Impact Investing Series – 10 Ways Schools are Bringing Impact Investing to Campus

Tsinghua University Net Impact event on Impact Investing

This month PRiMEtime is focusing in on the important and increasingly popular topic of impact investing. So far we have looked at what impact investing is and summed up a range of resources on the topic and have looked in depth at the Social Finance Academy, a new programme coming from Smith School of Business at Queen’s University in Canada.

There are a number of ways that business schools are bringing impact investing to campus. Here we look at ten ways that business schools are specifically engaging students in impact investing on campus.

1. Events that bring impact investing actors onto campus to discuss the state of the industry: The University of St. Gallen in Switzerland organises an Impact Investing and Social Finance Conference. For its first three years the event was held in Sao Paulo and focused on Latin America, but has since moved to the St. Gallen campus in Switzerland. The event brings together impact investing practitioners to meet and discuss with students. The business school also offers students the course Impact Investing 2.0: Building the Impact Economy, a course focused on the fundamental context for impact investing and its requirements, that aims to train students to be able to spot impact investing opportunities.

2. Student engagement through clubs: The Net Impact Club at Tsinghua University in China organised a special session on impact investing for students, inviting experts and practitioners to campus to share their knowledge with students. The University has also recently partnered with UNDP and other leading universities to develop a research agenda around impact investing that will better leverage private investment to finance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This includes undertaking research to improve the analytical frameworks, evidence, and policy environment that encourage and guide commercial capital flows in support of the SDGs.

3. Funds for students to invest: The Haas Social Impact Fund at Haas School of Business University of California Berkeley is the largest of the student-managed socially-responsible investments funds with more than USD$2.5m of assets under management. Student fund managers are chosen yearly from the business programmes to evaluate investment opportunities by analysing traditional indicators of business quality and valuation metrics along with environmental, social, and governance policies and practices. Students that participate also have the opportunity to receive a certificate in Social Investing upon graduation.

4. Selecting MBA students to be Impact Investing Fellows: SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University’s Environmental Finance and Impact Investing Fellows Programme aims to train students for emerging opportunities at the intersection of sustainability and finance, including project finance that addresses climate change, ecosystem services, and poverty alleviation. Through a series of courses, coupled with applied projects, Fellows learn how to invest in, manage, or regulate businesses or projects seeking financial, environmental and social goals.

5. Engaging students in consulting projects with business: Duke Fuqua School of Business’s CASE i3 Fellows are selected second year MBA students who complete coursework in impact investing, support the centre’s research and operations, and complete a consulting project and apprenticeship. The fellows work with a broader set of CASE i3 Associates, often first year students, in teams for their Consulting Programme which pairs students with leading organisations on impact investing projects, including developing impact due diligence guidelines for investors, doing market analysis, and investment landscaping.

6. A selection of elective courses focused on impact investing: Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia in Canada offers a course on Impact Investing: Social Finance in the 21st This course provides an introduction to the impact investment sector. It describes the evolution of impact investment, the growth of new asset classes, and the opportunities and challenges faced
by investors seeking meaningful impact investment vehicles. Through a combination of readings, discussions, guest lectures, research, a pitch competition and a portfolio allocation project, students will gain deep insight into the different perspectives brought by the impact investor who is concerned with stimulating social and environmental impact while generating financial return.

7. Providing a regional focus: The Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town offers a course on impact investing in Africa aimed at wealth managers, consultants, funders, lawyers and other financial intermediaries looking to gain an understanding of the field. The workshop is (next sentence addresses them) led by a diverse group of leading experts in the field. They have also collaborated with the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford to create twelve teaching case studies on impact investment in Africa.

8. Creating MOOCs on impact investing: ESSEC offers a MOOC (‘Massive Open Online Course’ – a type of free online course) about impact investment available in French. The course explores what impact investing is, which companies are involved and what are they investing in, what kinds of solutions are proposed and the ingredients necessary to create a favourable impact investing ecosystem in the north and the south. The latest offering of the course started on September 25th, 2017.

9. Creating new courses aimed at an executive audience: The Fundamentals on Venture Philanthropy and Impact Investing  at ESADE Business & Law School is a new executive education programme aimed at providing managers with effective tools for a high-engagement approach to social investing and grant making across a range of industries. The course combines online learning materials with two days of face-to-face interaction at ESADE’s campus in Barcelona with leading lecturers and practitioners. The programme is taught jointly with the European Venture Philanthropy Association, a network of 2010 investment firms, banks, business schools and other organisations committed to creating positive societal impact.

10. Pushing Impact Investing forward through Research: The Impact Investing Lab at SDA Bocconi School of Management in Italy focuses on scalable business models that can create economic and social value through innovation in products, services, and processes. The lab acts as a platform and point of reference at a national and international level to support the development of impact investing as a new asset class able to attract public and private capital. It generates research, organises seminars and workshops, and contributes to the spread of a culture and a knowledge of impact investing.

Student Run Sustainability Events as part of the Core Curriculum – University of Greenwich Business School

Every year the University of Greenwich Business School hosts a full day conference in May which is themed, organised and delivered by the current cohort of full-time Executive MBA students. Unlike many other similar events at other business schools, this one is a key part of the students’ curriculum.

I spoke with Petros Ieromonachou, Head of Systems Management and Strategy and Director of Connected Cities Research Group at the University of Greenwich Business School in the UK, about this student led event.

What is the Executive Business Conference?

For the 13th year running, the University of Greenwich Executive MBA students held a Business Conference to present and discuss global issues/trends and current business topics. To come up with the business conference theme the MBA students brainstormed several ideas concerning today’s business environment. Topics such as sustainability, globalisation and technology frequently appeared as hot topics for discussion. Looking at recent changes in politics such as the proposed Brexit and the US elections, students realised that they are living in an uncertain world that is not easily predictable and changes are becoming more rapid. These changes bear opportunities and threats for businesses and are important considerations for Responsible Leadership. It was important to all MBA students that the business conference theme should evolve around these topics.

How is the event organised?

The event is completely organised by the current cohort of full-time Executive MBA students as well as those studying the second year part-time Executive MBA programme. The students appoint a conference committee, decide on the conference title and theme and organise all of the marketing and logistics over a three-month period. The students also invite and coordinate presenters for the conference as well as develop their own presentations around the topic to be delivered at the event.

How is the event embedded into the curriculum?

The University of Greenwich Business Conference is integrated into the MBA programme as a core component which serves to build on each student’s leadership and professional development. It is a side-event of the Leadership and Professional Development course. Apart from being part of the organising committee, all students in the programme need to present. Students are also expected to provide a written reflective report on their learning and professional development as a result of the experience which is graded.

Tell us about this year’s event

After much thinking, the Greenwich MBA students choose the theme “Shaping business opportunities in a world of uncertainty.” The business conference took place on March 11th 2017 at the University of Greenwich in London. Full and part time Greenwich MBA students as well as guest speakers from industry and academia presented. Keynote speeches were given by Professor Victor Newman – an Industrial Fellow at the University of Greenwich Business School, Chief Innovation Officer at the Milamber Group, and Innovation Adviser to Erisa together with Peter Bonish- Chairman of Kage Strategy.

MBA student presentations topics included: ‘The future of energy markets’, ‘Is there a sustainable future for small charities?’ ‘Is the future sharing?’ and ‘The future of solar energy in Saudi Arabia.’ Most of the MBA students presented a topic that was closely related to their professional career or a business they want to pursue. This gave students an opportunity to put together a professional presentation and present it to academics, professionals, and other students of the business school. Also, during the breaks and the networking event there were opportunities to receive feedback, giving the MBA students different ways of thinking about their business ideas and subjects.

How has the experience been received by the students?

One of the key skills needed by executives is ‘communication’. Together with ‘creativity’ and ‘project management’ the Business conference allows students the opportunity to showcase these abilities in front of a wide audience of business professionals and academics. Layla Mohammad, one of the MBA students reported: “By being a member of the conference committee who organised and co-ordinated the whole event, I watched the MBA students form their ideas, practice weekly and professionally present on the day. It was amazing to see how MBA students that started from thinking they could not put together an interesting topic or present confidently on their own, to delivering some of the most captivating and professionally delivered presentations I have ever experienced.”

Each year students remark on how they have developed as a result of this experience. Often, students remark “I now know what you meant at the induction when you said I would be a different person by the end of the MBA“.

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

Start early, hand over the responsibility for success to the students and provide continuous mentoring and support to help them realise their capacity and skills as well as future responsibilities in the ever-changing world of business.

What’s next for the initiative?

The department and programme leader are considering extending the business conference to other post graduate programmes and organising a faculty wide conference with different break-out sessions focusing on a variety of themes.

Universities Collaborating with Cities Around Sustainability – UWE Bristol

In 2015, the Bristol became the first city in the UK to achieve the honour of being named European Green Capital. The award is given to a different city yearly by the European Commission and aims to promote and reward sustainability initiatives in cities, to spur cities to commit to further action, and to showcase and encourage exchange of best practice among European cities.

UWE Bristol played a key role in the year, not only working closely with Bristol City Council and others in supporting the bidding process for the award, but also as a founding member of the city-wide Bristol Green Capital Partnership (now made up of 800 local organisations). The year provided an opportunity to weave sustainability into the curriculum, undertake focused research on sustainability and celebrate and get people thinking and inspire action for sustainability.

I recently spoke with Georgina Gough, James Longhurst and Svetlana Cicmil from UWE Bristol about the insitution’s engagement in progressing SDG11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities and their involvement in Bristol’s Green Capital year.

How is UWE Bristol engaged in the topic of sustainable cities?

UWE Bristol’s teaching and research mission explicitly supports the development of sustainable cities. We have a number of degree programmes and research centres located across the university academic portfolio that focus on this topic. A few examples include our

World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Healthy Environments which is part of the European Healthy Cities network, the Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments which aims to develop understanding of how to achieve places that are environmentally sustainable, socially just and economically competitive: the Centre for Transport and Society which aims to to improve and promote understanding of the inherent links between lifestyles and personal travel in the context of continuing social and technological change; and the Air Quality Management Resource Centre which is widely recognised by air quality and carbon management practitioners, nationally and internationally as a leader in this field. The Bristol Leadership and Change Centre is further internationally and locally recognised for developing leadership practices driven by the vision of sustainable cities and the global sustainability agenda

How was UWE Bristol involved in the European Green Capital in 2015?

Our campuses were buzzing in the Green Capital year. Social media channels were used extensively to connect students and staff and promote activities. Budget allocations encouraged engagement and innovative action from academic departments, professional services, the Centre for Performing Arts, the Students’ Union at UWE and others, embracing research, teaching, music, work in schools, volunteering, internships and extra curricular activities. Over 5,300 staff and students attended presentations/stalls specifically about Bristol Green Capital 2015 including 200 events either led, co-ordinated or facilitated by UWE. Over 3000 students engaged, volunteered, interned or undertook Green Capital projects. We had some 600 students sign up to be part of UWE Green Team working on student-led sustainability projects on campus. This is just a brief snapshot.

What was the Whole Earth Exhibition?

One of UWE’s busiest thoroughfares was transformed into an outdoor art gallery for The Whole Earth Exhibition, a powerful visual statement of the environmental and sustainability challenges facing the world as we struggle to provide for the needs of more than 10 billion people while safeguarding our planetary life-support systems and conserving the non-human lifeforms that make up those systems. The Hard Rain Project and the National Union of Students (NUS), who curated the Whole Earth exhibition, invited students and universities to share the sustainability work that they are doing and approaches they are taking that might underpin future security for all. Embedded in the exhibition were a series of challenges to the university sector. When UWE Bristol opened its Whole Earth Exhibition, the President of the Students’ Union at UWE formally requested that the university publically respond to the University Challenges presented in the exhibition.

What was the MOOC on ‘Our Green City’ and how did it come about?

Our Green City celebrated and showcased UWE academics and Bristol based sustainability organisations to develop public understanding of sustainability issues in Bristol’s year as European Green Capital 2015. Based on a free, open, online course format, c2000 learners signed-up to gain insight into themes of food, nature, energy, transport and resources through a range of video presentations, tasks, quizzes and community discussion forums.

Our Green City featured the work of 14 academics, 24 organisations including The Bristol Green Capital Partnership, Bristol 2015, Bristol City Council and the Department for Energy and Climate Change.

We have archived all the materials for future use, including by schools and will soon be creating a series of school engagement and outreach products from the learning materials that will form part of our BOXed project, an outreach programme of STEM related activities aimed at youth aged 11-18.

Did that year change the way the institution interacts and works with the community?

UWE is an initial funding partner of Bristol Green Capital Partnership (BGCP) and serves on the Board of Directors of this Community Interest Company. The 800 organisations who are part of BGCP work together in pursuit of the Partnership’s aim to develop a sustainable city with a high quality of life for all. The research activity of the university supports the work of the Partnership and current activities include Urban ID, a study diagnosing the sustainability issues and challenges in the city region. An innovative multinational Horizon 2020 project ClairCity is exploring solutions to air pollution in 6 cities including Bristol. UWE is actively engaged with and supports (with financial and in kind support via time of students and staff (including very senior staff)) the work of sustainability minded organisations and networks in the city (which in Bristol are many in number!).

What have been some of the challenges? Successes?

Delivering enough support, given the extremely high demand for knowledge, research and action, is a key challenge. Aligning the rhythm of the academic year to the needs of the city and its communities can also be challenging at times.

UWE’s activities to support Bristol Green Capital complemented those in and around the city and our commitment was recognised by key Green Capital players. UWE staff have produced a number of research papers and reports on the Green Capital year which are available in our Research Repository.

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

Consider the strengths of your institution and the needs of your potential partners in order to identify the most fruitful project partners. Have an open mind and willingness to work through challenging situations. Commitment to the objectives of the project by senior management is important in working through challenges. A diverse project team is useful for enabling action across the institution.

What’s next for the initiatives?

The Green Capital Student Capital project has formally ended. However, much legacy work continues. The project team continue to disseminate their experience via publications and conference presentations in order to support other HEIs to undertake similar projects. An online portal, SkillsBridge, has been established by the project team to facilitate the development of opportunities for students to support sustainability work of organisations in the city of Bristol. This work is being undertaken in conjunction with the Bristol Green Capital Partnership. UWE, Bristol’s sustainability work is ongoing, in accordance with commitments made in our Sustainability Plan.

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.

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.

 

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.

 

SDG4

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).

 

SDG5

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.

 

SDG6SDG7

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.

 

SDG8

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

Integrating the SDGs into the Business and Global Society Course – Hult International Business School

HultInt
In response to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), schools around the world are stepping up their activities, embedding the SDGs into their strategies and, most importantly, their curriculum. Last week we learnt more about how Hult International Business School and Ashridge Business School embedded the SDGs into their reporting. This week I spoke with Joanne Lawrence from Hult International Business School again to look specifically at how they integrated the SDGs into one of their core courses.

What is the Business and Global Society Course?

The Business and Global Society course is a required course in the MBA and EMBA programmes at Hult International Business School. Students are first introduced to the “big picture’ of macro-economics (e.g., movement of labor, capital and the role of government) and the global issues (risks, impact) such as those addressed at the World Economic Forum. Against this backdrop, the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact are introduced as a potential universal ‘code of conduct’ for business, along with the SDGs as potential opportunities. To address these global issues, the tools and skills that are interwoven into the course include analytical and systems thinking, stakeholder engagement, and collaboration.

Why introduce the SDGs in the course?

One of the basic questions in economics has been, why do the rich countries seem to get richer, and despite trillions in aid, the poor remain poor? And, as we move through the 21st century, the growing gap between rich and poor has been identified as one of the greatest threat to world security and prosperity.

If companies are going to continue to thrive, they are going to need skilled employees and educated consumers. The pursuit of the SDGs is not just morally right but economically essential.

The SDGs are about bringing the majority of the world—the ‘other’ 6 billion people – into the economy. Addressing the SDGs and business growth and economic stability are integrated.

To be good business leaders is going to require thinking more in systems – understanding how to think about unintended consequences of their actions, how to work more closely with governments, NGOs, and other non-business players.

Everything is interconnected. That is why macro-economics and the UN Global Compact’s Ten Principles intersect. To attract investment, governments need to crack down on bribery. To increase their labor force, companies need to help their employees develop skills. The roles between players are converging. Governments need business resources, business needs government’s access, both need the trust that NGOs bring.

What are some of the ways that the SDGs are incorporated into the course?

Students are asked to select one of the 17 Goals, then to slice it into a manageable chunk, and then ideally within a specific [geographic] place. They consider which industry/company might be appropriate to take the lead as the nodal organization. i.e., which firm makes sense? So, for example, if we look at access to education as a goal, and we think about the need that tech companies have for highly skilled workers in future, is there a way that tech companies can partner with governments to create programmes that build the skills they will need? And at the same time improve the incomes of these new workers, who then become consumers?

The idea is that fulfilling these goals is not about charity. It is about creating a healthier, more prosperous society through enabling people to improve themselves. The proposals need to make business sense. They need to engage the right players – business, government, NGOs and — create an eco-system that benefits each.

I am impressed every year with the creativity students exhibit, and how they get the ‘systems’ piece. We’ve had students addressing how to re-integrate FARC members into society through training; how to provide access to water through introduction of new systems; how to scale a local enterprise in Ghana building bikes of bamboo by partnering with a multi-national corporation; how to improve well-meaning projects of corporations like Coca-Cola to be more effective in rural communities… the list goes on!

Any challenges?

The biggest challenge – and the one I seek to be sure the students are getting –

is that this is not charity. Charity doesn’t work. This is about business partnering with governments, NGOs, etc.to create economic inclusion,which in the end benefits both. A prosperous, stable society is good for business, and business is good for creating that stability. In the end, whether you believe in the moral argument or not, it does make economic sense.

Successes?

Over the years, I have watched as doubting MBAs walk in wondering why they are being required to take a course called ‘Business and Global Society’ as a core course in a one-year MBA programme. It means Hult is saying this course is as important as Finance, Marketing, etc.

At the start of the course, I ask “What is the purpose of business?” Inevitably, they will say ‘to make money’. When I challenge them: but how? They are at a loss- they talk about lowering costs, etc.

At the end of the course, I ask again. Now I am getting different responses, more in line with what I hope they come to realize, i.e., in the end, the companies who make the most money and endure are the ones who serve society best.

It is very rewarding to see the shift, and it also speaks to this generation’s higher sense of purpose: they realize they can succeed by actually having a social impact. They do not have to choose. It is not either/ or, but and.

Are there other classes where students have the chance to explore the SDGs? For example your Social Innovation elective that worked with UNDP staff)?

I also teach Social Innovation as an elective, which takes the Business and Global Society course one step further. In the past two years, as part of this course, I have also worked with UNDP in several countries to identify a challenge, and ask the students to come up with some resolutions. Last year, students were challenged to come up with projects to help with the crisis in Yemen, such as how to engage women in creating social enterprises to generate income despite all the conflict surrounding them. The engagement with UNDP Yemen led to some students being asked to continue working with them to expand their ideas as well as me doing a seminar with young aspiring social entrepreneurs in Yemen via Skype.

Other projects include creating a business opportunity for women across the Arab States that would respect their cultural traditions of remaining in the home even as they allowed them to earn an income, or starting a business in Haiti that would generate jobs beyond tourism that would lead to more sustainable livelihoods. The student solutions were creative, respectful and linked players in ways that did create wealth-generating eco-systems.

Next steps?

Hult’s students are truly global—more than 120 countries represented. These students come from many of the countries where the SDGs are so critical. Our students are literally on the ground — they know what needs to happen.

For me, I’d like to provide them with the ability to implement their life changing ideas, perhaps by working with corporations specifically on the SDGs. Wouldn’t that be a great integration of Global Compact and PRME?

Advice for other schools thinking of doing something similar?

Do it! Business in the 21st century is not separate from the SDGS.

Business needs to address the risks the SDGs pose if not fulfilled. But there is also a huge opportunity for success by addressing them. We need to have the next generation of leaders focused on solving real problems for real people — not just product extensions for the privileged few, but products that work for the masses.

I believe that is the proper role of the business school: to develop global leaders of integrity, courage and purpose, who are capable of building organizations that solve problems plaguing society, improve livelihoods and lives.

In the end, that has always been the role of business: to solve problems that benefit society and move us forward.

 

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.

SDGSDG17

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