Tackling the Grand Challenge of Inequality – UNSW

UNSW Sydney in Australia aims to lead the debate and shape the public discourse on some of the most important issues facing humanity. The Grand Challenges Programme was established in order to facilitate these critical discussions, and in the process raise awareness of the ground-breaking research and excellent initiatives undertaken by UNSW academics, staff and students. Current Grand Challenge topics include Climate change, refugees and migrants and inequality. As part of our month featuring examples relating to inequality, in particular linked to the Sustainable Development Goals, I spoke with Prof Rosalind Dixon and Prof Richard Holden, the academic co-leads of the UNSW Grand Challenge on Inequality, to learn more about this platform.

Introduce the Grand Challenges Initiative and how it came about?

The UNSW Grand Challenges program was introduced under the leadership of the current President and Vice-Chancellor, Ian Jacobs. It aims to lead the debate and shape public discourse on the greatest issues facing humanity. Thought leaders from around the world come together with UNSW academics, staff and students to share their views and develop ideas on each declared challenge through public forums, speaking events, panel discussions, conferences and policy development workshops. UNSW will build on this platform for discussion and the development of ideas, with a view to fostering innovation and action on these pressing issues.

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

Income inequality has grown dramatically in both developed and developing economies – especially over the last three decades. This has been seen as a challenge to established political and economic structures, and a potential cause of rising political polarization. It is also a major contributor to increased poverty and economic deprivation. The UNSW Grand Challenge on Inequality seeks to better understand the intersection between income inequality and other sources of social and political inequality, including gender, race, ethnicity, age and disability, as well as the complex ways in which it impacts on access to basic human rights – including housing, education and health-care. As part of this the Grand Challenge program will seek to address the issue of income-inequality from a number of different angles – including economic causes, government solutions, government mitigation devices, globalized solutions, and private/corporate responsibilities.

What kind of research are UNSW faculty and students currently engaged in around the topic of inequality?

The overarching objective of each Grand Challenge is to complement and enhance existing work in the university around inequality by; making connections between researchers and different faculties, schools and centres; increasing publicity and awareness surrounding existing research; and spark and incubate and ideas on the part of staff and students, particularly policy-relevant ideas.

Prof Rosalind Dixon has been doing research on how Presidents tweak the rules to avoid leaving office and delivered a TedX style talk about the topic at one of the events. The Social Policy Research Centre does quite a bit of work on the disadvantage aspects of inequality. One of our events focused on Cities and Inequality involves the Cities Future Research Centre and their research on the topic. Professor Richard Holden is also doing significant research in this area including exploring “Network Capital” and inequality and also delivered a short presentation during the Grand Challenge about how to redistribute capital, mitigating inequality without killing productivity. This is only a snapshot but the list of events that are part of the Grand Challenge shows the range of research we are doing around this topic.

What kinds of events have been organised around the topic of inequality so far?

Launched in 2017, the Grand Challenge on Inequality has already hosted a number of engagement opportunities for UNSW staff, students and community. During semester one O-Week activities, the Grand Challenges team encouraged UNSW students to exploit their creativity and develop a web-based tool that directly challenges inequality as part of a 12hr hackathon. Students developed a range of novel ideas designed to address inequality, including a meet-up app designed to help match refugees with community volunteers, and system of electronic self-notification for indigenous people taken into custody.

That same week we hosted a giant book club, exploring Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-first Century in conversation with Peter van Onselen (Sky News) and Andrew Leigh MP. During the book club, and the following public forum, staff, students and partner organisations came together to share their thoughts on what the Grand Challenge on Inequality might address. Attendees were keen to see robust discussion on topics including Indigenous and gender inequality, housing affordability, education and superannuation reforms. These ideas have been taken into account in the planning for the future events of the Grand Challenge of Inequality.

International Women’s Day on March 8 was celebrated in partnership with Workplace Diversity at UNSW, where the Grand Challenges team hosted a breakfast with the theme #BeBoldForChange. The breakfast was attended by staff and students and highlighting the ground-breaking research and initiatives led by UNSW staff and students driving changes for women in our community. Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Minister for Education and Federal Opposition Spokesperson for Women, Tanya Plibersek, spoke in celebration of the achievements of women but implored the audience to keep fighting for gender equality in Australia. A range of other important speakers also shared their thoughts.

The Grand Challenge on Inequality has developed a suite of activities and events to support the concept. These activities will be added to as new opportunities and partnerships arise.

What have been some of the challenges?

Inequality is a very broad concept that touches on many aspects of people’s lives. Keeping the focus broad, but driving toward policy-relevant outcomes is one of the key challenges.

Successes?

Launched in July 2016, the Grand Challenges program has hosted a significant number of high-profile public events, conferences, seminars and workshops, where attendees share ideas and discuss the complexities of each of the Grand Challenge themes. The flagship event for the Grand Challenge Program, UNSOMNIA, was held on 1 December 2016. UNSOMNIA presented 13 UNSW thought leaders riffing on the theme “What keeps you up at night?” The TEDX style event attracted over 700 guests from UNSW and the broader community.

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

We thought it important to engage a wide group of people, bring leading figures onto campus, make events easily accessible (in terms of location but also combining with other popular and centrally located events – see Sydney Writers Festival below) and have a policy focus.

What’s next for the initiative?

We have a number of events coming up and are adding more. At the upcoming Sydney Writers’ Festival we will have a panel on globalisation and inequality in the age of Trump. See here for a full list of events planned so far through 2017 into 2018. You can also listen to many of the talks and presentations from our events here.

 

For the month of June Primetime will be featuring examples around the Special Focus area Equality and Diversity (SDG 10). Click here to see the rest of the articles in that feature.

A Students Initiated Consortium Engaging Refugees – Leeds School of Business

In 2015, 2,250 refugees and refugee eligible populations were resettled in Colorado with the majority coming from Burma, Bhutan, Somalia and Iraq. Colorado saw an additional 3,000 refugees arrive in 2016. This, as well as the Principles for Responsible Management Education Secretariats call to action to business schools and management-related Higher Education Institutions in response to the refugee crisis, prompted Colorado based Leeds School of Business in the USA to engage.

As we continue on with our special theme month focused on Diversity and Equality in Management Education, this week I spoke with Mark Meaney, Executive Director of the Center for Education on Social Responsibility at Leeds School of Business (and also a lead of the PRME North American Chapter) about their work in this area.

Why did Leeds answer the call?

At the Center for Education on Social Responsibility, we feel it is important that business schools assist in the integration of refugees into local economies. This makes sense both from the point of view of economic development and because it is the right thing to do. As to the former, studies have shown the extent to which refugees are entrepreneurial. As such, they contribute to economic development in local communities. As to the latter, Denver and Boulder are sanctuary cities with a commitment to maintaining an infrastructure that helps refugees in the integration into local communities.

How did Leeds respond?

Leeds answered the call because a group of students (CESR Fellows) wished to do something to address the global refugee crisis, to take action to try to diminish the suffering of people forced to flee conflict, and to work toward solutions for the widespread disruption.

I worked with the Fellows to assemble a consortium of stakeholders around the topic of refugee issues, including local, state and federal government officials, NGOs, business leaders from the Boulder/Denver business community, and regional business schools. Members of the consortium began to meet monthly in October of 2015. Over the course of several months, we reached consensus that the focus of our efforts in addressing refugee issues would be twofold: (1) to make connections among the various stakeholders in government, NGOs, businesses, and business schools in order to effect synergies in becoming more effective; and (2) to influence business schools in developing programming to meet the needs of refugees in assisting them in their integration into local economies. To these ends, we resolved to begin the process with a Regional Summit on Refugee Issues. We then continued to meet in planning the Summit.

What were the results of the Regional Summit on Refugee Issues?

On October 26th, experts from local, state and the federal government, NGOs, business leaders, and universities gathered at the University of Colorado at Boulder for the Regional Summit on Refugee Issues, to discuss the role of businesses and business  schools in integrating refugees into communities and local economies. By all accounts, the Summit was a smashing success.

The Summit succeeded in confirming the positive narrative that refugees do contribute to local economies. According to government officials and NGOs, studies demonstrate that refugees are much more likely to start new businesses that create wealth, employ local residents, and stimulate investment. Following upon this discussion, speakers and panelists also related that refugees also pay back their loans at higher rates than other disadvantaged populations.

CESR Fellows wanted to use the Summit to generate ideas about how stakeholders could work together to assist Colorado b-schools in assessing and meeting refugee higher education needs. We then reached consensus on how all stakeholders can partner with b-schools in mitigating the constraints that prevent refugees from integrating into local economies. We also accomplished precisely what we intended in joining federal, state and local government officials, leading NGOs, business leaders from the Denver/Boulder business community to work together with Colorado business schools.

What have been some of the challenges of engaging on these topics at Leeds? Successes?

As a result of the Summit, students and some faculty are now fully engaged in understanding the root causes of the refugee crisis. The challenge has been in engaging the administration and some faculty in embracing the HEI needs of refuges, and then in approving the development of programming to meet those needs.

Assembling the consortium is clearly one such success. Members have committed to continuing to work together to assist refugees in their integration into local economies. Another success is shown in relation to students from various regional b-schools who have fully committed to raising awareness of the plight of refugees among their peers. Effecting synergies among stakeholders who participated in the Summit must also count as a success. NGOs were able to place refugees as employees with employers who have a commitment to hire refugees, such as L&R Pallet and Knotty Tie. NGOs were also able to network with banks with a commitment to micro-finance and then help to secure loans for some of their refugee clients. Employers with an explicit policy to hire refugee are left feeling much more of a part of a larger community. They felt supported by other stakeholders. Finally, the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management at the University of Denver has developed a program to assist refugees in learning the culinary skills needed to work in restaurants and hotels.

How can business schools help on refugee issues?

Do not try to do this on your own. Take the time to cultivate relationships in the community in building a consortium of relevant stakeholders who can support one another in a variety of ways. Business schools can help in three ways: (1) develop    programing to meet the education needs of refugees, particularly in area of entrepreneurship; (2) support research among faculty that focuses on the truth about the root causes of the refugee crisis and on the ways in which refugees contribute to economic growth in local economies; and (3) encourage service work that brings faculty and students together with refugee populations so that they can learn about the plight of refugees.

What’s next?

To build on the success of the pilot at the University of Denver in demonstrating how programming that addresses the HEI needs of refugee populations can be cost effective for other business schools in the region. To continue to galvanize support on the CU Boulder campus among administrators, faculty and students in support of refugees. The CESR Fellows have continued to build on the momentum of the Summit in reaching out across the CU campus in support of various refugee student groups to demonstrate solidarity.

For the month of June Primetime will be featuring examples around the Special Focus area Equality and Diversity (SDG 10). Click here to see the rest of the articles in that feature.

Integration Programmes for Asylum Seekers – Hanken School of Economics

In September 2015, The Principles for Responsible Management Education Secretariat issued a call to action to business schools and management-related Higher Education Institutions in response to the refugee crisis. Over sixty million people have been displaced by conflict. Although the primary responsibility for peace rests with Governments, the urgency of the global refugee crisis is a challenge that requires support from all actors in society on a short-, mid- and long-term basis.

Business Schools have been stepping up, responding to this call to action with a range of new initiatives and programmes. At Hanken School of Economics in Finland, several new initiatives were put in place that target educated asylum seekers and immigrants including, but not limited to, the Business Lead Programme and a Finnish Business Culture course. As Nikodemus Solitander, Director of the Centre for Corporate Responsibility at Hanken puts it, “the issues pertaining to displaced people have been visible for a long time, if anything academia at large, including our own institution, has been slow to react. I would be interested to see what kind of institutions can say they are not affected by this.” I recently spoke with him to learn more about their initiatives in this space.

Why did Hanken choose to engage in this topic?

The way the question of integration of asylum seekers gained strategic priority at Hanken is very clearly traced to the e-mail we received from Jonas Haertle from the PRME Secretariat in September 2015 containing the “Call to Action – Mobilizing Academic Community Action in Response to the Refugee Crisis”. Of course, there had been informal talks about the situation and Hanken’s possibilities to contribute prior as well. Hanken hosts the Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Research Institute (HUMLOG Institute), which has at its aim“to research the area of humanitarian logistics in disaster preparedness, response and recovery with the intention of influencing future activities in a way that will provide measurable benefits to persons requiring assistance”. But in the Call for Action, we saw a possibility for an impetus, a strategic lever, to come up with something concrete and execute it.

What was the result?

In October 2015 Hanken formed a working group to think about possible action and to form a pledge in relation to the call, the most tangible outcome from this was to create a course, Finnish Business Culture, a 2-day live learning course that is geared towards a larger group of asylum seekers who have a high school diploma. The aim of that course was to provide the participants a general overview of factors influencing business operations in Finland (history, political, legal and economic systems, culture), in particular, the operations of companies.

At the same time, but separately Hanken & SSE Executive Education had triggered their own planning processes, largely inspired by ideas around corporate responsibility they got by visiting Slush, an international startup and investor event organized annually in Helsinki. They were able to develop and roll out the plans very quickly; it was rolled out in February 2016, and the programme started in June 2016. Hanken together with the Finnish mobile company Funzi is a partner in the programme, but all delivery and planning have been carried out by Hanken & SSE Executive Education.

What happens in the mes?

The aim of the Business Lead is an integration programme for educated asylum seekers, geared for creating value for both the asylum seekers themselves and for Finnish business in general. It is a joint venture between Hanken School of Economics and Stockholm School of Economics. The programme aims to introduce and integrate educated asylum seekers into Finnish working life. It consists of four live modules delivered over 7 days in total addressing the Finnish and European business landscape and organizational culture, strategic leadership, finance and sales and service mindset. The participants in the programme also had access to a mobile learning service developed by Funzi and will have the opportunity to take part in Entry Point Mentoring arranged by the Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce. The programme ends with a two-month internship in a Finnish company.

The Finnish Business Culture course is an intense two-day programme which focuses on business legislation, Finnish consumer behavior, marketing to Finns, Finnish negotiation style and management styles, and hands-on guidelines on how to establish a company in Finland.

What kind of interest was there?

The Business Lead Programme is targeted towards educated asylum seekers who already have a Higher education degree, speak fluent English and have been working within the business sector or have been an entrepreneur for at least two years. Candidates for the programme were identified through different stakeholders: service centres, Red Cross and Start-Up Refugees project. 64 asylum seekers (also some with resident status) applied to take part in the programme. Applications were received from candidates of 13 different nationalities, with the majority hailing from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia. Having fit programme criteria and gone through the application process, 38 (of which 6 were women) educated asylum seekers were offered a place in the programme.

The Finnish Business Culture course had 12 asylum seekers from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia and Eritrea. Most participants in the Business Lead Programme and Finnish Business Culture Course were well-educated with an engineering background – IT and Civil engineers, some also had accounting and business background.

What kind of interest are companies showing (for internships etc. or engaging in other ways?)

The initiative was well received and raised immense interest among companies in Finland. The programme partners in Business Lead, who offered internships as part of the programme, are Accenture, Agency Leroy, Ajatar, Amcham Finland, Camaleonte, Dazzle, Elisa, EY, Etera, Federation of Finnish Financial Services, Fennovoima, Fingrid, Finnish Red Cross Blood Service, Folksam, Fortum, Hanken & SSE Executive Education, HUMLOG / Hanken, IBM Finland, Iwa Labs, Juuriharja Consulting Group, Kallio Elementary School, Kone, Konecranes, Lumi Accessories, LähiTapiola, Microsoft, Miltton, Nokia, Ramirent, Roschier, Seedi, SOK, SOL Palvelut, Supercell, Elo, Valmet, Varma, Virala, Wapice, and Wärtsilä.

Upon completion of the programme and internships, around 25% of the asylum seekers who participated were offered employment or continuation of traineeship by various companies (as stated before) which had participated in the internship programme.

Do these students engage within the rest of the business school/other programmes?

Not much to be honest. My personal opinion is that I think several people attached to this have had a wake-up call about the ‘realpolitik’ of ventures that are not historically planned to be attached to the curriculum or initiatives that can be seen to be innovative and different. I think it is evident that there are possibilities for great journeys of learning between the student populations. But, amidst this critique it needs to be said that unlike most other institutions at least the structural barriers were low enough to execute the idea, and I think everyone involved should feel very proud of the venture insofar!

What other projects is Hanken working on?

Hanken has been working on some collaborative projects along with PRME Champions group and locally at the Nordic level, most notably being the Nordic Ph.D. course and the upcoming 5th CR3+ conference.

 

For the month of June Primetime will be featuring examples around the Special Focus area Equality and Diversity (SDG 10). Click here to see the rest of the articles in that feature.

 

United for Refugees – JAMK University of Applied Sciences

image003Support for the continuing education of newcomers is quite broad in Finland, and as a university there is always the consideration for exactly how to support educational needs of asylum seekers and other newcomers at a university level, many of whom arrive with extensive professional experience and are highly educated. In response to this, students and staff at the School of Business at JAMK University of Applied Sciences organized the JAMK United for Refugees project in September 2015. The project is based in a cross-cultural management course where teachers and students develop their own approaches and solutions to supporting the present and future multicultural Finnish society. In response to this, Steven Crawford, a senior lecturer at the School of Business, decided to integrate asylum seekers into the classroom through the Open University system as credit earning students to share their stories and contribute to the course, and to connect students and staff directly to the refugee crisis. I spoke with Steven about this successful and scalable project.

What is United for Refugees?

The JAMK United for Refugees project began at the start of the fall semester of 2015 at JAMK University of Applied Sciences in Jyväskylä, Finland. The refugee crisis was quite prominent in the media then, as it still is, and I initially thought we might “pack a van” with personal sorts of supplies and head to Greece, where refugees were landing in large numbers on beaches. However, when we examined the idea more closely the reality set in that we were too far away from Greece. So my colleague Ronan Browne and I brought the idea of a refugee support project into a cross-cultural management course as a “local response” to the crisis, and offered it to the students as a potential project. They universally embraced the project idea and the development process started from there and is now (fall 2016) in its third semester.

How does it work?

A key feature of the project is that it forms a framework for the cross-cultural management course in which the underlying pedagogical approaches include experiential learning, meaning-centred education, and transformative adult learning. We activated students by giving them a stakeholder role, organized them into distinct task-oriented groups, and gave them the power to make their own decisions about what sorts of activities they would develop and execute. For the initial fall 2015 project semester, the students designed and executed a campus-wide awareness campaign that included and engaged numerous other stakeholders in our community, including asylum seekers. In spring 2016 the project continued in a more directed way so that we could develop a more tangible response to the crisis in the form of an educational game. Now the first version of that game is complete and we are moving into a phase in which we promote the product across Finland and support users, while also training students to facilitate game play.

What have been some of the interesting experiences so far?

At this point over two-hundred students, teachers, administrators and other stakeholders have participated in our project. Many of them have been affected in some significant positive way through their contributions and participation. Two of our asylum seeking students from the spring 2016 semester are now Open University track master’s students, thus proving that education as a path to integration is a primary means through which both newcomers and hosts benefit. Presently, in this fall 2016 semester, among our nine registered asylum-seeking students I believe that most if not all of them have had their residency applications rejected by the Finnish state. And still they press forward their desire to reside in Finland permanently. Our project of course is not involved in the political processes that produce these decisions, which presently lean toward residency application rejection. And so during each phase of our project there are very compelling personal and social situations both above and below the surface. I am concerned at the moment about one Iraqi lawyer from our 2016 spring semester. She lost the immediate male members of her family and brought her eight children to Finland. All children of asylum seekers in Finland attend school, and her children did also. But I have lost track of her now, so I wonder what her status is and how things will turn out for her and her children. This woman brought discussion into our course about the situation and roles of women in Iraqi society, and the resulting dialogue was compelling and constructive for all of our students.

What have been some of the challenges? 

In my view biggest opportunity is to positively affect the attitudes of Finnish people, those who comprise the dominant group that is the “host,” and who control the processes and outcomes of the asylum seeking system. As is the case in most European nations a sizable part of our host population feels threatened by the refugee crisis and its potential for changing things at home. On the other hand, many Finnish citizens see the very positive potential that diversity brings to societies in the global age. There is tension between these two perspectives, and so we seek to learn about and address the needs and concerns of all Finnish inhabitants about their future together.

In our project course the working language is English, and so all of the course students must have at least a conversational level of English. Thus there have been a few prospective refugee students who were not able to join the course but were able to find some kind of education opportunity elsewhere in our city that they could participate in. There is also the question of student assessment, and in this case I chose to employ the option of either a pass/fail grade or a numeric grade. If a student participates fully in classroom, groupwork and development activities I am comfortable in giving them a “pass” grade. If he or she also completes the “academic” requirements, which includes for example reflective essay-based assessments, I have the option of giving them a numeric grade. Sometimes our expectations, norms and “rules” must bend a bit to fit the urgency of a given situation. At least it is my view that educators have a distinct social responsibility to engage and work with these newcomers, and this may require us to change our practices.

Successes? 

All of our asylum-seeking students who participate fully earn university credits at a Finnish university. Perhaps this is not the first idea that comes to one’s mind when thinking about asyslum seekers. Two of our spring 2016 asylum seeking students received permanent residency status and are now taking Open University master’s-level courses. That is enough in my view to conclude that the project is successful. Beyond that, I sense that we have a positive impact across our community in terms of helping Finland to manage its part of the global refugee crisis and to provide unique and particularly socially relevant educational opportunities to the school’s more “traditional” sorts of students such as our Finnish and international degree students, and also our international exchange students. From a pedagogical perspective, the project has provided us with an excellent framework for a course that sets out to help student learn how to manage through cultures, including the approaches needed to activate experiential learning, meaning-centred education, and transformative adult learning. Overall, taking a community-wide stakeholder approach has allowed us to engage a wide range of participants while moving from a local to a national response to the crisis.

 

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

There are many criteria that need to be addressed for a project such as JAMK United for Refugees to form and progress. First, the organizing teachers need support from the highest levels of the school. Our project also has a strong management team which now includes three teachers and quite purposefully includes students, some of whom are earning thesis, internship and project studies credits through their management level particpation. In this way multiple educational agendas converge to form and drive the project.

Bringing the project into a course may support both specfic course and curricular program-level intended learning outcomes. I suggest that a stakeholder analysis be conducted at the start in order to identify those who may be served and those who might help. After that, the students should be empowered through ownership to make the project happen. Engaging outside partners and stakeholders in the project is also essential.

I would conclude this section by pointing out that at JAMK University of Applied Sciences there is a distinct emphasis on projects and practical “hands-on” learning. And so this particular project fits quite nicely for us and also makes the project realizable based on our limited resources.

What’s next for the initiative?

We are presently rolling out our base training product, diversophy® New Horizons, across Finland to teachers and trainers, and our fall semester students are creating additional game content that focuses more specifically on certain topics, such as youth culture, sports, and employability & entrepreneurship. As part of the cross-cultural management course we are training our students how to facilitate our game in multicultural contexts. We are interested in youth culture because we know that Finnish law requires that all children, including newcomers, go to school. And so we know that there is a lot of interaction every day between dissimilar others in schools. We are interested in sports because, I suppose, Finland is a very healthy and sports conscious society. And we are interested in improving the receptivity of Finnish employers to newcomers, and to help newcomers acquire the insider’s perspectives needed to advance their career and business goals as contributors to Finland’s society. There is plenty left to do!

For information about the project visit the JAMK United for Refugees Facebook page.

For information about the the game, visit diversophy® New Horizons.

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Sustainable Business Examples from Around the World – Hong Kong, Kenya, and Canada

img_4721As 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 Kenya, Hong Kong, and Canada.

Jessica Vaghi, E4Impact Foundation, ALTIS Postgraduate School of Business and Society, Italy (examples from Kenya)

Continental Renewable Energy (Corec) is a Kenyan based company that recycles waste plastic into eco-friendly building material and sell the hardware to developers whose problem is high material cost by providing affordable and durable construction products. It prevented 700 tons of waste from landfills, made 26,000 posts and signed orders over 10.000 roofing tiles by customers across Kenya in 2 years of operations.

Stamp Investment is a Kenyan enterprise that distributes briquettes and multitasking fuel efficient stoves, which enables schools and households to have access to safe drinking water with a reduction of 75 % in water borne diseases. The business won the Grand Challenges Africa “pitching your innovation” competition in 2016 and has been national winner of the most innovative business idea during Enablis Chase bank, ILO business launch pad competition in 2011.

NUCAFE – National Union of Coffee Agribusiness and Farm Enterprises is a sustainable market-driven system of coffee farmer organisations empowered to increase their household incomes through enhanced entrepreneurship and innovation in 19 districts of Uganda. NUCAFE Contributed in influencing the development of a National Coffee Policy and to improve gender relations among coffee farming households and was nominated by AGRA best Africa farmer organisation of 2013 in income diversity category.

Click here for more information about E4Impact Foundation and their work in Kenya.

Pamsy Hui, Hong Kong Polytechnic University Faculty of Business, Hong Kong

It is often a misconception that interesting work in the field of sustainability can only be done by companies with a lot of resources.  In Hong Kong, many small and medium enterprises are doing very interesting things with limited resources.  For instance, Diving Adventure Ltd., a company providing training services and products related to scuba diving, has always put the environment in the forefront of its business decisions.  They regularly collaborate with NGOs, the government, and other organisations on environment protection initiatives (e.g., underwater cleansing activities, reef check).  What is impressive is that for such a small operation, they go far beyond just caring about environmental sustainability.  They are also committed to create employment opportunities to minority groups, released prisoners, and reformed drug users, to help integrate them into the society.  On the service side, they regularly provide training to underprivileged children and individuals with disabilities, providing a sense of inclusiveness for people who are often overlooked, if not discriminated, by the society.

Another example is Baby-Kingdom.com, a parental online forum for parents to share information and experiences related to bringing up children.  In addition to donating to NGOs, they help NGOs advertise on their forum, bringing awareness among their large number of users. They set up the Baby Kingdom Environmental Protection Education Fund in 2008 to support programmes in primary schools to educate school children on concepts such as greenhouse gas reduction and green diet.  Consistent with its family-friendly image, Baby-Kingdom.com started family-friendly practices well before they became a trend in large corporations.  The well-being of children is central to its human resource practices, and the company is often recognised for being a socially responsible employer.

A third example of a company doing interesting things related to sustainability is 4M Industrial Development Limited, a toy design company specialising in educational toys.  In designing their products, 4M consciously favors sustainable materials and supply chains with lower carbon footprints.  In addition, 4M partners with NGOs in multiple ways.  With the Spastics Association of Hong Kong, they adapt part of their manufacturing process to support the disabled.  It also works with different NGOs to promote their causes.  Many of 4M’s products have a green message behind them (e.g., Paper Recycling Kit, Trash Robot Kit).  For each box of the Clean Water Science Kit, for example, 4M donates a portion of its profits to NGOs to fund water-purifying projects in the third world.  Meanwhile, children buying the kit would get a message about the project in the box.

Click here to read about the Interdisciplinary Wellness Clinic at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Deborah De Lange, Ryerson University, Canada

Our Horizon is a national not-for-profit organization led by Robert Shirkey that works with governments to require climate change labels on gas pumps. The idea is a low-cost, globally scalable intervention to communicate the hidden costs of fossil fuels to end users and drive change upstream.

ZooShare is a biogas plant led by Daniel Bida that turns animal waste from the Toronto Zoo and food waste from grocery stores into fertilizer and renwable power for the Ontario grid. The process aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10,000 tonnes of C02 each year. The biogas plant is starting construction now and will be operational in the summer of 2017.

Purpose Capital is an impact advisory firm that mobilises all forms of capital – financial, physical, human and social – to accelerate social progress. Alex Kjorven is the Director of Corporate Development and is a graduate student in the EnSciMan programme at Ryerson.

Click here to learn more about the interdisciplinary EnSciMan programme at Ryerson University.

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How the Social Impact Festival at University of Western Australia Supports Global and Local Progress

img_7254-smlThe Sustainable Development Goals help us consider everything – from one person, to the university, to our cities – in a global context. They provide a robust yet accessible framework for learning about global progress. This is the focus of the work being done at the Centre for Social Impact at the University of Western Australia. Among their many programmes is their annual Social Impact Festival, an opportunity to bring together individuals and organisations who are deeply committed to making Western Australia a better place.

I spoke with Claire Stokes from the Centre for Social Impact at the University of Western Australia about this increasingly successful event.

What is the Social Impact Festival?

The Centre for Social Impact at The University of Western Australia (UWA) hosted the first Social Impact Festival in May 2015 – we call this ‘prototype 1’. It saw over 1,000 people attending events on the UWA Crawley campus focused on furthering social impact. When 2016 began, the team at the Centre for Social Impact UWA decided to take the festival into ‘prototype 2’ in July 2016. Katie Stubley (the other co-director) and myself started with a purpose and designed the event to fulfill that purpose. This included three primary aims: share and diffuse cutting-edge knowledge; strengthen and connect social impact networks; and increase our capacity to make WA better for all. We also identified many people, ideas, organisations and networks that have been deeply committed to making WA a more just, vibrant and better place for all. So a key element of the festival was bringing stories of social impact in WA to the surface to be celebrated and amplified.

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

The concept of ‘social impact’ is so broad that we knew a regular conference format would not work. To see real change, we knew we had to reach audiences beyond those who had previously engaged with the Centre and in a variety of settings. The format was based roughly on a ‘fringe festival’: a diverse range of small, low-cost, and engaging events in a variety of venues so attendees could ‘create their own adventure’.

We turned to our postgraduate course – the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact – for a framework which gave us the following themes for the four key days of the festival:

  • Creating social impact: entrepreneurship, innovation & design
  • Demonstrating social impact: research, measurement & evaluation
  • Funding social impact: investment, philanthropy & ethical consumerism
  • Leading social impact: organisation, collaboration & systems

As a whole, the festival featured 34 events over 7 days in 16 venues around Perth. Individual event prices ranged from $0 to $30 and 15 events were free. More than 150 people and organisations contributed to the festival programme (including speakers, workshop facilitators, co-working space hosts, artists, performers, open house venues, and market stall-holders). Through the interactive ‘Stories from the Field’ events (21, 22, 26 & 27 July), 68 individual stories of social impact were shared. Twenty local ethical businesses featured in the Marketplace & Ethical Fashion Show (23 July), and 10 spaces and organisations featured on Social Impact Open House day (25 July).

What are/were your favourite parts of the festival?

Pitching events are always interesting, as they provide opportunities for real people and organisations to take action, as well as the chance to learn about investing and the local landscape. The Impact Seed Pitch Night on 26 July was no exception. Run by a new Perth-based organisation, Impact Seed, the event saw five investable social businesses pitch for investment to a packed auditorium of 120 people. It also featured a highly engaging keynote address from Bessi Graham (The Difference Incubator, Melbourne). Graham also sat on the judging panel with Paul Flatau (Centre for Social Impact UWA), Derek Gerrard (Innovation Bay), and Paul Bide (School for Social Entrepreneurs).

Two other standout events were the Festival Opening and Marketplace & Ethical Fashion Show. The Opening was a directed performance, mixing inspiring speech from Michael Chaney, Cassandra Goldie and Noel Nannup together with music, poetry, song and dance. The Marketplace & Ethical Fashion show held an atmostphere that was absolutely perfect for what we were trying to achieve. There was a modest amount of stalls – 20 in total – but every single person involved demonstrated deep passion and commitment to their cause. This also extended to an excitement in celebrating and helping each other on the day. Businesses represented included social enterprises, fair trade homewares, organic kombucha and tea, eco-garden services, ethical fashion, Aboriginal enterprises, and more. An estimated 300+ people attended the event and all stallholders reported they sold more than expected.

Although not an event, the ongoing co-working and collaboration space was another highlight. This provided ample opportunity for attendees of events throughout the festival to come early or stay afterwards to simply work, or meet other like-minded people and make new connections. The hosts of this space, Perth-based social innovators enkel, also ensured users of the space made the most of it by engaging with interesting activities such as mindfulness, story-telling, and more.

What impact does the festival aim to have/ already have?

We have already observed and heard about the immediate impact of the Festival. For instance, as one of the key aims was connecting people across sectors we were delighted to hear that almost 70% of attendees said they made new connections they intend to follow up with (or already have). That does not even take into account the connections made across the 150 contributors. We have also heard of some changes, or actions taken based on transformative experiences. For example, 26% of attendees to seek out formal education or training in fields linked to social impact. One person reported they have already chaired a board meeting and presented information from the Festival, leading the Board to review the organisation’s mission, objectives, strategies and how we can better measure our social impact.

Anecdotally, we have heard of many new connections and collaborations around Perth that resulted from the Festival, while other connections have strengthened or formalised. This is exactly the kind of impact we intended to create.

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

Design with a purpose. That was the single-most important aspect of the festival and it resulted in an event that was not only successful in terms of numbers and engagement, but in the immediate impact it had, leaving everyone involved with the optimism and drive to create positive change.

What’s next?

We are synthesizing the huge amount of information that was drawn out during the festival – in the form of stories, ideas, presentations and feedback. Many of the resources presented or created throughout the festival can be found here: http://www.socialimpactfestival.org/resources/

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A Selection of MOOCs on Sustainability/Ethics for Fall 2016 (Part 1)

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Every year there is an increase in the number of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) available on sustainability topics. These courses are available for free online and open to anyone with an interest in the topic, lasting between three and fourteen weeks and taking three to eight hours per week to complete. Below is a selection of such courses offered this Fall 2016, listed by topic, from PRME as well as some non-signatory schools. The first part focuses on courses that relate to some of the Sustainable Development Goals.

1 No Poverty

Challenging Wealth and Income Inequalities: This course explores the concerns about rising generational and economic inequality in developed countries. From the Open University – starts October 3.

Hierarchy in Property Rights: This course looks at how language can help us to develop our relationship with nature and determine the rights of access and ownership. From University of Leeds – starts October 17.

Subsistence Marketplaces: This course looks at bottom-up understandings of the intersection of poverty and the marketplace. From University of Illinois – starts August 29.

2 Zero Hunger

Global Food Security: Addressing the Challenges: This course introduces the issue of food security, specifically how do we feed an extra two billion people by the middle of the century, with a focus on UK agriculture and on food supply chains in other parts of the world. From Lancaster University – starts August 29.

Agriculture and the World We Live in: This course looks at the world’s population and the crucial role of agriculture in feeding the steadily increasing number of people. From Massey University – started August 9.

3 Good Health and Well Being

Strategies for Successful Ageing: This course explores how we can stay happy, healthy, socially-connected and active as we age. From Trinity College Dublin – starts September 26.

Food as Medicine: This course explores the role of food in health and how to apply nutrition science to guide you on using food as medicine for you and your family. Monash University – starts October 24.

Identifying Food Fraud: This course provides an introduction to modern analytical science techniques and how they can be used to uncover food fraud. From University of East Anglia – starts October 24.

4 Quality Education

Education for All: Disability, Diversity and Inclusion: This course is about how inclusive education can work, especially where resources are limited. From University of Cape Town – starts September 19.

Teaching for Change: an African Philosophical Approach: This course explores teaching and learning in an African context and learn about cultivating pedagogical encounters in relation to Africa. From Stellenbosch University – starts September 19.

7 Affordable and Clean Energy

Elements of Renewable Energy: This course explores renewable energy using the four Greek elements as core theme – power derived from earth, from air, from fire and from water. From The Open University – starts September 5.

Fundamentals of Global Energy Business: This course looks at the diverse and integrated markets for primary energy, and the essential considerations driving business leaders and policy makers in development of global energy resources. From University of Colorado – started August 15.

Our Energy Future: This course introduces students to the issues of energy in the 21st century including food and fuels, as well as energy production and utilization. From University of California – starts September 5.

11 Sustainable Cities and Communities

Re-enchanting the City: Designing the Human Habitat: This course is an introduction to the interdisciplinary nature of city making looking at the interdependencies of the professions at play; urban design, architecture, construction management, planning, landscape architecture and design. UNSW Australia – starts September 5.

Smart Cities: This course explores the role of technology and data in cities and how these can be used to deal with challenges such as rapid urbanisation, climate change and inequality that cities are increasingly facing. From The Open University – starts September 26.

Indigenous Studies – Australia and New Zealand: This course looks at the distinctive stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia and Maori people in Antearoa New Zealand. From Massey University and University of Tasmania – started August 9th.

Designing Cities: This course looks at how cities have evolved, how shape a more sustainable city. From University of Pennsylvania – starts September 5.

Greening the Economy-Sustainable Cities: This course explores sustainable cities as engines for greening the economy. From Lund University – started August 8.

12 Responsible Consumption and Production

Making Sense of Health Evidence – The Informed Consumer: This course helps consumers to understand whether health evidence is likely to be reliable or not. From Cardiff University – starts September 26.

Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime: This course looks into the seedy underbelly of the art world, looking at smuggling, theft, fakes, and fraud. From University of Glasgow – starts October 3.

The E-Waste Challenge: This course looks at what e-waste is and why it is the challenge of our century and how we can turn this challenge into an opportunity. From UNEP and KU Leuven – starts September 1

13 Climate Action

Causes of Climate Change: This course provides the basis for understanding the underlying physical processes governing climate variation in the past, present and future – University of Bergen – starts September 5.

Climate Justice – Lessons from the Global South: This course builds an understanding for how we can balance human needs with caring for the planet. From UNESCO – starts November 14.

Climate Change: This course looks at the biggest global challenge the human race has ever faced, our insatiable demand for energy and how it is changing our atmosphere and our climate. From Macquarie University – started August 8.

Making Sense of Climate Science Denial: This course looks at the social and psychological drivers of climate science denial and how to effective debunk climate misinformation. From University of Queensland – started August 9.

14 Life Below Water

Exploring Our Oceans: This course explores the half of our world covered by deep ocean and how our lives affect the hidden face of our planet. From University of Southampton – starts October 10.

Contemporary Issues in Ocean Governance: This course considers the nature of how the world’s oceans are regulated, how this has evolved through time and how it actually works. From University of Wollongong – started August 8.

15 Life on Land

Environmental Challenges: Justice in Natural Resource Management: This course explores three basic principles when considering natural resource management: the principles of justice, transaction costs, and the problem of aggregating social preferences. From University of Leeds – starts September 5.

Introduction to Ecosystems: This course looks at the natural world, how the web of life works with illustrations from around the world. From The Open University – starts October 24.

16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Environmental Challenges: Rights and Values in Ecosystem Services: This course explores how differences in values can create conflict and how we can learn to manage our natural resources with integrity. From University of Leeds – starts September 5.

Ending Slavery – Strategies for Contemporary Global Abolition: This course looks at the 45.8 million slaves alive today and how we might achieve a slavery-free world. From University of Nottingham – starts October 17.

Corporate Lawyers – Ethics, Regulation and Purpose: This course explores the role and purpose of corporate lawyers, examining how they are regulated and the ethical challenges they face. From University of Birmingham – starts November 7.

17 Partnerships for the goals

Global Systems Science and Policy: This course looks at how Global System Science can inform and model the impact of social, economic, political and environmental policy making including citizen engagement. From UNESCO – starts September 5.

Earth Observation from Space: The Optical View: Discover how optical Earth observation data is gathered and used, for example, to monitor changes to our climate, and natural and build environment. From the European Space Agency – starts September 12.

Have we missed any? Email to be added to the list.

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