data that show their progress towards goals relating to operations but also research, teaching, strategy and partnerships. This includes 2016 baseline ratings and 2017 and 2018 progress towards best practice.

Last, but not least, one cannot discount the power of a blank page with the word ‘Notes’ at the top as a tool to brainstorm and write out next steps after reading through your school’s SIP report. This one is courtesy of the 2019 report from Queen’s Management School at Queen’s University Belfast in the United Kingdom.

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