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.

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

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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.

 

Integrating the SDGs into PRME SIP Reports

SIPThe operational merger between Ashridge Business School and Hult International Business School gave the PRME teams at both schools an opportunity to come together and review their approach to PRME and sustainability, in particular, in light of the newly agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Part of this process was exploring a new approach to report their progress, taking the SDGs into consideration. The result is a unique approach that will surely provide a benchmark for other schools moving forward.

I recently spoke with Joanne Lawrence from Hult International Business School and Matthew Gitsham from Ashridge Business School about this innovative report.

What role do you think business schools play in the achievement of the SDGs?

We had a good look at the 17 SDGs and all the specific targets underneath them. We think the number one role for business schools to play is to contribute to Goal#4 Target#7 on education for sustainable development. There are also numerous other goals and targets that relate to subjects that should get more priority in business school curricula.

In addition, we believe business schools have four other necessary roles in the process to achieve the SDGs. One role is recruitment: who we recruit into our student body. There are several specific targets in Goal#4 on education that schools can focus on, such as eliminating gender disparities in access to education, ensuring equal access for those with disabilities and those from minority backgrounds and under-privileged backgrounds, and boosting access to education for those from Least Developed States, Small Island Developing States and African countries, as well across developing countries generally. Business schools can also contribute to advancing all the SDGs through their research programmes and research funding.

Through the way schools manage their campuses and operations, they can also make important contributions to goals on health, gender, climate, energy, water, biodiversity and issues like corruption and human rights. Lastly, business schools also have a valuable role they can in convening dialogue among business leaders and other organizations to advance the goals and foster partnerships.

The SDGs have given added impetus to our work on curriculum, research and campuses, and also greater guidance on best metrics to use to measure progress. Probably the area where the SDGs have had the most specific impact is encouraging us to think more systematically about the cohort mix, and how we ensure fair access to multiple groups.

How did you put your SIP together?

First, the team reviewed best practices and the latest guidance, requirements and expectations from accreditors and others, including the SIP Toolkit. On the SDGs, we found the Global Compact’s SDG Compass particularly helpful. Then, we created a template for the kind of information we were looking for and how we wanted to put it together. After, we reached out to different colleagues across the school to ask for help gathering all the different bits of data. The final part was analysing and assembling the data, pulling together the text and design, and getting feedback from colleagues on various drafts.

What parts of the report are you particularly proud of and why?

We’re particularly proud of the analysis of the Learning Objectives for each course on each of the different programmes. We all know that integration into the curriculum is a core objective, but hard to measure. The UK higher education regulator, QAA, published guidance in 2014 that encourages UK Higher Education Institutions to consider good practices to be explicit references to education for sustainable development across all courses in all programmes. Therefore, we did a review of all of our courses, looking for these explicit references, and have been able to publish a baseline from which to measure progress in further integration.

What were some of the challenges in putting the information together? Successes?

Many of the things we were trying to do had never been done in the schools before. Many of the questions had never been asked, and it wasn’t clear who was best placed to get their hands on different bits of data that we knew existed. Thus, tracking down data was a key challenge!

The report has provoked some really useful conversations. A draft of the report was taken to the academic board for discussion, and it has also been discussed as part of the agenda for the annual faculty summits held on each of our campuses. The data on learning objectives, cohort diversity, faculty publications and campuses has prompted productive conversations about doing things differently that weren’t happening previously.

What advice would you have for other schools thinking of doing something similar with their SIP?

Make sure you look at all the targets, not just the broader 17 goals, and work out which goals and targets are most sensible to focus on for your institution. You should integrate them into your work focusing on the Six Principles of PRME as well.

What’s next for Hult and the SDGs?

As one of our targets for the 2016-2018 report, we agreed to look more systematically at cohort diversity and the SDGs. We also agreed to establish new work on the SDGs and campus management across all our campuses. We have several research projects underway focused on business and the SDGs, as well as several classroom initiatives on the SDGs. We are in the process of creating a PRME section on our faculty websites where we will give examples of how faculty can integrate the Six Principles of PRME and the SDG into course objectives and content, a way of encouraging faculty ‘development’ on these subjects.

Click here to access the Hult/Ashridge SIP Report.

Adamawa Peacemakers Initiative and the American University of Nigeria

AUN

The American University of Nigeria sees its role as a “Development University.” It focuses on the traditional roles of repository and transmitter of culture and knowledge as well as the creation of new knowledge. But, it also focuses on the practical role that universities must play in the development of a nation. One such role is to promote peace in their region. I spoke with Dr. Vrajlal Sapovadia, Dean at the American University of Nigeria about their projects in this area.

What is the Adamawa Peacemakers Initiative and how did it come about?

The Adamawa Peacemakers Initiative (API) is non-profit, non-political organization working to foster unity, harmony and prosperity in Adamawa state. After a nationwide strike against the removal of fuel subsidies in 2012, AUN President Dr. Margee Ensign and then Chairman of the AUN Board, Ahmed Joda reached out to religious and community leaders of Yola to understand the sources of tension and find ways to defuse them and promote peace and stability. API members identify “vulnerable youth” in the community who are then offered training and support in a number of AUN funded and organized initiatives. As at-risk youth are frequently targeted and recruited by Boko Haram, API’s peace model focuses on bringing youth back into the fold, enhancing their tolerance across social, ethnic and cultural divides through sports and peace workshops, and preparing them for education and practical training programs.

Who is involved in the Initiative?

The Adamawa Peacemakers Initiative is a partnership that unites academic leaders of the University and religious and community leaders of API in the pursuit of peace and reconciliation. Members of API are drawn from religious groups, business and government across Adamawa State, including representatives of the Lamido of Adamawa, the Traditional Ruler of the Adamawa Emirate, the Society for Support of Islam, Christian Association of Nigeria, Inter-Faith Mediation Center, Muslim-Christian Forum, Muslim Council, Traders’ Associations, and the American University of Nigeria.

OurPeace work derives from the philosophy of the university that is to set itself as the first development university in the country where students are trained to understand and solve problems in accordance with their deepest values and beliefs, using interdisciplinary approach to education.” This philosophy commits the university to helping its community and society achieve equitable and sustainable prosperity, where all have the freedom and opportunity to pursue their dreams, based on respect for the traditions, religion and cultural heritage of the students.

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

API has a number of ongoing projects, including:

  • Peace through Sports: Recruiting marginalized youth to attend peace studies workshops and participate in soccer and volleyball tournaments in order to promote cross-cultural communication and understanding.
  • IT Training Programme for students from at-risk communities at the AUN’s African Center for Information and Communications Technology Training & Innovation
  • Entrepreneurship Training Program teaches students the basics of entrepreneurship, including financial literacy, market research, entity formation and proposal development
  • Grand Alliance for Employment coordinates and develops projects that will increase employment in the region, especially for the vulnerable

API has ongoing projects such as “The Peacemakers” television show, annually celebrated Peace Day, Peace Lecture Series, IT training and literacy programs, tutoring programs aimed at combatting high illiteracy rates in the state and a programme to motivate students towards science-related careers.

What have been some of the challenges?

One big challenge is local language. Few faculties know Hausa or Fulani. Local volunteers are used to translate key messages during conversation. Transport to interior part of the region is another challenge, particularly under security threats. The roads, electricity and telephone work also contributes to our challenges..

Successes?

The university has made a huge investment in information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure. It has one of the best data centre in the world. The programme leverages this excellent ICT infrastructure through a range of programmes aimed at providing ICT-based entrepreneurship training. Youth from the community take part in an 8-week free training course where they learn basic ICT skills and training to set up small businesses. So far, over 2000 youth have been trained through this programme. It also provides training principals and teachers in ICT. Likewise, over 100 teachers have been trained on how to use ICT in the classroom. We just recently completed a six-week literacy programme for staff (drivers, cleaners, gardeners) and members of the community identified through our poverty programmes.

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

The world is so big and problems are many. No one institute can cater to all the needs of the community. Any school can do what AUN is doing. We all need to be willing to learn from the experiences of others and willing to share our own. Everything is replicable. If we cannot eliminate poverty, literacy and environmental problems, at the very least we can reduce it and Universities and business schools play such a key role in this.

What’s next for the initiative?

We have several plans moving forward. We are looking at providing training and coaching of women entrepreneurs as they really have the potential to greatly contribute to the development of our communities. We are also looking into putting in place a programme to help commercialize local low cost innovations that often go unnoticed. We would also like to reach out more to small businesses in the community to identify problems that they have and work with teams of senior students to come up with possible solutions.

 

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