A Focus on Australia/New Zealand

This past December the Australia and New Zealand Chapter, officially transitioned from an Emerging to an Established Chapter, cementing their commitment to realising the Sustainable Development Goals through responsible management education. Although they only just became an Established Chapter, the region has always had a very active PRME Signatory base, a group of schools that are not only active within the PRME network, but also actively engaged in pushing the agenda forward with a range of innovative approaches. Because of this, schools from this region are regularly featured on PRiMEtime.

The month of February will be focused on sharing examples of good practices around embedding the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into management education from schools across Australia and New Zealand. To kick things off, I spoke with Belinda Gibbons, the coordinator of the Chapter as well as the coordinator of PRME activities at the University of Wollongong in Australia about both the challenges and opportunities for the region as a whole.

Tell us a bit more about the Australia/New Zealand Chapter.

Schools in this region have been active in PRME since 2008. Currently 53% of universities in Australia and 75% in NZ are PRME signatories with a growth rate of approximately 2-3 signatories per year. Amidst vast land distances between signatories (there is a five hour time difference between our Schools), PRME members communicate on bi-monthly conference calls, virtual state based gatherings and via more formal annual forums and regular emails.

The work and in particular the courses that schools in this region offer have an important impact both here and abroad because education is Australia’s largest service export and New Zealand’s second largest. Recent statistics reveal that of all Australian higher education courses completed in 2016, the field of management and commerce accounts for 19% for domestic students and 55% for our international students. New Zealand has similar high statistics with 27% of students studying management and commerce courses. Of that 1 in 5 are international students. These large numbers and percentage of diverse cultures offers us rich exploration for teaching and learning but also numerous challenges in the way to tackle all 17 SDGs in the curriculum, research and partnerships.

You officially became an Established Chapter at your most recent Regional Meeting. Tell us a bit about it.

The 5th PRME Chapter Australia & New Zealand Forum took place at Deakin University, a PRME Champion School, in Melbourne early in December 2017. The theme of the meeting was ‘Inspire, Motivate, Engage, Act’ in regards to realising the Sustainable Development Goals. Over the course of the day we went through the different elements of the theme. We started by celebrating and sharing the growth we have had as a region over the past 10 years, congratulating Latrobe Business School and Griffith Business School in Australia and University of Waikato Management School in New Zealand who were among the first to sign as PRME Signatories.  We also signed the MOU with the PRME Secretariat, officially becoming an Established Chapter. Each school had a chance to present their achievements from 2017 and hopes for 2018 and to share key resources and opportunities. We also had a number individuals join us for parts of the day including Alice Cope, the Executive Director of UN Global Compact Australia, Anne Swear who is the Head of Corporate Sustainability at ANZ, Sue Noble the CEO of Volunteering Victoria, Giselle Weybrecht who is a Special Advisor to the PRME Secretariat, Sarah Goulding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Soyuma Gupta, a current student at Deakin. The discussions were focused on how Australia is moving forward with the SDGs and how the schools that form the chapter can be part of those discussions and actions moving forward. For a full summary of the meeting click here.

What are some of the challenges that schools in this part of the world are facing and some issues that are particularly relevant in relation to the SDG?

While our research stimulates innovation and delivers solutions to economic, social and demographic challenges facing our nations we need to work closer with industry and government to support SDGs realisation. Our textbook and classroom cases can be routine in using global examples, which are informative, but the challenge is to bring an understanding of the SDGs back to illustrations from our countries, enabling our students and academics to understand just how global these goals are.

An example of this in particular pertains to human rights. In the latest Amnesty International 2016-2017 report, Australia’s commitment to human rights fails when it comes to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, especially children abuse and deaths in custody (SDG 10.2, 16.2). Asylum seeking processes and procedures (SDG 1.4, 10.7), disability rights (SDG 1.2, 10.2) and counter-terror measures (SDG 10.3), all of which put us on the Human Rights Watch List for the third successive year in 2016. New Zealand has similar Indigenous Maori challenges along with high rates of violence against women and girls (SDG 5.1, 5.2) and children poverty rates (SDG 1.2). Ensuring these issues are communicated and mapped across all disciplines in the management and commerce field requires raising awareness, conducting audit type processes alongside developing a mechanism for resource sharing.

What’s planned for the chapter moving forward?

The SDGs provide us with a framework for industry, civil society and government collaboration. In Australia, the Voluntary National Review (VNR) on SDG progress is underway with the report due mid-2018. It is essential that the higher education sector and in particular PRME AUSNZ contribute to this report and continue to build relationships for future research.

As an Established Chapter, we are forming a steering committee that will focus on the priority areas of student engagement activities and embedding SDGs in the curriculum, building communities of practices within Faculty and across university/universities, mapping SDGs across curriculum and research and research and cross sector collaboration.

Sustainable Business Examples from Around the World – Italy, Australia, and New Zealand



As businesses become more and more engaged in sustainability around the world, we are presented with an increasing range of examples of active companies. However, when I speak with students and faculty, they say that they often hear about the same examples from the same international companies over and over again.

In an attempt to share some new best practice examples, I asked a handful of faculty members from around the world about their favourite classroom examples of local companies that are actively involved in sustainability. Here are some examples from Italy, Australia, and New Zealand.

Manuela Brusoni and Veronica Vecchi, SDA Bocconi School of Management, Italy

Consumer banking sector Intesa Sanpaolo: Within the Intesa Sanpaolo Group, Banca Prossima is the bank with the mission of serving non-profit organisations, with a specific service model, products and consulting services dedicated to this type of customers. The Bank has developed a rating model for social businesses that integrates the traditional methods of bank analysis with elements peculiar to the third sector, such as the ability in fundraising. Furthermore, Banca Prossima launched in 2011 “Terzo Valore”, a crowdfunding portal which allows anyone to lend or donate money to non-profit organisation projects directly, without intermediaries and with principal repayment guaranteed by the Bank.

Food sector Barilla: Barilla is the top quality and leading pasta producer in the world, which promotes the mediterranean diet as the best and healthiest solution for the people and the planet. Barilla founded the Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) to informs not only policy makers and insiders of the agri-food chain, but all the people on the big topics linked to food and nutrition with regards to climate change and the world’s paradoxes. Barilla has been considered the most sustainable pasta supplier by the “Sustainability Index Programme” of Walmart.

Fashion Brunello Cucinelli: The core mission of the company is based on a contemporary form of humanism that over the years the international press has identified as a “humanistic” capitalism, where profit can be sought without damaging mankind. Its clients view Brunello Cucinelli as an expression of a sophisticated concept of contemporary lifestyle and the brand is firmly rooted in quality excellence, Italian craftsmanship and creativity; these pillars are considered the foundations on which sustainable growth can be built in the long run.

Learn more about how SDA Bocconi is engaging students in impact investing.

Suzanne Young, La Trobe Business School, Australia

Yarra Valley Water which has mapped their practices against the SDGs based on understanding what issues the organisation can influence.. These included clean water and sanitation, industry innovation and infrastructure and gender equality.

As another example, the National Australia Bank has a focus on working towards a more inclusive society, including financial inclusion. They are using the SDGs as a way to mobilise innovation to drive business and societal success. The Bank is supporting agribusiness customers to value natural capital for instance. The SDG of Decent Work and Economic Growth and No Poverty provide a lens for their work, especially in impact investing.

Learn more about La Trobe’s participation in the CR3+ Network.

Christian Schott, Victoria Business School, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

The youth hostel association of NZ is one of the largest accommodation providers for budget conscious travellers in NZ and have set sustainability as a guiding principle for the entire organisation.  Their efforts to integrate economic, environmental and social sustainability have been exemplary and they are willing to take calculated risks to trial new or innovative ideas that have the potential to enhance their sustainability ambitions.  I have been working closely with YHA Wellington which is an exemplar of the broader YHA NZ network.

Whale Watch Kaikoura An inspirational Maori owned and Maori operated tourism business that carefully balances the need for environmental and economic sustainability with a strong commitment to social and cultural sustainability. Both Maori cultural interpretation and environmental protection are core principles of this whale watching business.

Learn more about how Christian Schott is bringing technology into the classroom to teach sustainability.


Indigenous Business Examples from New Zealand and Australia

Gilimbaa: “Our History. Our Story. Our Future” Reconciliation Australia Animation from Gilimbaa.

As businesses become more and more engaged in sustainability around the world, we are presented with an increasing range of examples of active companies. However, when I speak with students and faculty, they say that they often hear about the same examples from the same international companies over and over again.

In an attempt to share some new best practice examples, and continuing with June’s focus on Indigenous programmes, I asked a handful of faculty members about their favourite classroom examples of local companies that were started by Indigenous entrepreneurs as well as companies working with Indigenous communities. To finish off our month focusing on Indigenous business, here are some examples from Australia and New Zealand.

Rebecca Harcourt, Programme Manager, Indigenous Business Education, University of New South Wales Business School, Australia

Gilimbaa fuses many of the riches and celebrations embedded within Indigenous knowledge-storytelling within contemporary cultural practices- with exemplary graphic design and communications to bring all this to the global stage, such as exemplified in Queensland in 2014 when world international leaders, including President Barak Obama, gathered here for the G20.

Inside Policy is a group of exceptional and experienced female entrepreneurs who create innovative approaches to provide solutions to complex problems.

The team at 33 Creative delivers media communications and various associated projects with excellence, vibrancy and self-determination. Their approach helps drive transformation to empower & improve many of the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Read more about Indigenous engagement at the University of New South Wales.

Barry Coates, Sustainability Programme Development, University of Auckland Business School, New Zealand

Ngai Tahu Holdings is an intergenerational and Aotearoa New Zealand-focused investor that operates as an investor, asset owner and active manager of enterprises. At its heart, Ngai Tahu is a values-based business that relies on its people and its partners to generate long-term returns while respecting its traditions and the principle of kaitiakitanga – stewardship of natural resources.

Miraka is a Māori-owned dairy company that reflects the cultural beliefs of its owners in the operations of its business. Miraka uses geothermal and sustainable energy to process milk from its local suppliers, with active programmes for composting and soil management, waste minimisation and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Luisa Lombardi, Senior Lecturer Accounting, and Barry Cooper, Associate Dean Industry Engagement and Partnership, Deakin University , Australia

First Nations Foundation is the only national Indigenous charity in Australia with a focus on financial wellbeing. Established in 2006 by a group of respected First Australian leaders, the Foundation focuses on assisting First Australians with money management, acting as a bridge between Indigenous people’s needs and the financial service industry as well as identifying and quantifying the financial needs and trends of First Nations people through research.

AIME (The Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience) is a dynamic educational program that is proven to support Indigenous students through high school and into university, employment or further education at the same rate as all Australian students.

Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative provides Aboriginal families living or in transit in Wathaurong’s traditional boundaries with assistance, increased and improved access to a range of culturally appropriate health, housing, education, employment and cultural services; contributes to improvements in community wellbeing; and builds the capacity of the community to control its own affairs and achieve self-determination.

Read more about about how Deakin is promoting accounting as a career choice with Indigenous students.

Debbie Roberts, University of Waikato, New Zealand

Stunnuz Clothing is a youthful streetwear fashion brand that is influenced by New Zealand culture. The business successes have been driven by passion for design, culture and youth. The journey of the business has opened many opportunities, national and internationally, and has a greater goal to further develop globally.

The Te Rau Aroha Omaio development project is a community owned and led enterprise that will bring to life the guiding principles of sustainable economic, environmental, social and cultural development through the systematic migration of 150 hectares of low-value maize growing into a truly sustainable enterprise linked to elite high-value food markets of the world.

The enterprise will aggregate together Maori owned traditional lands to create scale and use the world’s-best knowledge (including traditional knowledge), science and technology to integrate organic practices into the value chain and create more than 100 new full-time local jobs over five years.

Read more about University of Waikato’s work to contextualise the MBA with an Indigenous focus.

Promoting Accounting as a Career Choice with Indigenous Students – Deakin University, Australia

2015,DBS,Indigenous,Accounting, Business,Conferemce,RACV,Barry, Cooper,Mike,Ewing,Louisa,Lomabardi, Brian,martin,Deakin,students,

Of the more than 180,000 Australian professional accounting body members, only 30 professionally qualified accountants identify as Indigenous Australians. This is something that the team at Deakin University is trying to change. The Indigenous Higher Education @ Deakin Action Plan 2016-2020 builds on the long and successful history of education and research with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at Deakin University. Through their Institute of Koorie Education, Indigenous students are supported to complete business studies and undertake leadership roles in business and in accounting.

I had the chance to speak with Deakin University’s Dr. Luisa Lombardi, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Accounting, and Associate Dean Industry Engagement and Partnerships Professor, Barry J Cooper, who are influencing the nation through their events and research activities.

What was/is the Indigenous Accounting and Business Conference and Indigenous Australian Accounting Project?

The inaugural Indigenous Accounting and Business conference was held in 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. This two-day conference brought together academics and professionals from across Australian universities and businesses. The conference, of which over 80% of the more than 30 panel speakers were Indigenous peoples, aimed at providing a means to better understand the barriers to entering business and the accounting profession. Partners included CPA Australia, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand as well as PwC, EY and KPMG. Panels were organized around the following topics: overseas Indigenous accounting associations; the role of education in Indigenous success; government policy for Indigenous economic development; Indigenous Australian accountants; governance and Indigenous organisations; strategies for meaningful employment of Indigenous peoples; reconciliation action plans; and Indigenous business success stories.

Why accounting?

There has traditionally been a general lack of awareness of the usefulness of accounting within Indigenous communities. One of the reasons for this is that the business of money is not seen as an Indigenous field. Although more and more Indigenous students are enrolling into university degrees, they are choosing fields such as medicine, law, education and nursing rather than accounting. A business degree, and more specifically, an accounting degree, can be a means to re-empowerindividuals and entire communities to regain control over their own finances.

Here is an article about Gresham Congoo, a consultant at PwC in Indigenous Consulting in Australia, who became the 30th Indigenous Australian to receive a professional accounting designation from the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

What were some of the key takeaways from the 2015 conference?

The key takeaways include the message that accounting and business skills in the hands of Indigenous peoples are a tool of empowerment and are arguably crucial for Indigenous success. Accounting and finance skills have traditionally been provided for Indigenous peoples by non-Indigenous peoples. Historically this has led to unfavourable outcomes for Indigenous peoples.

However, accounting and financial skills can be very positive and empowering when delivered ‘by’ Indigenous peoples as opposed to being delivered ‘for’ Indigenous peoples. Accounting and financial skills need to be delivered and used in a culturally competent and safe manner. As Mr. Russell Taylor, keynote speaker at the conference, stated, “In dealing with Indigenous peoples, professional competence is of absolute paramount importance. However, I would issue a challenge to the accounting profession and it is this: from an Indigenous perspective, cultural competence is just as important as professional competence!”

A key piece of feedback from conference attendees was that as a result of interactions at the conference and as Indigenous accountants, they now felt valued and supported for the journey they have taken to become a member of the accounting profession.

Recent research undertaken

Luisa Lombardi and Barry J Cooper were successful in receiving research funding from CPA Australia for a project titled: An investigation into the role of educators, employers and the accounting profession in providing opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to enter the field of accounting. A total of fifteen recommendations were made to provide strategies that aimed at addressing the barriers that have resulted in virtual exclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from the accounting profession.

CPA Australia responded to some of the strategies and examples of recommendations adopted, including the following:

  • Indigenous Accountants Australia (IAA) has now been established as a joint initiative of CPA Australia and Chartered Accountants Australia New and Zealand. It now has its own dedicated website (www.indigenousaccountants.com.au) for networking with Indigenous students and graduates of accounting and business, employers and Indigenous communities.
  • Through the IAA, the accounting bodies are attempting to increase their engagement with Indigenous Centres at universities. The engagement involves Indigenous Relationship Managers promoting accounting as a desirable major in business studies courses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
  • A resource is to be developed for the IAA website, promoted through social media channels, and used and shared with Indigenous students and graduates that identifies the different pathways towards, and the benefits of, a professional designation with either of the accounting professional bodies. There are also plans for a mentoring program to be offered under the IAA. The insights and assistance of IAA’s Advisory Committee will be accessed to inform its development and implementation.

What have been some of the challenges relating to the project/conference?

  • To continue raising consciousness in a positive, interesting and culturally safe way
  • To support the path for Indigenous peoples to enter business and accounting roles so that positive economic outcomes are achieved
  • It is evident that more research and support is needed to address the opportunities and challenges in a collaborative and meaningful way.

What is next?

The Indigenous Accounting and Business conference will run again this year on 26th and 27th October 2016 in Geelong, Victoria, Australia. It should help further build relationships, provide an opportunity to share knowledge and explore strategies for building business and finance opportunities. We are also involved in continuing research that investigates the role that accounting can play in the economic empowerment of Indigenous peoples. By running the conference in a relational way with Indigenous peoples, we are demonstrating that cultural competence is paramount to professional competence. The conference is an exemplar of best practice in relational methodologies for Indigenous Australians.


Providing a Snapshot of Support for PRME and Sustainability – University of New South Wales

UNSWThe University of New South Wales (UNSW) Business School, in Australia, is one of the largest business schools in the southern hemisphere with over 13,000 business school students and 54,000 university students. Following their decision to join the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) in 2010, the school began a multi year project called “Capturing the Champions,” aimed at providing a snapshot of where they currently stood, in terms of both curriculum and faculty engagement, in implementing sustainability and responsible management, and outlining how they may further strengthen and embed their commitment to PRME over the upcoming years. I recently spoke with Shanil Samarakoon from the University of New South Wales about the “Capturing the Champions” project and the lessons they learnt.

Introduce the “Capturing the Champions” project and how it came to be.

A three-stage project was conceived by Dr.Tracy Wilcox and Dr.Mehreen Faruqi with support from the senior management team at UNSW Business School shortly after we signed on to PRME in 2010. The purpose of the “Capturing the Champions” project was to present a snapshot of how UNSW Business School was engaging with PRME. This snapshot drew on an exploratory study of current teaching and learning activities within the Business School. The study centred on findings from a staff survey, the results of a desk audit of core courses and the identification of PRME Champion courses—courses across both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that demonstrated the breadth and depth of pedagogy related to PRME within the UNSW Business School.

What criteria did you use in your audits?

A key step in simplifying the process of scanning the landscape was the development of 8 criteria that together encompassed what responsible management education might look like for us. These included:

  1. Economic sustainability – promotion of the concept of sustainable, long-term value as distinct from short-term value
  2. Social and ethical sustainability – includes business ethics, professional ethics, business impacts on communities and societies, stakeholder models, corporate social responsibility, governance, indigenous enterprise, sustainable development, workplace safety, human rights, and supply chain ethics
  3. Environmental sustainability – covers business impacts on the natural environment
  4. Alternative models of business, finance and reporting – encompasses a range of alternative approaches including social enterprise, cooperatives, mutual organisation and the social economy
  5. International principles and frameworks – captures students’ exposure to global and regional principles and frameworks related to responsible management and business practices
  6. Responsible leadership – ethical and authentic forms of leadership that acknowledge business leaders duties and responsibilities
  7. Integration of the pillars of sustainability – environmental, social, economic, cultural and their interrelationships and interdependencies
  8. Multistakeholder engagement – encompasses processes and frameworks for engaging with the spectrum of business stakeholders

What have been some of the interesting findings from the project and why?

What we found was that across the business school, there was broad support for PRME and many core courses were already embedding PRME principles. Twenty-four per cent of respondents identified themselves as being involved in PRME-related research. Of these, 64 per cent engaged with business, 69 per cent with NGOs and 33 per cent with government institutions.

The results of our pilot audit were presented to senior management as well as at the Australasian Business Ethics Network Conference where feedback was sought and our approach was revised based on some of the suggestions we received.

We also found a suite of electives that specifically addressed elements of PRME—what we called “champion courses.” Some of these champion courses are listed below.

  • Creating Social Change: From Innovation to Impact (COMM 2000)
  • Reporting for Climate Change and Sustainability (ACCT 5961)
  • Teams, Ethics and Competitive Advantage (MGMT 5050)
  • Managing for Organisational Sustainability (GBAT 9119)
  • Non-Profit and Social Marketing (MARK 5819)

What are the different ways you are already or are planning to engage faculty, and how are they going so far?

The report was launched to faculty in November 2014 along with the UNSW Business School Community of Practice initiative, which will allow us to design and introduce innovative new courses and programmes and offer a range of integrated learning experiences pertaining to, for example, ethics, sustainability, and social and environmental responsibility. We have an objective to include a new core elective in the Bachelor of Commerce and the online MBA that allow specialisation in social impact. We also now offer a Social Entrepreneurship Practicum and have created placement opportunities for students to work with indigenous communities.

Through the Community of Practice we have already begun to meet as a group and share ideas and classroom approaches. This includes a regular brown-bag seminar series, which all business school faculty are invited to attend. We also hope to reach out more broadly across the university.

Another way in which we are acknowledging and engaging our faculty is through our new PRME Teaching Award. This award recognises and celebrates the teaching contributions of “champion” faculty. Dr. Maria Balatbat was our first recipient of the award for her pioneering work in teaching sustainability reporting within the School of Accounting, her extensive engagement with industry, and her role as the Joint Director of the Centre for Energy and Environmental Markets.

What have been some of the challenges? Successes?

A key challenge for our small research team of three, has been juggling time and resources within already busy schedules. We were fortunate to have financial support from our Deputy Dean (Education) to help conduct the research project.

In terms of successes, having a clear sense of the current landscape in terms of engagement with PRME and the identification of champions across all schools has been important for us. Faculty engagement with PRME exceeded our expectations and we now have a vibrant community of practice!

What advice would you have for other schools thinking of putting something similar into place?

We would really recommend that other schools embark on a process like this as it has provided a valuable means for identifying and celebrating the work that is being done in responsible management education that may be going unrecognised. It also functions as a useful “gap analysis” for future strategies.

It is important to gain support of senior management within the business school, both for resourcing and importantly, legitimating the research process. For example, our staff survey response rate was over 40%. We would not have been able to achieve this backing without the support of senior management.

What is next for the Capture the Champions Project?

The next stage for us involves growing our community of practice and helping further embed PRME into our courses.

The faculty survey is now being rolled out across Australia and New Zealand as part of a wider multi-institution project, enabling a regional snapshot of engagement with PRME.

For more on the “Capturing the Champions” project, or any of the elements, please feel free to contact Dr. Tracy Wilcox (t.wilcox(at)unsw.edu.au).

Take One Step – Engaging with the SDGs at Monash Business School

The call is out for universities to engage with the Sustainable Development Goals in multiple ways; through research, through curriculum and partnerships. But equally important is to raise awareness and engage individual students on a day-to-day basis. At Monash Business School, an online platform that challenges participants to make an SDG-inspired change in their life and document their progress was launched in 2016. I spoke with Professor Michaela Rankin from the School about this successful initiative.

Introduce Take One Step and how it came about

Take One Step is an online platform developed by Monash Sustainable Development Institute (MSDI), Monash University, which aims to engage and educate students about the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through social interaction, light learning content and quizzes. The interactive platform plays on student’s competitive instincts and incorporates the use of achievement badges to encourage action. As part of the challenge, students are asked to commit to an action, allocate an SDG that aligns most closely with the action, post updates, take quizzes and read learning content. It also inspires social interactivity through the ability to share, like and follow other people’s challenges.

The platform also provides an enhanced education experience to our students in order to support the School’s commitment to PRME and implementation of the SDGs.

What are the key features of the programme and how does it work?

The platform offers practical tools akin to an online social network. Take One Step sets out a challenge for users to commit to an action or ‘step’ in their own lives that would contribute to a more sustainable future. As part of the six-week pilot, participants who signed up were asked to:

  • Sign up to the platform and outline one (or more) sustainability action they planned to take
  • Share their progress on this step to track its completion (through photos, explanations, comments etc.)
  • Earn five achievement ‘badges’ through milestones on the platform including social media sharing, liking other participant’s steps, reading articles and completing quizzes

Those who completed these ‘badges’ would become eligible to attend a celebration event hosted by the School.

What have been some of the challenges and successes? 

In 2016, Take One Step was delivered as a tailored pilot to students in Monash Business School. A total of 239 students took part, 87 actions were committed to and 60 students registered for an end-of-challenge event featuring the Managing Director of L’Oréal, Australia New Zealand who, as an organisation have taken great strides in implementing the SDGs in their day to day operations. An evaluation of the pilot found that 65% of students improved their understanding of the SDGs, while 80% reported a greater awareness of why sustainability is relevant to business.

As a pilot we were overall very pleased with the results and have identified technical areas to enhance its simplicity. One option for consideration is to develop a mobile app to support user engagement and to provide simple ways to share activities and milestones.

Our pilot audience identified strongly with the issues of sustainability, and we received a wide range of recorded ‘steps’ on the site, with a diverse range of SDGs represented in the actions recorded.

We have also received enquiries and positive feedback from constituents interested in engaging with the platform. The importance of mobilising student groups and staff members to champion the project was critical to the success, as well as gamification elements of the platform. While the project experienced some initial engagement issues, particularly with students who had little or no interest in sustainability, it proved valuable to focus on networking opportunities and linking sustainability to future job roles.

What’s next for the initiative?

Following a detailed evaluation phase, a number of recommendations have been identified and we are looking at ways we can scale up the platform to enable it to be shared more widely. There is significant potential for other institutions to engage with Take One Step providing them with a practical tools to enhance sustainability education in both the education sector and corporates.

In the long run, it is envisioned Take One Step will enable students from different countries to interact, share ideas and work on challenges together. MSDI is looking to create a dedicated platform for the site that can be customised with educational video content and collaboration tools.

For the month of May Primetime will be featuring examples around the Special Focus area Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11). Click here to see the rest of the articles in that feature.

Creating a Truly Interdisciplinary Degree in Sustainability – Monash Business School

For the last post as part of our special series focused on Australia and New Zealand we travel back to Melbourne to speak with Susie Ho, Course Coordinator of the new Master of Environment and Sustainability at Monash University in Australia. This new Masters, currently in its second year, is a truly interdisciplinary approach that doesn’t just allow students to take courses in different disciplines but involves the active participation and collaboration of faculty across several parts of the university.

Introduce the new cross faculty masters and how it came about.

The Monash Master of Environment and Sustainability provides interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and specialist topics, plus real-world practice, all within a single course.

It was created by a range of senior University experts from different disciplines, from Arts, Science, Business and Economics, the Monash Sustainable Development Institute, and beyond. All recognised that challenges in sustainability require interdisciplinary discussion and multidisciplinary solutions, and future leaders with the capacity to span boundaries.

Young change agents of today are incredible – they are articulate, bold and passionate about improving the world around them for people, ecosystems, and economies. However, to do this, they will need to deal with considerable complexity and influence behaviour, organisations, and social systems. This course aims to provide the theory as well as the interdisciplinary awareness and hands on, real-world experience and 21st century skills to help foster their technical and personal capacity to help drive innovation and lead sustainability initiatives in Australia and internationally.

What are the key features of the programme and how does it work. 

The interdisciplinary springboard to the course provides a strong and broad foundation for understanding the nature of sustainability and global change – as well as the languages of different disciplines, cultures and sectors as required for effective collaboration. Students collaborate to examine and integrate different forms of evidence and diverse perspectives – as will be required in the complex work environment and the world ahead. The forward-thinking specialisations include unique perspectives and synthesis of emerging fields and trends in global change. Students critically examine and apply professional practice in Australia and globally in topics such as environmental security, governance, international development, leadership and corporate environmental and sustainability management.

Throughout, the course connects students with experts and influencers from across the many disciplines and industries of environment and sustainability – as well as one another – their future global work network. They can also select electives from across eight Faculties at the University.

How did you bring together the different faculties to put this programme together?

It was crucial to involve passionate educators from all key contributing Faculties at all stages. This meant collaborating on the overarching vision, to the curriculum design and skills mapping, to how the units would run on the ground. This degree is truly unique in involving all voices from the early stages to implementation. We are a tight team in regular contact to ensure that harmony persists. This goes right down to letting each other know how our students are responding to different content throughout semester. We also use a unified Course level Moodle page to communicate with students together at the course-level.

We knew from the start that a ‘patchwork’ degree was not on the table, and thus we used a broad variety of strategies to ensure cohesion and harmony as outlined above. Educators must be willing to get out of their comfort zones, and truly span boundaries themselves, just as the students will do.

A good example of our approach is our foundation units. We designed the core units, through true inter-Faculty collaboration, meaning they have the same features of interdisciplinarity, multiple perspectives, reflection, and a strong commitment to collaborative, active and blended learning. However, we were careful to be complementary rather than repetitive. So, one of our two core units explores perspectives on sustainability and develops transferable skills, appropriate for all careers, via critical analysis of conceptual frameworks (e.g. it has a social science flavour). The other focuses on evidence-based practice and sustainability science, developing transferable skills such as critical thinking, systematic review, and horizon scanning (e.g. more scientific).

What have been some of the challenges? 

Interdisciplinary – true interdisciplinarity – is challenging. For educators and curriculum designers, it requires the willingness and capacity to learn new languages and ways of doing things (methodologies), and to see the merit of new ways of looking at the world. You must be able to step right out of your comfort zone and your discipline. It involves constantly learning to approach task through new disciplinary and industry lenses. I would say that self-reflection is key, for both students and educators. How is my discipline, or other elements of my culture, narrowing my view – and how can I integrate and translate what I know to go beyond my niche? For me, this is the purpose of the United Nations SDGs, and of what we do in this course.


Our students are just incredible. They are passionate, proactive, and bold change agents. For example, they come to us from 15 different countries, and with United Nations, industry, government, and other amazing professional experience. We are privileged to work with those coming in from the Colombian police force to those in sustainable fashion.

Another success of the course, noting it is only in its second year, is seeing how the course fosters careers and impact. Our first few graduates have come through, and it’s been incredible. One student has recently taken a position at Tesla. Another will lead up a Geographic Information Systems laboratory in the Colombian Police Force. Others are getting involved with the UN in their home nations, or moving into policy and consultancy.

What do your students do to prepare for post graduation?

Students are all different with different aspirations for their career ahead. Thus, we provide multiple practice options, including an internship, with many students based at E&Y and Melbourne Water over this summer, and an open project creating flexibility for students to follow their own passions. Our more academically inclined students are preparing for a PhD by commencing a thesis year. Research theses are on topics that align with the student’s particular background and passions. To provide an example of the range, one student is investigating water quality parameters and nutrient cycling while another is exploring green urban design in low socio-economic areas.

Our Course Director, specialisation coordinators, and lead educators, including Melodie McGeoch (Science), Annette Bos (MSDI), and Wendy Stubbs (Faculty of Arts), provide one on one course mapping, support, opportunities and contacts to suit specific needs. This is something that is rare and clearly deeply appreciated by our students.

What advice would you have for other schools thinking of putting something similar into place?

As we know, an interdisciplinary offering – a true interdisciplinary offering – is much more than allowing students to take units from a range of different Faculties. It involves educators – and students – working very hard to harmonise and integrate different knowledge and perspectives to find new harmonised solutions. It involves an incredible amount of work to collaboratively develop and where possible co-teach students but it is the type of work that rewards and enriches all of those involved.

Interdisciplinary staff and students must be supported in this deep work, through educational training, time and resources. They need time to understand one another and to ensure their approaches are harmonised. The team must work together form the get go – and be prepared to learn a lot from different fields. This extends to administrators, who need to develop new administrative models to support the inter-faculty offering.

What’s next for the initiative?

We are absolutely thrilled to be offering a MSDI-led interdisciplinary industry consultancy project for the first time this year. In this unit, students are grouped into teams based on their complementary disciplinary expertise, and partnered with a governmental or industry group, with a real problem. Just like in real consultancy work, students must liaise to understand the client’s issue, write a proposal, form a solution or product, and present it.

Developing a Sustainability Disposition – La Trobe Business School

In 2008, La Trobe Business School in Melbourne, Australia was one of the first schools to become a Signatory to PRME. The Business School, which also has campuses in Sydney, China, France and Vietnam, has been actively engaged in both embedding responsible management within its school as well as contributing to the PRME network. They are starting their second term as a PRME Champion, Ten years on, they were selected to be a PRME Champion along with 38 other business schools from across the world who are taking transformative action on integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into three key areas: curriculum, research and partnerships.

In 2015 the School put in place a second year subject focused on Sustainability which is mandatory for all students enrolled in any Business Degree. Because of its focus on developing a sustainability disposition in students rather than just educating them about the issues, the course has been very well received by students and continues to be an exemplar of cross-disciplinary subject content within the School. I spoke with Dr Swati Nagpal about this innovative course. 

What is La Trobe Business School’s approach to sustainability in the classroom?

LBS understands the obligation as an institution to advocate for responsible management education throughout the school; in its four departments and its research centres, and by advocating and supporting responsible management initiatives and operations across the university.

A patchwork of subjects addressing Sustainability Education in Business degree courses at La Trobe was replaced in 2015 by a core second year subject entitled ‘BUS2SUS – Sustainability’, for all students enrolled in any Business degree. More than 2,500 students are now enrolled in this compulsory subject every year. This includes students from a range of business majors, including management, human resource management, marketing, accounting, sport management, finance, event management, tourism and hospitality, economics, international business, and agribusiness.

The subject is based on a blended learning design that allows for greater scalability across the entire portfolio of majors within Business and across all our campuses in Australia and abroad. With sustainability as the lens or context for change, students are introduced to systems thinking, tools for solving wicked problems, and the role of advocacy in managing change for sustainability.

How have you approached the design and delivery of this core course?

The process of embedding sustainability thinking into the core business curriculum presented a number of challenges, including distinguishing sustainability from related streams of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and non-financial measurement and reporting. The curriculum design was ultimately guided by the need for a future set of skills, rather than by identifying disciplinary content that business graduates might require. These skills include critical thinking, creative problem solving, ethical awareness and teamwork. For example, by working in small groups in class, and engaging with ‘wicked’ global sustainability issues such as climate change, global poverty and renewable energy, students are required to apply a systems lens to examining the true nature of the issues and potential solutions.

There is also an emphasis on creating a ‘safe space’ in classes to tackle often controversial social and environmental issues such as indigenous disadvantage in Australia, the refugee crisis and the potential for a sugar tax. This has required class teachers to be briefed and trained in pedagogical techniques that require reflexive practice and approaches to manage conflict.

The course puts a focus on developing a sustainability disposition. Why do you think this is important?

Research on education for sustainability, student surveys and teaching feedback have taught us that developing graduate skills for sustainability is not enough to create the impetus required for students to be change agents for sustainability, there also needs to be an emphasis on creating a ‘mindset’ change. This is enabled in the subject through use of a range of pedagogical design elements to create a learning environment that seeks to bring about this change. For example, through the use of case studies, examples and problem-based scenarios that require students to reflect on their underlying values base and question the status quo in management thought.

As such, this subject places a focus on both generic graduate skills such as critical thinking and problem solving, while also creating the disposition towards sustainability and ethical decision-making.

How are the SDGs embedded into this course?

Using the SDGs as a guide, students are introduced to the interplay between the social, environmental and economic pillars of sustainability, and the implications for ethically complex decision-making.

Ultimately, educating students new to the SDGs places us in a unique position as the entry point in their educational experience. We believe this is critical in developing their awareness of global issues and challenges so that they can enter the workplace fully equipped to advance and implement policies and practices that will contribute to sustainable business.

What advice would you have for other schools thinking of putting something similar into place?

The question of whether business schools should approach embedding sustainability into core curriculum or as an elective has not been resolved to date. Our experience at LBS in taking the ‘core subject’ approach has been positive since we have the institutional support in terms of the University’s focus on sustainability and our historical emphasis and ethos of social justice. Therefore, gaining institutional support for furthering the sustainability agenda is key, along with the resources to make it happen.

The challenge in any modern business subject in sustainably is an emphasis on both the development of graduate skills and students’ disposition towards sustainability and ethical decision-making. This requires modern educators to span the boundary of the classroom and identify opportunities to engage with industry partners and other stakeholders to continuously produce innovative teaching materials and approaches that inspire and motivate students to pursue business ideas that align with the SDGs. 

What’s next for the class?

Next year, a major piece of assessment will focus on students (in groups) generating a business idea to be in contention for the Hult Prize. One of the challenges with a large enrolments in the subject are the limited options to create authentic assessments. An international student competition that requires students to develop an actionable and scalable business idea is both practical and allows for gamification/competitive elements to be built into the subject design.

What other initiatives at your school you are particularly proud of in this area especially in relation to the SDGs.

In 2017, LBS embarked on a series of workshops that brought together delegates from business, local government, education, not for profit and community sectors to discuss what the SDGs mean for them, and create opportunities for collaboration among the sectors towards implementation of the goals.

This outreach project on the SDGs is an international effort by our CR3+ network which includes LBS and PRME Champions Audencia Nantes School of Management (Nantes, France), ISAE/FGV (Curitiba, Brazil) and Hanken School of Economics (Helsinki, Finland). All four business schools have committed to hosting similar workshops in their countries.

Two Australian workshops were held in Wollongong and Albury-Wodonga on 15/11/17 and 29/11/17 respectively. In addition to the original aims as set out in the project proposal, the choice to focus on regional areas was two-fold; firstly, to develop our regional campus’ capacity to build and sustain cross-sector engagement and partnerships on the theme of the SDGs, and secondly, to focus on areas where UN Global Compact Network Australia presence is limited.

This post is part of a special feature throughout the month of February focused on schools in Australia and New Zealand. 

The SDGs at the University of Wollongong

Students at the University of Wollongong

In a past post I had the chance to speak with Belinda Gibbons, the coordinator of the Australia and New Zealand Chapter, about the Chapters transition from an Emerging to an Established Chapter as well as the specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are most pertinent to that region. I also had the chance to speak to Belinda about her other role, that of  coordinator of PRME activities at the University of Wollongong in Australia about what her University has planned around the SDGs.

How is the University of Wollongong approaching responsible management education?

While I am the AUSNZ PRME Chapter Coordinator, I also coordinate the responsible management education practices within the Faculty of Business at the University of Wollongong (UOW) where I am a senior lecturer for the Sydney Business School. A PRME signatory since 2009, the UOW Faculty of Business executive have always demonstrated significant support for responsible and sustainable education in curriculum and research. More recently we have modified our vision to directly focus on being a ‘ global leader in promoting the theory and practice of responsible business principles’. Backed by our mission ‘…….to promote responsible leadership and sustainable business practice, and contribute to a stronger economy and a more just society’. This change ensures that the key areas of responsible management are at the forefront of all decisions, actions and discussions.

How is the University integrating the SDGs?

While we have interdisciplinary subjects that are built upon the theoretical foundation of the UN Global Compact (UNGC) and map PRME and SDG education research across disciplines, some of the smaller initiatives at Wollongong are having a large-scale difference. Examples of these include; a PRME representative seat on the Faculty Education Committee to ensure responsible management is in all curriculum and assessment changes; PRME representation in all course reviews with the latest course reviews in 2016 ensuring responsible management in undergraduate and postgraduate course learning outcomes and assurance of learning practices; academic and professional staff hiring job descriptions now have responsible leadership and sustainable business practices in position descriptions alongside grant funding applications must show how they contribute and provide impact to the mission and particular SDGs.

What are some of your challenges moving forward?

The challenge moving forward is to instil the SDGs into the fabric of the University and not just the Business Faculty. More recently UOW signed as a member of the UNGC. This institution membership provides a path for SDG discussions beyond the Faculty of Business. Evidence of this occurred in November 2017 when UOW collaborated with Healthy Cities Illawarra and PRME Champion School LaTrobe Business School to bring together delegates from business, local government, education, not for profit and community sectors to discuss what the SDGs mean for them, and create opportunities for collaboration among the sectors towards implementation of the goals. A workshop was held as a breakfast event, with an impressive turnout of 120 attendees.

It is also important that we extend our collaborations across institutions internationally. Throughout 2016, Wollongong took part in the global WikiRate Student Engagement Trial. This trial enabled us to discuss processes and outcomes with a number of international PRME signatories and we volunteered to conduct an external review and research piece on the perspectives of different participants involved in the project. This research has generated insights that are feeding into the next phase of the project, and that help to ensure students, professors and their institutions are getting the best experience and learning.

Any tips for other schools looking to engage in the SDGs?

Senior leadership support and a culture whereby creativity and the ability to experiment is essential to deliver the change in higher education that is required to realise the SDGs.


Learn more about Wollongong engagement in PRME…

In their 2017 Sharing Information on Progress Report, UOW provides a chart that represents the Faculty of Business’ research grouped by Sustainable Development Goal. This was featured in a past PRiMEtime post on Reporting on the SDGs- A Visual Tour of Different Approaches. In 2016 UOW’s involvement in the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience was also featured. AIME is an Australia wide educational programme that supports indigenous students through high school and into University by pairing these students with mentor students form the Business School. Back in 2015 we spoke to Belinda about their experiences merging two approaches to responsible management education when the University of Wollongong merged with another Business School in 2013. 

International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development

The United Nations proclaimed 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development in recognition of the tremendous potential of the tourism industry, which accounts for some 10% of the world’s economic activity. This is a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the contribution of sustainable tourism towards development among public and private sector decision-makers and the public while mobilizing all stakeholders to work together in making tourism a catalyst for positive change. The year aims to promote tourism’s role in the areas of

  • Inclusive and sustainable economic growth
  • Social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction
  • Resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change
  • Cultural values, diversity and heritage, and
  • Mutual understanding, peace and security

Many business schools around the world have programmes focused on the topic of sustainable tourism.

Ted Rogers School of Management in Canada has a course on sustainable tourism called ‘The Golden Goose’. The course examines social responsibility and sustainability issues at both the micro and macro levels of the industry and examines the impact and solutions to both local and global issues. Case study analysis is an integral component of the course and the major focus will be to discuss and debate solutions and strategies for ethically optimizing business while minimizing adverse effects. They also have an Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Research that further explores these topics.

Griffith University’s Institute for Tourism in Australia is actively contributing to the International Year through its research projects including its Tourism and Economics programme, Tourism Business in the Asia Pacific programme, Sustainable Tourism and Climate Change programme, Visitor Experience programme and Sustainable Tourism for Regional Growth Training programmes. The Institute has also designed a Global Sustainable Tourism Dashboard that tracks global progress towards sustainable tourism development.

Corvinus University of Budapest  and the Municipality of Budapest established a joint agreement with the Department of Tourism to promote research and development goals in regarding the complex cultural development of the Ferencváros district. The first project aimed at re-designing a special dining and cultural street of the district with an aim to increase sustainable tourism. The student research project involved over 60 students, working with four professors. 700 Hungarian and 300 international visitors were surveyed over the three months of the project.

Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK is working with Positive Impact, a not-for-profit organisation that provides education for the sustainable events industry, to produce an industry report that outlines a number of key sustainable areas and points of action for the event industry. This includes an estimate of the global carbon footprint and global food waste of the events industry as well as an investigatory piece about the power of behaviour change that events have including social impacts. The report is being presented as part of the ‘Year of Sustainable Tourism Development’.

The International Centre of Studies on Tourism Economics (CISET) at CA’Foscari University of Venice in Italy supports and promotes tourism as an engine of economic growth and social development, capable of producing material and cultural wealth for local, national and international businesses and destinations. The approach of the centre is a blend of academic expertise and business know-how, based on a strong synergy between research studies and consultancy services. CISET provide the tourist industry, local administrations and future tourism operators with the tools to approach the market in innovative ways.

JAMK’s Tourism and Hospitality department in Finland organised the 12th International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations last June. They also played a major role in establishing, and is now coordinating, the International Centre for Responsible Tourism Finland. In the summer of 2016 they organised an international summer school called ‘For Seasons in Responsible Tourism’ and are launching a new course in 2017 on Responsible Tourism.

A faculty member at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand has developed a course called Managing Visitor Impact designed to deepen students’ understanding of sustainable tourism development by exposing students to the complexities, realities and tensions commonly observed in developing countries. A key part of the course is a group role-play scenario where students take a virtual field trip based on a real Fijian island.

The Teaching Agrotourism course at University of Applied Sciences HTW Chur in Switzerland focuses on the interface of agriculture and tourism by combining aspects of sustainable agriculture and ecological tourism. The focus is on the interaction between tourism and a sustainable family-farming project. As compared to any kind of mass tourism, this specific form of tourism is directly supporting this regional livelihood. Chur faculty also do research focused on entrepreneurial tourism development in Georgia.

EADA in Spain is doing research on sustainability in the tourism and hospitality industry focused on how the industry can use sustainability not just as a way of absorbing societal costs and changes in the business environment, but to create value and transform those costs into higher revenue.

The Degree in Tourism Management at the Universidad de Occidente in Mexico aims to train experts in the management of tourism organisations and projects with the ability to make ethical, social and environmental decisions. It looks at innovation within this industry and how it impacts society. One of the three focus areas of the programme is centred on Tourism and Sustainable Development

The official website for the year provides a range of resources and links to events happening all over the world around this topic. It also has links to publications that cover the topic of sustainability from a business perspective that can be used in the classroom. The Global Compact also has some resources on the Tourism industry including a webinar on Good Practices to Address Human Trafficking in Travel and Tourism.


For the month of May Primetime will be featuring examples around the Special Focus area Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11). Click here to see the rest of the articles in that feature.


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