Impact Investing in the African Context – University of Cape Town

 

This past month, PRiMEtime has featured a number of programmes from universities around the world focused on impact investing. We finish off the series with an example from South Africa, from the University of Cape Town. There one faculty member has created a special one week intensive course focused on impact investing in the African context. I spoke with Aunnie Patton Power from the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation at the University of Cape Town about their initiatives in this space.

What is happening in Impact Investing in South Africa?

Impact investing on the continent is certainly growing.  It has been dominated by international funds in the past, but we are starting to see the emergence of funds based on the continent looking to deploy funds.  There is a lot of opportunity for local funds to partner with international funds to bring down costs around due diligence and ensure better local knowledge. According to the Global Impact Investing Network, sub-Saharan Africa makes up 22% of global impact enterprises.

How is the University of Cape Town exploring the topic?

One of the ways that we are looking at impact investing is through a course we have called Impact Investing in Africa, which is running for the third time this year. I created this course after I worked on the Oxford Impact Investing Program and saw the need for an African based course to help unlock capital on the continent towards impact.

The course takes place over 5 days. It is designed for a wide range of individuals including wealth managers, consultants, funders, lawyers and other financial intermediaries. We start with the landscape, language and themes of impact and then move on to how to find and evaluate deals and funds and how to measure impact.  We then look at portfolio construction and innovative financing structures as well as how to build strategies with clients and within institutions and the ins and outs of starting a fund.  Finally, we do a site visit to local enterprises that have received impact investment and are at the scale stage as well as visiting a set of incubators to spend time discussing the very early deal stage and what is needed.

Are there any resources on Impact Investing specific to the African context?

We have also been working on a number of case studies focused on impact investment in Africa. When we started there were almost no cases on the topic. It took us nearly a year and resulted in 14 cases (we’ve since developed 5 more).  I worked with an exceptional case writer and even roped in a few students.  The cases feature eighteen impact enterprises and sixteen funds from eleven countries across the continent and are shared in partnership with the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. One of our cases won the 2016 CEEMAN case writing competition.  The cases are now used in our course and across the globe in dozens of other institutions.

The Bertha Centre for Social Innovation has an Innovative Financing Initiative that does projects with funders around the globe, convenes events and gathering, conducts research and enables teaching across the entirety of UCT.  We teach Impact Investing / Innovative Finance across all of our programs as either an elective or a core course.

What have been some of your successes?

It’s been so incredible to watch our alumni from the past two courses.  They’ve gone on to start their own funds and start funds within foundations and banks and development organizations.  They’ve also put impact investment practices into place at large institutions such as consulting firms, law firms and real estate practices.  One of the things that I’ve enjoyed is seeing how they support one another as an alumni group.  Several alums with significant experience now sit on the board of younger alums’ funds and organizations.  We also get a lot of new students through our alumni. We also see a large demand from international development organizations and non-profits keen to be involved as investors to ensure better sustainability for themselves and their underlying projects.

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

Spend a significant amount of time getting your curriculum and your mix of speakers correct.  There needs to be one strong convenor pulling the whole thing together that understands how the content should flow and how to tie it all together.  There are more and more options for curriculum available, so you don’t need to create your own, but you do need to create a cohesive, comprehensive experience for your students.

What’s next for the initiative?

We are holding our 3rd course from the 13th – 17th of November 2017.  We have 40 participants signed up from 15 countries.  I’m very excited about the participants this year.  I think we will always cap it at 40 as I don’t want it to get too large and take away from the experience, but it is amazing to grow the alumni base.

Fostering Discussions around Impact Investing Internally and Externally – Sauder School of Business

This month PRiMEtime is exploring different ways that business schools are engaging in Impact Investing, whether that is through their teaching, extra curricular activities, research or events.

I recently had the chance to speak with Christie Stephenson, the Executive Director of the Dhillon Centre for Business Ethics at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia in Canada about the work that they are doing around Impact Investing and Responsible Investing. Her center, which became operational in 2016 and has a major focus on responsible investing, works in close collaboration with UBC Sauder Centre for Social Innovation and Impact Investing, which was formed in 2007.

 

Why impact investing? Why is it important that students learn about impact investing?

Impact investing is a fundamental shift in thinking about how profits and societal/ environmental good relate to each other. It rejects the notion that the two outcomes are mutually exclusive. Today, many business students come into university truly wanting to make a positive impact on society. Yet they’re studying business and their interest is in business – not necessarily charity or non-profit management. Impact investing provides another channel/avenue to work in global issues other than traditional charities that allows them combine their interest in business with their desire to create social impact. Incorporating environmental, social and governance considerations in investment decision making is also a major trend with retail and institutional investors and therefore it is more important than ever that students understand this. This traditionally gets referred to as Responsible Investing. Some people consider responsible investing a type of impact investing, other people consider impact investing a type of responsible investing. At UBC Sauder we tend to describe them as different, but closely connected, types of social finance.

 

What are some of the interesting research that the Centre has been doing around impact investing or is planning to do?

The UBC Sauder Centre for Social Innovation & Impact Investing (SauderS3i), which was formed in 2007, focuses in large part on impact investing, as the name suggests. SauderS3i is best explained by using a demand and supply model. It creates demand for impact investment capital by incubating successful social enterprises through the iHub program and it coordinates the supply of impact investment capital through working in partnership with the Pacific Impact Investor Network (PIIN). The Centre works with PIIN members to help them understand issues more thoroughly as well as how impact investing can play a role in their portfolios. The Dhillon Centre focuses specifically on responsible investing within the impact investing spectrum. This can be described as the integration of environmental, social and governance risk and opportunity considerations in public markets investing, whether that’s retail or institutional. One of the Centre’s four pillars is research and recruitment is currently underway for a lead academic to develop this pillar.

 

How are students engaged in impact investing? What kind of opportunities do they have?

Every summer, SauderS3i hires several interns to work on Impact Investing projects commissioned to us through PIIN members. They range from in-depth analysis projects on specific issues (water, education, housing etc.) to providing insights into impact investing portfolio construction.

The Dhillon Centre also hires a number of part time students. As well, with SFU Beedie Business School it hosts a free two-day workshop on responsible investment for students. We also host a variety of events for students including recent panels and workshops on topics such as “Careers in Social Finance” and “Impact Investing as a Major Philanthropic Trend”.

We currently also have opportunities within the curriculum including an elective on Impact Investing: Social Finance in the 21st Century that ran for the first time last year. In the past we have organized a range of events for students including an Impact Investing Competition.

 

What have been some of your successes?

SauderS3i has been working on creating one of the first university-based seed-stage funds. UBC has a strong entrepreneurial culture and a number of rockstar social entrepreneurs through our iHub programme (for example Wize Monkey, Arbutus Medical and Alinker). The impact fund aims to provide seed-stage funding to enterprises that are ready to make the next step from an early-stage idea to scaling growth and operations. On the research front, we’re extremely interested in how impact investing venture capital differs from traditional “Silicon Valley” venture capital. Unlike tech start-ups (like Facebook, Google, Uber), not many social enterprises will have traditional exits like IPO or get sold to another company. So we’re looking at how deal structures can be designed to respect this different dynamic, and at the same time create returns for investors.

Both Centres do a lot of work to foster discussions around Impact Investing in the community. This includes hosting meetings to bring together impact investors in Vancouver and events open to the public. For instance this month, the Dhillon Centre co-hosted an event with the SFU Beedie School of Business called “Reconciliation: A New Relationship for Investors” which explored how investors can take into account how companies work with indigenous people and communities.

Sauder S3i’s executive director, James Tansey, is on the Federal Social Finance and Social Innovation Co-Creation Steering Group that is charting out what’s next for Canada’s social finance market. The Dhillon Centre has been invited to speak on impact investing and responsible investing at numerous industry events over the past year, including those hosted by the Chartered Financial Analyst Society, the Responsible Investment Association of Canada, the Conference Board of Canada, and the International Corporate Governance Network, among others.

 

What’s next?

After five years of successful collaboration between Coast Capital Savings Credit Union and UBC Sauder Centre for Social Innovation & Impact Investing, the iHub is moving on to the next stage of our journey. Starting in November 2017 the iHub social venture accelerator will become an integral part of entrepreneurship@UBC which is the venture accelerator at the University of British Columbia.

Sauder S3i is continually trying to build the impact investing market in Vancouver and western Canada. In the coming months, it will be refining and improving its relationship with PIIN and launching a new investor portal / public impact investing resource guide (www.impactinvestmentforum.com).

The Dhillon Centre is supporting the development of more social finance content within the academic curriculum. We are a member of the iInternational Sustainable Finance Faculty Consortium which held its first in-person meeting this summer in Chicago and appears have great potential as a collective effort to support the advance of impact and responsible investment as an academic discipline.

 

What are your favourite resources around impact investing? Are there any other impact investing programmes at other schools that you admire?

Anyone interested in impact investing must subscribe to ImpactAlpha’s Daily Brief. You’ll never be out of the loop once you’ve subscribed.

The Impact Terms Project is also very useful. It has a great library of useful concepts related to private equity/ venture capital in impact investing.

Oxford University’s Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship has been a real leader in this space, although they have less of an emphasis on impact investing.

In terms of responsible investing sources, in Canada the best single source is the Responsible Investment Association of Canada. Internationally it may be the Principles for Responsible Investment. There are also some leading practitioners worth following, such as Sustainalytics, NEI Investments, and the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE).

 

Any advice for other schools looking at exploring impact investing?

Simply put, it would be “get up to speed sooner rather than later”. Impact and responsible investing are major trends that are changing not only the nature of our capital markets but have the potential for the kind of social and environmental impact that is absolutely critical to people and the planet. With the values shifts taking place because of demographic changes, there isn’t a business school out there that shouldn’t be looking at how to integrate these subjects into their curriculum and activities.

 

 

Management Education’s Role in the SDGs isn’t limited to providing quality education (SDG4). It is broader and more important than that.

When I discuss the Sustainable Development Goals with business school representatives, and ask what kind of initiatives they are working on in relation to these Goals, the answer is often the same: “We educate, therefore our focus is on SDG 4: Quality Education”.

But focusing solely on, and stopping at SDG 4 is a mistake, and a missed opportunity for the institutions in question and society at large. The role that business schools play is much broader and more important than that. The wider community engaged in the SDGs most often fails to recognise the crucial role that business schools can and are playing in the SDGs but they aren’t the only ones; business schools themselves generally fail to recognise the extent of their own role.

The Sustainable Development Goals are unique in that they are a globally recognised set of goals that outline where we need to go as a planet and where all stakeholders should direct their attention. It is a common language that unites us, that allows for partnerships to grow across sectors, industries, disciplines, all through this shared platform. It is a key for schools to connect into these discussions, to participate in them and to influence them all for the benefit of the school, its faculty and students.

  1. Ensure everyone on campus knows what the goals are and why they are important: Sobey School of Business in Canada organised a faculty session on the SDGs with a focus on how faculty can better embed discussion of the Goals into their courses. Faculty were asked to commit in writing how they planned to do this in their 2016/17 courses through the use of cases, assignments, additional readings etc.
  2. Identify which SDGs are most material to your institution: Hanken School of Economics in Finland identified which SDGS were most material to them in order to prioritize first steps. They are now working to understand where they stand on each of them and are exploring how to move forward.
  3. Embedding the SDGs into the curriculum: Slipper Rock University of Pennsylvania and La Trobe Business School have both been working to benchmark the coverage of sustainability topics within the business curriculum by mapping coverage of the SDGs taught in the courses offered in the core curriculum and whether it is part of the text, a module, part of an assignment or discussions.
  4. Embedding the SDGs into class assignments/discussions: Students at University of Colorado Denver in the US are tasked with developing an implementation plan for a company of their choice to address specific sustainable development goals and identify how the business could make progress against the specific targets associated with the goals. Students also need to consider actions that the United Nations could take to encourage more businesses to address the SDGs.
  5. Explore possible solutions: Students at Hult International Business School in the US were challenged to create a company-led “system” to solve a specific Sustainable Development Goal. Proposals ranged from training FARC rebels to meet employment needs while helping them to re-integrate into Columbian society; to challenging companies to get rid of boxes by collaborating with retailers to create new distribution systems for cereals.
  6. Facilitate interdisciplinary and multi stakeholder discussions to move the goals forward: Kemmy Business School’s Accountability Research Cluster hosted an international seminar on Tax and Poverty as part of their series Architects of a Better World. The event, which brought together a range of stakeholders focused around Goal 1 of the SDGs: No Poverty, the first time that the role of tax in delivering on the SDGs has been specifically addressed in Ireland.
  7. Work on the goals within your own institution: ISAE/FGV in Brazil reports on what they are doing on campus to reach the SDGS within their own operations including through waste management, water consumption, ethics and corruption on campus, gender equality and access to education.
  8. Use the SDGs to guide research priorities and impact: The University of Wollongong in Australia reports on what percentage of their research relates to the different SDGs and Manchester Met Business School is aligning their research closely with the SDGs.
  9. Developing partnerships to advance the goals: Faculty at Nottingham University Business School in the UK are collaborating with an international group of scholars to develop an innovative framework for assessing the impacts of Multinational Corporations on issues relating to the SDGs, in particular SDG 16 Peace Justice and Strong Institutions. The toolkit is being testing through close collaboration with partners from a range of industries as well as research organisations and civil society.
  10. Report on your efforts and impact in relation to the SDGs: University of Applied Sciences HTW Chur has organised their reporting around the SDGS with a particular emphasis on which SDGs they have a direct, indirect or collateral impact on.

Every one of the SDGs impact, and are impacted by management education, the research that you do, the decisions that your graduates make and how, as a network of schools, we create value. Each of the goals requires businesses and other organisations to work together on the challenges and developing and implementing the solutions. The upcoming 2017 Global Forum for Responsible Management Education – 10 Years of PRME in New York City on the 18-19 and of July will focus on sharing best practices in relation to making the Global Goals local business and how to bring the SDGs into every classroom.

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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Running a Successful Interdisciplinary Programme – Ryerson University

Since 2000, Ryerson University in Canada has been offering a unique interdisciplinary programme that brings together faculty from all of the university’s six departments. The Environmental Applied Science and Management (EnSciMan) Programme was a response to a clear societal need for graduates at the Master’s level with expertise in the core areas of practice in the Canadian environment industry. With a focus on applied research with immediate implications for practice, EnSciMan provides opportunities for students to bring together engineering, geography, public health, urban planning economics and other fields to create solutions to today and tomorrow’s challenges.

I spoke with Cory Searcy, Graduate Programme Director Environmental Applied Science and Management from Ryerson University about this programme.

Introduce the Environmental Applied Science and Management Programme and how it came about?

The EnSciMan Programme began offering its M.A.Sc. degree in 2000.  It was Ryerson’s first independent graduate programme. In the late 1990s faculty members in eight schools and departments (three engineering departments, chemistry and biology, geography, public health, urban and regional planning, and economics) collaborated in the initial development of the M.A.Sc. programme as a cooperative and multi-disciplinary degree.

The M.A.Sc. programme was developed to clearly link the environmental sciences and the management and decision-making disciplines in order to provide students the opportunity to integrate the two areas of study in the classroom and in their research. The emphasis was on applied research for resolving problems in environmental protection, conservation, and sustainable development. Much of the research conducted in the programme is intended to have immediate implications for practice

How has the programme grown over the years?

The initial planned intake was 12 full-time and 12 part-time students per year. In recent years, there has been a shift to more full-time M.A.Sc. students. The planned intake is now circa 20 full-time M.A.Sc. students per year. Several part-time students are also typically admitted.

The programme has continued to grow over time. The strengths exhibited by the faculty and students of the EnSciMan M.A.Sc. programme, through their published research and successful completion of degrees, were translated into the approval in 2008 of a Ph.D. programme in EnSciMan. The first cohort of doctoral students were admitted to the programme in the Fall 2009 semester. The planned intake was initially 5 full-time Ph.D. students per year but the target has typically been met or exceeded. The target now stands at 6 full-time Ph.D. students per year.

Since its founding, the EnSciMan programme has continued to foster research and training in the environmental sciences and in environmental management. The M.A.Sc. and Ph.D. students are now supported by over 85 faculty members at Ryerson University. EnSciMan is the only programme at Ryerson that includes faculty members from all six of the university’s faculties. The programme has been successful in preparing graduates for professional careers in the environment industry, as well as for doctoral studies.

How is the programme interdisciplinary?

The EnSciMan programme is designed to provide students with both breadth and depth of knowledge in both its programme fields (i.e., environmental science and policy and environmental management). This is done through, what the programme refers to as, its “T-shaped curriculum”.

The previous director of EnSciMan, Michal Bardecki, has discussed this concept in considerable detail. He explains that in many graduate programmes students acquire and graduate with highly specialised and deeply developed “I-shaped” expertise. However, in the 1990s an alternative model emerged recognising the value of those with “T-shaped” skills. Figuratively, the horizontal crossbar represents an ability to apply knowledge across disciplines and an understanding of fields outside one’s principal area of expertise, as well as complementary skills of communication, institutional knowledge, and the ability to solve problems collaboratively.

Recent research has continued to argue the case that the goal of shaping a T-shaped professional should guide programme development and delivery in a wide variety of discipline areas at universities. This can be particularly true of interdisciplinary programs which students’ strong foundation of specialised knowledge. For students seeking professional development, approaches such as these are often particularly attractive since they offer the promise of bridging to workforce relevance. There are manifest benefits to students as employers often seek those who can perform as “environmental integrators” (i.e., managing and coordinating projects, working in multidisciplinary teams and networking effectively). In addition, students possessing skills as both “specialists” and “generalists” may be better able to adapt to the inevitable fluctuations in the job market.

The EnSciMan programme possesses a T-shaped curriculum providing problem-solving and research depth in one area while explicitly incorporating overall breadth in the understanding of a range of other fields and developing complementary skills seen as valuable to students in the development of their careers.

What have been some of the challenges in creating an interdisciplinary programme such as this one?

Some of the key challenges in creating the program include:

  • Student funding: EnSciMan is a graduate program that does not have an undergraduate program directly associated with it. As a result, it can sometimes be difficult to secure Teaching Assistant (TA) positions for students. That said, many undergraduate programs from across the university have helped our students find TA positions.
  • Different academic cultures: EnSciMan includes over 85 faculty members from across the entire university. As a result, sometimes expectations for students (e.g., in the completion of their research) are different.
  • Seminar and office space: There is limited designated seminar and office space on campus for the interdisciplinary graduate students. Students and faculty are thus dispersed throughout the campus. This can create challenges in fostering a sense of belonging in the program.

What about some successes? 

There have been a number of successes. Two I would like to highlight are our graduate successes in securing employment in an environmentally-related area and our long history of successful co-supervision of graduate students. Over 90% of our graduates work in an environmentally-related field. The full details are available in the programme’s occasional paper (starting on page 21).

The co-supervision of graduate students has long been encouraged in the EnSciMan programme. This reflects the interdisciplinary nature of the programme and provides students with exposure to a variety of perspectives. As noted in our occasional paper, over 25% of M.A.Sc. students have been co-supervised. Many of these co-supervisions bridge departments and faculties. Examples include biology and public health, mechanical engineering and geography, biology and urban planning, and economics and occupational and public health. With over 85 faculty members in all six of Ryerson University’s faculties, it is anticipated that EnSciMan students will continue to enjoy opportunities to be co-supervised by faculty in a wide range of research areas in environmental science and environmental management.

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

Establishing reasonably common expectations for students (in terms of both coursework and their research) is very important given the different academic cultures involved in the programme. We need to always make sure we are fair to all students, which can sometimes be a challenge given the very different backgrounds and needs they will bring to an interdisciplinary programme. One key challenge these types of programmes may have is that faculty members are often members of a “home” department. This can result in them being pulled in different directions. It is therefore particularly important to have a core of several faculty members who are deeply committed to the interdisciplinary programme. One challenge of these programmes is that they often belong to everyone and no one. Several faculty members need to be deeply committed to the programme to make sure the needed things actually get done. We’ve been lucky to have this, but sustaining this commitment over time is a challenge for any interdisciplinary programme.

What’s next for the initiative?

EnSciMan is a well-established programme, however, we continue to improve over time. Key areas of focus include working to address the challenges listed above. We also recently completed a curriculum review, which resulted in the addition of two new courses (on responding to climate change and business fundamentals for environmental professionals).

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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)

Sustainable Development Goals_E_Final sizes
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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