Introducing the Students’ Voice – PRME Global Students

Shruti Verma, Satoko Hagino, Jie Yang, Emjay M. Brizuela and Akshitha Menon / The future of inclusive responsible management education relies heavily on students. They are considered the most important stakeholders for business schools. The future will be made by students leading the sustainability space. Giving due importance to this factor, PRME launchedPRME Global Students (PGS), a student-run global movement. PGS aims to bring together ‘Change Makers’ from across the globe that collectively and collaboratively contribute to transforming the world into a better place. PGS is a global community formed by and for students, amplifying the voices of student organizations and nurturing the leaders of tomorrow for sustainable development and responsible management. As it continues to grow and spread geographically, collaboration is at the core of PGS, where collective goals are achieved and celebrated. Together, it’s a global force that connects like-minded students committed to creating real impact.

When we aim to make the world a better place, we must consider the largest section of society – the youth. In these modern times, where globalization is ever-transcending and technology is a part of our everyday lives – the youth is connected with the world more than ever. Today’s youth have the opportunity to interact with and learn from powerful people and organizations over the internet. The United Nations (UN) has acknowledged the significant role of youth in advancing the sustainable development goals. As active citizens of the world, the youth care for the environment, social responsibility, diversity, and inclusion, and fearlessly voice their opinions on social media and call for action. Youth activists like Greta Thunberg and Alexandria Villasenor shook the world expressing their concerns, mobilizing people, and demanding action and attention from leaders worldwide. Organizations such as the UNICEF promote youth involvement by calling for young leaders to participate in annual summits on global issues. Therefore, youth voices are being heard and reflected upon, on a global scale and must continue being heard to progress towards a responsible world.

Sustainability and sustainable development are critical issues today that impact any and every section of the society. Therefore, empowering students to discuss and brainstorm solutions to such global issues will increase awareness of the gravity of the situation and create an urgency for immediate action. Students have an influential position to lead a change movement within their respective communities as well as across countries. When students across the world join hands to advance the values of sustainability, we can witness a future of responsible citizens proactively managing global issues, taking purposeful action, and fearlessly working towards a peaceful and sustainable world. The 2020 World Youth Report also highlights the role of young people in the realm of sustainable development, particularly related to the implementation of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The report refers to youth as the ‘torchbearers’ of 2030 agenda and shares insights on their role in working with the local and national government and delivering policies and programmes on the ground.

Why do students need platforms such as the PRME Blog? We can think up multiple answers. First, students in charge of social activities can more effectively let people worldwide learn their thoughts with the tool. Some might take the view that students can share their ideas and practices through social media in this digital era. Still, social media have too fluid characteristics to retain good ones in prominent places, not only as a trend. Millions of users use the tool in their daily life –– some use it as a new form of a diary while others express opinions, sometimes aiming at the influence on politics and social issues. This variety of comments blurs keen suggestions made by activists, drifting them away from where thousands of people can catch them. The PRME Blog offers a reliable digital board on a global scale and allows for students from different organizations and geographically divided nations to collaborate. Student organizations can share and learn from other such organizations worldwide. Therefore, the Student Voice at the PRME Blog provides a credible platform that allows students, youth, and active protagonists to engage and freely discover various opinions and express their thoughts through comments. It connects the experience of elder professionals with that of the vibrance of youth.

To lead the development of the PGS network around the globe, PRME Secretariat established the PGS Regional Leaders team with nine student leaders from five continents. Together, the PGS Regional Leaders were able to map 312 operating student organizations within the global PRME community and actively engaged more than 40 of these in PGS’s programmatic development activities just within the span of six months. Divided into Research and Design Phases, the PGS Collaborative Development Process invited 65+ students from more than 25 countries to come together and co-create their own global network within PRME. During this year-long development process, a consensus was reached regarding the need for establishing action-oriented directions and a set of strategic projects that would enable networked global cooperation among PRME students, which ultimately could generate value for their student organizations on the ground. With this rationale in mind, the PGS participants established three PGS Fundamental Pillars – Awareness, Advocacy, and Collective Action – and collaboratively built the PGS Portfolio comprised of seven strategic projects: PGS Social Media (LinkedIn and Facebook), Student Voice at the PRME Blog, Journey 4 Impact, Careers Program, Student Ambassador Program, PGS Talks, and the PGS Newsletter (sign up here), leading to PGS Global Taskforces. This remarkable journey led to this first blog post by and from the PGS taskforce, which aims to bring the student voice to the forefront and inspire future student engagement in this space.

The Student Voice at the PRME Blog is a bi-monthly student voice column at the PRME Blog. Through this column, the PGS taskforce endeavours to create and magnify students’ voice and ensure that students be heard by stakeholders from various communities, including academics, policymakers, business institutions, regulators, etc. The PGS Student Voice at the PRME blog taskforce comprises of five student-leaders from around the world with a desire to contribute to sustainable development. These students are pursuing varied degrees at different levels, from bachelor’s to PhD, yet have one shared goal of making a positive difference for the world, environment, and the society. Each of them has their own stories to tell, motivations to share, and passion for contributing to the success of this movement. In their words, PGS is “a movement that connects student leaders to bring change”, “a source of inspiration”, “serves the needs and aspirations of students and youth for a sustainable future” and “a great manifestation of global impact”. Their prior experience working with regional UN organizations, student leadership roles, and creativity and innovation skills significantly contribute to the taskforce.

Together, these five student-leaders will use empathy and rational analysis to advocate and integrate students’ voices in relation to sustainable development and inspire further collaboration among readers and other stakeholders. Students empower and create dominant value for student organizations around the world by harnessing their interests, fostering connections, and acting as witnesses and participants in an ever-changing society. We need the opportunity to stand on the world stage, constantly think creatively, explore, and convey our views on the world. We live on the same planet and all breathe the same air. We have similar experiences and our puzzle parallels. We have emotional intelligence and individual voices. Focusing on diverse voices from students in the field of sustainability, with empathy, sincerity and efficiency, we gather from all over the world to create a platform that advances creative and rewarding cooperation, delight resonance, and productive interflow. Considering the three action-oriented pillars of Awareness, Advocacy, and Collective Action, we share the puzzle as well as achievements during our own experiences of being members of student associations, gather the differences and similarities from them, address the issues, and find the approach to the best solutions. We beacon this journey with great zeal and collaboration from all the members of our global taskforce. Giving voice to the future, we will be bringing new ideas on sustainability from the lens of students in the upcoming blogs and cannot wait for you to read, comment, and share your thoughts with us!

Shruti Verma studies at Deakin University, Australia; Satoko Hagino studies at The University of Tokyo, Japan;  Jie Yang (Ryla) studies at Zhejiang University, China; Emjay M. Brizuela studies at the University of St. Lasalle, Philippines; Akshitha Menon studies at Deakin University, Australia.

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