Students Exploring Solutions to Local SDG Challenges – Universidad EAFIT

 

Reaching the Sustainable Development Goals requires the support and involvement of all groups in exploring the challenges but also proposing innovative solutions. This is exactly what the students at Universidad EAFIT in Colombia are doing. Over the past year they have been developing a range of solutions to SDGs with a particular focus on the issues most relevant to their country and community. I spoke with Maria Alejandra Gonzalez Perez, Professor of Management at Universidad EAFIT, about their involvement in the global initiative Ideas for Action.

What is I4A and how did EAFIT become involved?

I4A (Ideas for Action) is a joint project between the World Bank Group and Wharton Business School to foster the engagement of young people in international development, and with a specific focus in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I4A wanted to increase the participation of Latin America in the initiative. We were personally invited by Prof. Djordjija Petkoski at the Wharton School to participate in the annual competition.

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

I4A annual competition aims to promote a generation of ideas for financing and implementing the SDGs. Winners are invited to present their projects at the IMF and World Bank annual meeting, and they receive support by a start-up accelerator in Wharton. In 2017, over 700 projects were submitted, and around 30 of them were by teams from EAFIT.

How were EAFIT students specifically involved?

As part of their CSR course, or as a voluntary project, students designed their projects, and submitted their projects to Ideas 4 action. Students were given academic recognition for the power of their ideas, the realistic possibilities of implementing the project, and their commitment. Click here for an overview presentation. 

What kinds of ideas were proposed/what was the impact on the students?

Most of the projects submitted by EAFIT addressed SDGs 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) and 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth). The majority of the proposed initiatives were focused on post-conflict Colombia, and how to create economic and social inclusion for former guerrilla members. The ideas range from extreme wild tourism, community based micro-financing, reforestation, and organic agriculture.

Students expressed that this project gave them the opportunity of building ideas for a more inclusive and sustainable future for their country. It also gave them networking opportunities with other students from around the world, and interaction with senior members of the World Bank.

How did you incorporate this into the curriculum?

Nearly 80% of the submitted projects were from students that take the course “Ethics and Social Responsibility” in the Business Management undergraduate programme. They were assessed based on originality, power of the idea, realistic possibilities of implementation, and, background research (data mining) on the issues and opportunities.

The other 20% of the submissions were by members of the student research groups (Observatory on Trade Investment and Development). They participated because they wanted the opportunity to contribute and be heard.

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

It was our first time participating, and what we found most challenging was ensuring that students understood the importance of the SDGs. It was an excellent way to encourage them to bring together everything they had learned in the business curriculum and apply it to current environmental, social and economic challenges taking place in Colombia. After Brazil, Colombia was the country with most submissions in Latin America. This gave visibility to students, our School, and the country.

What other initiatives are you currently involved?

We are currently involved with WikiRate and have several research groups looking at corporate performance on SDGs 8 and 16. Another initiative on campus that we are proud of is our student research group, the Observatory on Trade Investment and Development. It is a space where students publish articles with short analysis and opinions about the topic of business, investment and development focused primarily on emergent markets and exploring sustainable development. The forum is inspired by the United Nations Conference on trade and Development (UNCTAD). EAFIT is also a member of the Global Compact.

 

2016 Good Practices in Responsible Management Education (Part 1)

It is once again it’s time for PRiMEtime’s year-end review. 2016 was another exciting year with a lot of innovative new initiatives and approaches at business schools around the world embedding responsible leadership and sustainability into their programmes. PRiMEtime provides an extensive and growing database of examples from schools around the world on how to embed sustainability, ethics and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into management education as well as tips on how to move forward.

This year, 60 new articles were posted featuring over 143 examples from more than 65 schools in 38 countries. In this 2-part year-end post we review the examples featured this year, organized roughly around the SDGs, and what we have to look forward to next year. (Click on the links to read the full article).

SDG1SDG2SDG3The Hong Kong Polytechnic University has developed an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Business School and the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, call the Wellness Clinic. It provides preventive care programmes designed, promoted, administered and implemented by students. IEDC-Bled School of Management partnered with members of the UN Global Compact Local Slovenia to organize workshops around the theme of “Health promotion in the workplace as part of the corporate social responsibility and sustainable business development’.

For one week in March, EADA Business School’s campus transforms into a model refugee course where students taking the Managing Humanitarian Emergencies elective learn about the main components required to respond to humanitarian emergencies and extreme situations in general.

 

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La Trobe Business School (Australia), ISAE (Brazil), Audencia Nantes School of Management (France) and Hanken School of Economics (Finland) founded CR3+ Network, a new program that provides a supportive platform to build international collaboration and enables the four schools to work together to build capacity in responsible management education. In the USA, Western Michigan University (USA) partnered with Christ University in Bagalore in India to create an experiential experience to engage students in sustainability discussions in India. Reutlingen University in Germany shared their experiences with the Ethikum Certificate awarded to students who complete a number of special experiences and courses during their time at university. Hult International Business School shared their experiences integrating the SDGs into the core Business and Global Society course. Hult International Business School and Ashridge Business School also shared their experiences integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into their PRME Sharing Information on Progress Report. The University of St. Gallen and oikos work together to offer the PhD Fellowship Programme, a unique opportunity to support international PhD students writing their thesis on sustainability in economics or management.

PRiMEtime also explored a range of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) available on sustainability topics. These courses are free online and open to anyone with an interest in the topic. A series of posts provided an overview of the MOOCs available in the Spring (Part 1 and Part 2) and summer (Part 1 and Part 2).

 

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The American University of Beirut’s University for Senior Programme aims to redefine the role of older people in society by providing them opportunities to remain intellectually challenged and socially connected through a range of lectures, study groups, educational travel programmes, campus life and intergenerational activities. The American University of Beirut also paired up with Citi to provide crucial support and mentoring for female entrepreneurs in Lebanon and the MENA region with the goal of increasing their numbers significantly. Altis Postgraduate School of Business and Society in Italy introduced us to E4Impact, a special programme aimed at training a new class of African leaders who will be able to create jobs in the sustainability sector in their country.

 

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Ryerson University (Canada) designed a unique interdisciplinary programme that brings together faculty from all of the university’s six department called the Environmental Applied Science and Management (EnSciMan) with a focus on environmental management. In Italy, the University of Bologna’s Launch Pad aims to leverage the know-how of the hundreds of PhDs and post-docs studying at the university to facilitate its transformation into valuable products and services, many focused on social and environmental topics. PRiMEtime also looked at a range of global student networks engaged in sustainability that are active within and across business schools.

 

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Antwerp Management School’s ID@Work research programme aims to support organisations in attracting, developing and retaining employees with an intellectual disability. The Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience at the University of Wollongong is an educational programme that supports Indigenous students through high school and into university, employment or further education. Also in Australia, Deakin University has been exploring how to encourage and train more Indigenous Australians to become accountants (currently of the more than 180,000 Australian professional accounting body members, only 30 identify as Indigenous). The Northwest Aboriginal Canadians Entrepreneurs Programme at the University of Victoria Gustavson School of Business is a partnership between several organisations including regional and provision government to offer first class entrepreneurial learning to the Indigenous people of Northwest British Columbia with the aim to enhance the self sufficiency and full economic participation of Indigenous people

Collaborating across borders – The CR3+ Network

La Trobe Business School in Australia has been a PRME signatory since 2008 and an active PRME Champion. They joined forces with several other PRME Signatories to create CR3+ Network. Together the network provides a supportive platform to build international collaboration and enables the participant business schools to work with the PRME and build international and national capacity in Responsible Management Education. I spoke with Associate Professor Suzanne Young, Head of Department and Dr Swati Nagpal, Department of Management and Marketing, from La Trobe Business School, about their participation in this network.

What is the CR3+ Network and how did it come about?

La Trobe Business School has been working with ISAE (Brazil), Audencia Nantes School of Management (France) and Hanken School of Economics (Finland) since 2008 in an effort to exchange ideas, pedagogy, curriculum and research in the area of corporate responsibility. Head of LBS, Professor Paul Mather wrote: “With the support of the Principles for Responsible Executive Education, the CR3+ network’s objective is to promote a debate, inspire changes and propose solutions for challenges related to sustainability and governance, interacting and reaching what UNESCO calls ‘The 5th Pillar of Education: Learning to change and to change society.’”

What are the key features of the programme?

A key outcome of the partnership has been the hosting of an annual CR3+ conference, which has been held at each of the member institutions. Past themes have included governance and sustainability; CSR: expanding horizons, and the power of responsibility. The aim of the CR3+ conferences is to strengthen the partnership and dialogue around sustainability and responsibility, and provide a forum where ideas, developments and concerns in regards to these issues and the work of the PRME can be brought forward.

How is CR3+ different than other similar networks you are part of? How did you meet these specific schools and decide to create a network? 

It involves four schools that are strongly committed to PRME, and which later became PRME Champions, so PRME is very much at the core of CR3+. The network has been driven by the will to learn from each other, bearing in mind that the four schools are from very different and distant parts of the world (Australia, Brazil, Finland and France). From a very early point the core idea was to create a platform for these learning possibilities by organizing a conference involving all 3 (later 4) schools.

What have been some of the challenges? 

The schools are different and distant, not only in geographical terms but also in cultural and institutional terms. Creating special exchanges for students, for example, has faced a number of practical challenges related to differences in terms of tuition fees, types of study programmes, periods of studies, accreditations, etc. Different expectations about the conference have also caused some challenges but overall the learning opportunities and outcomes have far outweighed the challenges.

Successes? 

We have now done one full round of CR3+ conferences (in all 4 schools) and are about to start a second cycle. The mobilization from the different schools has been on the rise – for example, ISAE/FGV researchers have sent many abstracts to the CR3+ conference to be organized in Helsinki – and there has been growing integration between CR3+ events and PRME chapters – the conference in Helsinki will also be tied to a doctoral course organized by the PRME Chapter Nordic (more specifically Hanken, Stockholm School of Economics, BI Norwegian School of Management and CBS).

The CR3+ network has also enabled joint research projects and resulting publications as well as student and staff exchanges.

In autumn 2011, LBS hosted a masters-level exchange student from Hanken to work on a community development project.  Similar student exchanges are currently being planned for LBS students to have the opportunity to extend PRME –related projects at the other CR3+ partner universities.

In 2015, a collaboration between LBS and ISAE tested a new approach to ‘Promoting internationalisation and cross-cultural competency through online collaboration’, which provided opportunities for LBS MBA students to engage in an academic cross-cultural experience with Masters students from ISAE.  The students replicated real-world global communication, by collaborating virtually with people from a different cultural background in real time and jointly solving a series of management problems using online software.

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

The network’s success is due to the relationships between key academic staff in each of the business schools and is also based in their common belief in and focus on the goals of the PRME mission. Members of the network were all early adopters of the PRME and champions of change in their respective institutions. Each School brings to the network their own expertise and demonstrates the national differences in Responsibility and Sustainability initiatives that are seen in academia, industry and government.

Each of the business schools have supported the CR3+ network as they acknowledge that working collaboratively provides greater opportunities for staff and students than working alone. Benefits in research, teaching, partnerships and dialogue have been demonstrated and the parties remain excited about opportunities that are coming from working with others in the new SDG project

What’s next for the initiative?

A pilot project is currently being led by LBS with support from the CR3+ network focused on facilitating a series of national workshops in each country between PRME higher education business schools and members of the UN Global Compact Network to present and interact on the theme of the SDGs. The outcomes of the workshops will be improved dialogue and networks between universities and other sectors, and the initiating of joint projects on the SDGs.

The 5th CR3+ conference will be held at Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki on 28-29 April 2017. The theme of the conference is ‘Making Corporate Responsibility Useful’, where the dominant logic of the ‘business case’ argument for CSR, and the legitimising effect this has on business engagement in CSR, will be brought into question.

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Universities Bringing the Business Community Together – Examples from Denmark, Iceland, Argentina, and USA

Business schools are creating and facilitating spaces where the business community and the academic community can come together to discuss current issues as well as potential solutions to these issues. These collaborative spaces, whether they explore sustainability and the SDGs more broadly or focus in on specific industries or topics, bring benefits not just to the university and its students and researchers, but to the business community as well.

Here are a few examples of collaborative projects from Denmark, Iceland, Argentina and the USA.

Denmark: The Public-Private platform at Copenhagen Business School takes place yearly. Through a combination of interdisciplinary research, teaching and public engagement the platform aims to help mobilise, foster and develop society wide solutions to pressing matters of public concern. The goal of the platform is to initiate dialogue across the traditional divides between public and private, thus facilitating the creation of novel forms of diagnosis and intervention. Business leaders, politicians, managers and academics come together to exchange views and discuss approaches to specific problems with the aim of initiating collaborative programmes and discreet projects to explore novel solutions to these issues. The platform is engaged in several strategic partnerships, including with the Danish Ministry of the Environment.

Argentina: IAE’s Institutional Development Department invited companies from industrial sectors in Argentina to come to their School to share experiences and reflect on how to improve these sectors, without a specific research agenda. This approach expanded the range of companies and institutions contacted, opening the School doors to those that were not necessarily interested in participating in a specific research plan. The result was a new concept of “collaborative forums”, where companies and institutions gather at the School to discuss different topics and share experiences, slowly nurturing their relationships and exploring collaboration paths.

USA: Glasgow Caledonian University New York’s Fair Fashion Centre focuses on the business case for sustainability in the fashion industry in particular and building collaborations with, and between, key players in this industry. Part of their work has a been a series of ‘Town Hall’ events called Fashion Sharing Progress. These events gather leaders from various industries and organisations to offer different perspectives on sustainable development and help identify new solutions for the fashion and retail industry and beyond. This brings together academics, professionals and industry experts to facilitate new learning, which combines profitability with ethical environmental and social considerations. Leading names in the industry have participating in these events including representatives from Nike, Patagonia, the International Labour Organization, and eco-luxe labels. Through these events, companies are sharing the work that they are doing in sustainability with a wider community. For example, Warby Parker is transforming the lives of people around the world unable to afford glasses with their buy-a-pair, give-a-pair model. Levi Stauss & Co disccuss their work around water efficiency and their Water<Less collection, a collection of jeans that use up to 96% less water to create.

Iceland: Some universities host collaborative centres. For example Festa, the Icelandic Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, a non-profit organization founded by six Icelandic companies in 2011 is hosted by Reykjavik University. The mission of Festa is to be a knowledge center for CSR and promote the discussion on CSR in Iceland. In addition it supports companies in implementing CSR strategies and provides a network of companies who want to implement CSR, as well as cooperating with universities by promoting research and teaching of CSR. Founding companies are Rio Tinto Alcan, Íslandsbanki, Landsbankinn, Landsvirkjun, Síminn and Össur. New members include, ÁTVR, Ölgerðin brewery, Capacent, Arion Bank, Innovation Center Iceland, Reykjagarður, ISS Iceland, 112 Iceland and CCP games.

 

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Business and Business Schools Working Together at the Local Level (Part 2)

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 20.50.41Goal 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focuses on revitalising global partnerships for sustainable development. Two key stakeholders already working on issues relating to the SDGs are PRME and the United Nations Global Compact. Both groups operate as a network of networks, with local offices focusing on rooting both the Principles of PRME and of the Global Compact within different national, regional, cultural and linguistic contexts. Together they can have a significant influence at the local level.

In fact, business schools and companies are increasingly working together to further sustainability goals within different national contexts as well as facilitating outreach learning, policy dialogue and collective action. Partnerships between Global Compact Local Networks and PRME signatories  have been, and increasingly will be, an important tool in moving the sustainable development agenda forward.

For the next couple of weeks we will feature a very small selection of some of the many ways that these two groups can and are working together. In Part I, we looked at how business schools are working with Global Compact offices locally. Here we look at how business schools are promoting and providing training around the Ten Principles of the Global Compact.

Promoting the Global Compact

  • Raising awareness about the Global Compact: The Universidad Del Pacifico in Peru organizes a yearly “Support Week for Global Compact.” During this week, students and teachers from the different faculties present their research and projects related to the Six Principles for Responsible Management Education and the Ten Principles of the Global Compact. Global Compact companies participate in the event as well. In Korea, Kyung Hee University School of Management regularly organises field trips where students have the opportunity to visit companies that are part of the UN Global Compact Network Korea. During these trips they have a chance to see the company’s sustainability work.
  • Engaging students in the Global Compact: Students involved in the undergraduate internship programme at the University of Wollongong Faculty of Business in Australia are required to focus on the Ten Principles of the Global Compact at their workplace as part of their assessment. Internships are arranged with corporate partners who are also part of the Global Compact and have a strong focus on sustainability, such as Westpac and National Australia Bank..
  • Promoting the Global Compact to academic institutions: As an early signatory to the Global Compact, Ivey Business School in Canada is leveraging its extensive publishing case collection by matching up the cases with the Ten Principles of the Global Compact. You can now search for cases related to the different Principles.
  • Integrating the Principles into teaching: Instituto Superior de Educacion Administracion y Desarollo in Spain is taking a lead in a project involving the PRME Chapter Iberian, looking at indicators to implement Six Principles of PRME into business schools, including the Ten Principles of the Global Compact and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The University of New England in Australia annually monitors their courses to ensure that they address the social, governance and environmental objectives of the Global Compact.

Training for Global Compact Companies

Business schools are increasingly tapping into opportunities to work with Global Compact Local Networks and companies to provide needed training and raise awareness around the Global Compact Principles and their application. For example:

  • Training around specific issues for UNGC: Several years ago, Copenhagen Business School initiated a Board Programme with the UN Global Compact that aimed to support boards of directors to effectively oversee and help drive their company’s sustainability strategy. This is now part of the UN Global Compact offerings. In the UK, Aston Business School provides human rights training for companies through their Global Compact Local Network.
  • Assisting with the integration of the Global Compact generally: Since 2013, Universidad EAFIT and the Colombian multinational SAGEN have worked together on an initiative called “First Contact Pilot Programme” to promote sustainability under Global Compact parameters amongst ISAGEN suppliers. They also designed a Global Compact programme for Responsible Suppliers, a 10-hour programme focused on the Ten Principles of the Global Compact open to managers from companies in their Local Network. Registered participants received accreditation for participating.
  • Providing specialized diplomas: Externado University Management Faculty offers a diploma in Business and Human Rights, in collaboration with the local network, aimed at deepening participants’ understanding on human rights and their relationship to business. The university also invited small and medium sized companies to take part in their First Steps in CSR programme, also in partnership with the Global Compact Local Network. More than 250 SMEs have participated in this programme.

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Business and Business Schools Working Together at the Local Level (Part 1)

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 20.50.41Goal 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focuses on revitalising global partnerships for sustainable development. Two key stakeholders already working on issues relating to the SDGs are PRME and the United Nations Global Compact. Both groups operate as a network of networks, with local offices focusing on rooting both the Principles of PRME and of the Global Compact within different national, regional, cultural and linguistic contexts. Together they can have a significant influence at the local level.

In fact, business schools and companies are increasingly working together to further sustainability goals within different national contexts as well as facilitating outreach learning, policy dialogue and collective action. Partnerships between Global Compact Local Networks and PRME signatories have been, and increasingly will be, an important tool in moving the sustainable development agenda forward.

For the next couple of weeks we will feature a very small selection of some of the many ways that both works can work together.

Business Schools Working with Global Compact Offices Locally

Business schools are increasingly connecting with their Global Compact Local Network offices in a range of ways. The first is in assisting the Global Compact locally to be as effective as possible. For example, schools are involved in the following ways:

  •  Strengthening the operations of the Global Compact Local Network: A cross-disciplinary team of students from Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley (USA) engaged with the UN Global Compact Local Network in the US to refine the organization’s value proposition and expand its membership and partnership engagement levels. They also proposed a new funding mechanism, which was taken into consideration.
  • Assisting in preparing Communication on Progress Reports (Global Compact’s SIPs): The American University of Cairo provides a full day training session for students to qualify to assist the Global Compact’s participants in generating their Communication on Progress reports. In Canada, students at Ivey Business School worked with UN Global Compact LEAD companies to document their sustainability goals and progress in real time.
  • Maintaining an advisory role: ISAE/FGV plays an active role in the UN Global Compact Local Network in Brazil. The President of ISAE, Norman Arruda Filho, is also the Vice President of the Global Compact Brazilian Steering Committee. They coordinate the Education Group of the Global Compact Brazilian Committee and held a series of lectures to promote PRME and the Global Compact. ISAE was also involved in reviewing and redesigning the organizational structure and governance model of the UN Global Compact Local Network in Brazil, including researching Brazilian members’ perceptions of UN Global Compact Principles and how to improve the performance of the local committee. The American University of Cairo also sits on the UN Global Compact Egypt Board.
  • Actively participating: Business schools are encouraged to engage with their Global Compact Local Networks. For example, Sabanci University in Turkey is a member of the Global Compact Local Network Turkey Task Force on Women’s Empowerment Principles, which ties in well with their extensive programmes in this area. Universidad EAFIT, a leading member of the Global Compact Local Network Colombia, participated in a national working group on the UN Global Compact’s Anti Corruption Principle in collaboration with some of the largest companies in the country.

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2015 Good Practices in Responsible Management Education (Part 2)

It is once again time for PRiMEtime’s year-end review. 2015 was another exciting year with a lot of innovative new initiatives and approaches at business schools around the world to embedding responsible leadership and sustainability into their programmes. Sixty articles were posted featuring over 182 examples from more than 114 schools in 38 countries. In this 2-part year-end post we review what happened this year and what we have to look forward to next year. (Click here to view Part 1)

Principle 5Principle 5: Partnerships

A growing number of schools are partnering with local businesses to advance sustainability on campus and beyond. In fact, through a new project between Global Compact LEAD and PRME Champions many of these partnerships were highlighted this year including The American University in Cairo’s Women on Boards programme, the development of local sustainability networks by ESPAE, University of Guelph partnership around food, Novo School of Business and Economics’ partnership around children consumer behaviour and the University of Technology Sydney partnership around insurers role in sustainable growth. Additional resources were providing to assist schools in developing new partnerships including 5 Key Messages from Business to Business Schools Around Sustainability and 10 Tips.

Another feature focused on examples of schools engaging with local governments in Turkey, Brazil, Australia, US, UK and Latvia.

Principle 6Principle 6: Dialogue

Most of the examples presented through the year have also involved dialogue around responsible management topics, across the campus and beyond. As always, many posts featured Sharing Information on Progress Reports including an overview of the newly released Basic Guide to Sharing Information on Progress, as well as a two part series on visuals to get inspired by for your next SIP report.

A number of Sharing Information on Progress Reports were featured and celebrated this year including Reykjavik University’s first report, Ivey Business School’s experiences communicating the big picture through their SIP, the recipients of the Recognition of Sharing Information on Progress Reports were highlighted including KEDGE Business School.

Principle “7”: Organisational Practices

PRME signatories globally are increasingly active in creating more sustainable campuses. Coventry University shared their experiences in gaining sustainability accreditation in the UK. A two-part feature on sustainable buildings on campus highlighted a range of approaches being taken by schools around the world.

Last but not least, as businesses become more engaged in sustainability around the world, we are presented with an increasing range of examples of active companies to highlight in the classroom. Featured sustainable business examples collected from faculty in 2015 included:

Thank you for a fantastic 2015 and for contributing all of your good practice examples and stories. We encourage you to engage with the discussion and promotion of PRME and the Sustainable Development Agenda on all levels, including our Chapters and working Groups, as well as through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

2016 will be another exciting year in the field of management education and sustainability in particular through the Sustainable Development Goals and business-business school partnerships. If there are any topics in particular you would like to see covered, or you would like your initiatives to be featured, please do not hesitate to contact me at gweybrecht@thesustainablemba.com.

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