This post is the second part of the end of year review. Click here to read part 1.
By March 2020, everything changed very quickly as COVID-19 took over our lives. In response, I posted a summary of past posts to help schools looking to adapt quickly to the new COVID-19 reality including posts on mental health, innovative teaching methods, online courses and creative partnerships. This also included a list of resources to support COVID-19 responses from universities and the business sector. Throughout March and April, PRiMEtime hosted a regularly updated, list of ways business schools were responding to COVID-19. For those students and staff stuck in lockdown, a list of 110 (updated to 119) sustainability documentaries to watch was shared, covering a range of topics from different perspectives, some well balanced, others quite controversial, but all with an important message. In an attempt to continue to help support readers to not just survive but thrive while working at home during these extended lockdowns, I shared some of my personal tips. Inspired by the Australia/New Zealand Chapter virtual get together, I asked several signatories to share with me their view from their home office. As Jade Kennedy, the University of Wollongong’s local Aboriginal knowledge holder put it “Looking out our window enables us to come together when we can’t physically be together.”
Most PRiMEtime posts from this point onwards included insights on how different schools were responding to, and adapting their programmes, to COVID-19. One example was a post on how CUOA Business School in Northern Italy responded to COVID 19. They were hit early on by the pandemic and didn’t have the benefit of learning from how other schools had responded.
Quickly, the PRME community shifted the way they worked to ensure that their work continued. One important example was the feature on the Responsible Management Education Research Conference, this year in its 7th iteration and hosted by the University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons in Switzerland. This event, which went ahead virtually this year, regularly brings together the Responsible Management Education research community. The PRME Anti-Poverty Working Group, active since 2008 and boasting 200 members from over 170 institutions in more than 60 countries, outlined the past, present and future of this working group including insights and resources on how to engage not just with the working group, but on the topic of poverty within your university or course. The Business for Peace Working Group shared their activities and why business schools should be interested in peace. The 3rd PRME Champion Cycle developed and launched a guidance document to support business schools in contributing and achieving the SDGs called the SDG Blueprint for SDG Integration which was highlighted in June. This resource provides a practical guide, concepts and frameworks to support business schools as they integrate the SDGs into their curricula, research and partnerships.
A few schools shared their general approach to embedding sustainability, and in particular the SDGs, into their business school. Gordon Institute of Business Sciences in South Africa shared how they are embedding the SDGs into their curriculum and research. George Mason University’s School of Business’s Business for a Better World Center shared their ambitious plan to educate future leaders, bring together current leaders, generate and exchange knowledge, effect change and lead a movement to reshape business education. They also shared one specific example of an interdisciplinary platform they created to address the SDGs focused around honey which I recommend you read. Founding former dean Julia Christensen Hughes shared some reflections on her 10-year journey at Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics and the school’s commitment to sustainability.
Surprisingly few schools report on how they are engaging in the SDGs as a campus and SDG 15 (Life on Land), especially as it related to a business school’s own campus and operations, is very rarely brought up. However, I found several schools that are protecting, and celebrating biodiversity on campus through tree planting, the re-introduction of native plant species, conducting species inventories or even becoming or being located on protected reserves. These were featured in one post.
Given the number of questions I receive relating to the SHARING INFORMATION ON PROGRESS reports, this year PRiMEtime once again featured some insights on how schools are reporting. A special feature on reporting during the month of October started with a look at some insights on what the SIPs submitted between May 1st2017 and May 1st 2020 looked like. Queen’s Management School, which was recognised at the PRME Virtual Global Forum in the category of first time report, shared their experiences integrating the SDGs into their first SIP report. Deakin Business School, recipient of the Recognition for Excellence in Reporting at PRME’s Virtual Global Forum shared how they reported not just on the Principles but also the impact, both direct and indirect, that the school has had on each of the SDGs. Copenhagen Business School, another recipient of the Recognition for Excellence in Reporting, shared their approach to reporting and highlighted the parts they are most proud of. Hanken School of Economics celebrated 10 years of responsible management education with their report including highlights from the past decade and their goals moving forwards. The special feature also looked at different approaches to reporting, including the SDG Dashboard and an initiative developed by a group of Signatories in Latin America, led by ISAE-FGV and Universidad Externado de Colombia, to develop a system of indicators that offers a way to prioritize and report on a schools most significant contributions to the SDGs. I then asked Signatories to share their thoughts on what the SIP of the Future will look like as well as 6 things that will be highlighted more in the SIP of the future. Another post in November highlighted examples of how signatories are engaging stakeholders in their work using data visualisation.
One of my favourite posts of the year was also one of the last. It highlighted how Gustavson School of Business is integrating sustainability into the Finance curriculum, and why this is so important. While currently few schools share specific examples of how they are integrating sustainability in particular subjects, my hope is that in 2021 schools will share this information more, for the benefit of all.
It is crucial that we never forget the significant impact that all of our work has on countless individuals, students, alumni, businesses and issues locally and further afield, every single day. As I have noted many times before, while our role may sometimes be underappreciated by the global community, we should never underestimate our impact.
If you want some more inspiration, be sure to re read the first series of posts from 2019 with 100 tips from Signatories on engaging in PRME with tips on why and what to focus on (part 1), getting started, designing your initiative, moving forwards (part 2), putting together a team, the importance of developing relationships (part 3), focus on faculty, focus on students, the importance of partnerships (part 4), and funding and final words of advice (part 5).
Again, thank you for reading and contributing and thank you for inspiring me with your ongoing work. I have been following so many of you now for many years and am proud to be a part of this international family, more now than ever. I’m excited to see what 2021 will bring.