Students Create New Initiative to Develop Women Business Leaders – Slippery Rock University

Credit:Slippery Rock UniversityStudents are often the ones driving sustainability efforts on campus. Not only are they increasingly interested, but now are also outspoken and engaged in ensuring that relevant sustainability topics become part of their business school experience. Because of this, it is important that schools and faculty be prepared to support student initiatives and give them the opportunity to develop. At Slippery Rock University in the United States, two graduate students saw a need for a Centre focused on development of female business leaders and proposed the development of a new Centre on campus. I spoke with Professor Diane Galbraith, their mentor and faculty leader at Slippery Rock University.

What is the Women’s Business Centre?

As more female business students graduate from Slippery Rock University and other colleges around the world, they may find themselves unprepared for their future careers. Already at an unequal playing field with the current gender wage gap, women must consistently overcome obstacles in the world of business. These obstacles include pay differences, finding mentors, developing negotiation skills, achieving work life balance, and conflict resolution. Men may have already developed these skill sets or have a larger network to help them acquire these skills. According to the Harvard Business Review, “[…] among graduates of elite MBA programs around the world—the high potentials on whom companies are counting to navigate the turbulent global economy over the next decade—women continue to lag men at every single career stage, right from their first professional jobs” (Carter, N.M., & Silva, C., March 2010).

In the fall of 2015, two Slippery Rock University (SRU) Master of Business Administration students, Katelin McCallan and Cheyanne Crevar, embarked on a journey to create a business organization for women in the Slippery Rock area. The students, along with their advisers, Dr. Diane D. Galbraith and Dr. Melanie Anderson, created a new group, Women’s Solar Center, also known as Solar (a metaphor for helping women in business shine). This was started based on an authentic desire to help women succeed.

How was the Centre created?

Katelin and Cheyanne were working as graduate students for the university. They discovered a women’s entrepreneurial center called EMagnify located at Seton Hill University. The head of the center was leaving and the group was going to be disbanded from the area. We learned that the region does not have many centers for women who want to prosper in business or outlets to learn and grow in this space. This resulted in proposing that Slippery Rock University step up and create a center that addresses the needs of our peers and the advancement of women.

They contacted myself and a colleague, Dr. Anderson to be part of this journey. The four of us met on a regular basis to develop the centre, its mission and write up a grant proposal to support the Centre. We received a $4,289 Faculty-Student Research Grant, which allowed the two students to further develop the Centre. They have been working to recruit female alumni in business and create a space where female students and alumni could get support in starting a business, contract negotiations, salary negotiations, mentoring and work/life balance. We had a first start up meeting that drew 50 women.

What are the goals/aims of the centre? 

We want to utilize the resources of faculty, alumni, and students of Slippery Rock University to break down the barriers for women in business and help them on their journey towards advancement and achieving work life balance. The group will reach out to students, faculty, staff, and regional community members. Women involved in Solar will learn about various professional topics including networking, conflict resolution, professional document building, and negotiation. In addition to skill development and education, women will have the chance to participate in mentoring programs with Slippery Rock University professors and community members.

Presently, we are working on securing area speakers to provide information in a variety of areas. Our December speaker was a woman from the Dress for Success organization that focuses on professional dress in the workplace. We are planning to develop an advisory board to further develop the Centre. Students and alumni will need to pay dues to join the Centre, $25 for a semester and $35 for the year. This will help pay for speakers and events.

What have been some of the challenges? Successes?

As a new initiative, our biggest challenge is marketing and raising awareness as well as securing resources to grow and develop the Centre. Local organisations such as the Ohio University’s Women in Business (OWIB) were very receptive to helping us launch the Centre. We have already started offering a range of workshops that appeal to students and group members and this was an essential step for our collective growth as professionals in our respective fields.

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

Start small since this can be such a big initiative. We are not re-inventing the wheel because others have paved the way for us. We know that we need sponsorships and to tap into the community. People need to be impassioned about helping women. Graduate assistants started this enterprise and we need to secure ongoing resources for continuity. We are still in the initial phases ourselves, so we are exploring options to help this organization succeed.

Solar came about because of students, an MBA project to be specific. It is important that schools and faculty have ways to support student initiatives. We as facilitators are more than willing to take an idea from incubation to reality, since we are advocates for creativity and innovation. When these students proposed their idea, we encouraged them to develop it and then provide the groundwork to bring it to fruition. The culture has to be receptive to new ideas as well as the faculty needs to provide the oversight and business acumen to move these projects forward.

What’s next for the initiative?

We are in the planning stages. We are discussing the creation of a signature event to host annually that becomes synonymous with our organization and our mission. In addition, we are discussing a philanthropic partner who is as passionate as we are in supporting women. As we progress, we would like to expand in the region, even as a center for women in business. When these plans materialize, we will request additional resources, possibly a full-time position and/or director. In the interim, we are attempting to secure graduate assistants in the Business department to assist the organization’s student officers.

SDG
SDG11SDG5

Sharing and Inspiring Student Sustainability Research – The oikos-PRME Research Hub

fotolia_92594158_s-e1445435514678There are a growing number of opportunities for students to engage in PRME. One is a joint initiative between PRME and oikos, a network of more than 45 student chapters at universities worldwide with the joint mission to integrate sustainability into education and research. The oikos-PRME Research Hub is addressed to students in economics and management at all levels (Bachelor, Master and PhD) who are engaged in research projects on sustainability-related topics. With this platform, students have the opportunity to share their works within and beyond the oikos and PRME’s international communities.

Writing a thesis is a long process of deep thinking and discovery, in which students are asked to share their knowledge, opinions and beliefs. Yet, more often than not, the results of this process remain unpublished, especially at bachelor and master’s level. The Research Hub is saying “Hey guys, don’t put your thesis away in a drawer. Share it and make a positive impact!”.” Stefano Ramelli, oikos PhD fellow

How this works in practice

The Research Hub is a platform accessible through the oikos international website. Students can browse the uploaded works and take inspiration from what others are doing in their fields. To submit their own research, all that students need to do is choose the “share” function and include an abstract and a few details of the work, as well as their short biography and picture. Students have the option to either share the whole thesis or to make it available upon request. In any case, the authors retain the full ownership of their work and can modify their data on their Research Hub page whenever they wish.

Examples of shared research

For his Masters in Business Management at the University of St.Gallen, Robin Kleiner wrote a thesis offering an evaluation of the first social impact bond in Switzerland. For her Masters in Economics at the Pisa University, May Hong Nguyen explored CSR and human rights using a game theoretical approach. Despite a great deal of diversity of the projects shared so far, they are all equally inspired by the same desire to use economics and management knowledge to make the world a better place.

The impact on students

The Research Hub aims to encourage more and more students worldwide to write theses that address the sustainability challenges of our time. A positive impact of the Hub is to give immediate visibility to sustainability-related theses, even to practitioners. For instance, a few months ago a professional in the finance industry was interested in a thesis shared on the Research Hub, offering a critical comparison of sustainability indices, and was thus put in direct contact with the author by the oikos team. It is hoped and expected that many other students will be contacted in this way by scholars and practitioners with questions relating to the shared research..

How the Research Hub can be used in the classroom

Integrating sustainability into academic curricula can be a slow and challenging process. However, when writing a thesis, students have the unique opportunity to directly shape their own curricula and to influence the research agenda of their institutions. This is the goal of the Research Hub: to integrate sustainability into educational programmes by leveraging on the enthusiasm, critical thinking and innovation of students when making research.

In their role of supervisors, professors can give a great contribution to this project by inviting and encouraging their students to share their theses on the Research Hub. The support of professors is indeed essential to make the Research Hub grow.

How to get involved:

Visit the Research Hub to start browsing existing research and to share your own or write to researchhub@oikos-international.org or more information

Students Providing Ideas for Innovative Solutions to Company-Defined Sustainability Challenges

Continuing on with our theme this month of Student Engagement, this week we focus in on opportunities for students to solve real challenges with real companies, focused on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Breakthrough Innovation Challenge (BIC), a collaboration between PRME and the UN Global Compact, is a year-long programme that brings together young professionals from leading multinational companies to evaluate disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain and Internet of Things, and build sustainable business models addressing the SDGs powered by these technologies. The project is part of a larger UN Global Compact Initiative, Project Breakthrough, which aims to catalyze breakthrough, rather than incremental, corporate innovation to advance the SDGs.

“Disruptive technologies are radically transforming industries and changing many aspects of our lives. The Breakthrough Innovation Challenge brings together leading companies and young innovators to design the sustainable business models of tomorrow. This is an exciting opportunity for students to put their ideas and knowledge into practice.” Nikolay Ivanov Coordinator, PRME Champions

How this works in practice

Corporate teams of young entrepreneurs will be tasked with developing a solution to a company-defined challenge focused on the intersection of sustainability and a disruptive technology. PRME students are invited to connect with the participating companies and challenge or support their company teams with innovative sets of ideas and solutions to their company-specific challenges.

Student teams are made up of 3 students per team and should be made up of interdisciplinary members from undergraduate and/or graduate programmes. They have until March 19th to sign up and respond to one of the cases presented by the companies. Company teams will then review the submissions and select one response they consider the best for each challenge. The selected student teams will be invited to work virtually with the company teams between April and June to further develop their ideas. They will be invited to participate in the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2017 and the teams with the best ideas would present their solutions on September 21st at the United Nations in NYC.

The challenges

Eight companies have defined eight real-life challenges focused on building sustainable business models and solutions powered by disruptive technologies. These include:

  • BRASKEM – Halve the key inputs used by agribusiness while increasing yields
  • ENEL – Affordable, clean and sustainable energy for everyone
  • FUJI XEROX – Creating an innovative work culture for creative, decent, eco-friendly work
  • IBERDROLA – Providing clean and affordable energy to everyone
  • NATURA – Enable a global collaboration network of Natura’s consultants
  • NESTLE – Enable exponential consumer engagement and behaviour change to contribute towards Nestlé’s strategy to prevent and minimise food waste along the value chain
  • SUMITOMO CHEMICAL – Feeding the world through precision agriculture- biosensors
  • YARA – Responsibly feed the world and protect the planet

The impact on students

Students will have the opportunity not just to engage in real life business challenges around the Sustainable Development Goals, but to possibly contribute to real company’s strategies in this area moving forward. This is a unique opportunity to step out of the classroom and make an impact in the way a global company approaches these issues.

Moving forwards

This is the pilot year for the Breakthrough Innovation Challenge with the prospects of having it run annually. The quality and impact of this engagement between multinational companies and innovative students will determine the future design of this programme.

How to get involved

PRME students can register here. For more information visit https://goo.gl/dB0a9a.

Business Students Discovering SDG Solutions – AIM2Flourish

For the whole month of March, PRiMEtime will be featuring examples of student engagement from across the globe including a more in depth look at PRME’s Student Engagement Platform. 

There are a growing number of opportunities for students to engage in PRME, for example through the recently launched PRME SDG Student Engagement Platform, which contains a growing number of new opportunities for Signatories. One of the Platform’s  is AIM2Flourish, an online database of best practices housed at Weatherhead School of Management-Case Western Reserve University.

The AIM2Flourish.com platform invites students from business schools around the world to identify companies with sustainability innovations, interview the business leaders involved and then write up a short case study about the innovation. These are uploaded onto the platform, which currently has a database of over 425 examples of SDG business solutions from around the world. Students and faculty are then invited to comment on the different cases.

These interviews—and the students’ stories that come out of them—have the effect of jump-starting and reinforcing students’ commitments to being responsible business leaders themselves.” Claire Sommer, AIM2Flourish Communications Director

How this works in practice

Using the Sustainable Development Goals as their lens, and with their professor’s support, students identify a world-benefitting business innovation and interview a business leader about it. They submit their story on AIM2Flourish.com using an online form, along with photos and video links. After the student submits her or his story, it goes to the student’s Professor for review and comments. Finally, each story receives a final review from a member of the 30-person volunteer AIM2Flourish Story Stewards community before publication, to ensure that the story reads well and meets the AIM2Flourish publication criteria.

The AIM2Flourish.com community has more than 2,100 citizen, professor and student members from 58 countries. All AIM2Flourish community members can comment and like on stories, and connect to other members. Additionally, they are invited to submit short “Sightings” of businesses doing good in the world. AIM2Flourish students use these “Sightings” as story-starters for their AIM2Flourish assignment.

Site visitors can browse through the stories and sort them by SDG, Certified B Corp status, location, school and author. To help Professors teach students about the UN SDGs, the AIM2Flourish team has created a resource page that is updated weekly.

Some examples of cases

Since AIM2Flourish’s launch at the 2015PRME Global Forum and GRLI All Gathering Momentum (AGM) events, business students worldwide have published over 425 business innovation stories for good. Many students are writing about business leaders in service to big environmental challenges or positive health innovations, like the Lucky Iron Fish, a social enterprise started by University of Guelph business student Gavin Armstrong. Armstrong’s innovation helps combat iron deficiency in Cambodia with a small fish-shaped iron ingot that, when boiled with a meal for 10 minutes, releases a significant portion of a person’s daily iron intake requirements.

Likewise, a student at Ursuline College in Cleveland, Ohio, shared this reflection about writing the story called It’s About the Chocolate: “Researching this business has truly inspired me to be a better person. Researching all that Askinosie Chocolate does for their employees and cocoa bean suppliers and for the community has definitely made a positive impact on me. My findings help demonstrate that there are successful businesses out there who do not rely on economic growth and corruption to make a profit.”

The impact on students

According to Claire Sommer, the Communication Director at AIM2Flourish, “an essential part of the AIM2Flourish experience is that students leave the classroom and have a positive, strengths-based conversation with a business leader. In these interviews, students discover ‘what’s going right’ in terms of profitable innovations at the leader’s organization that help achieve the SDGs. Students tell us that writing an AIM2Flourish story about a business innovation is transformational—it changes how they think about business’ potential for good, and how they see their own potential to be positive social innovators. The business leaders who are interviewed tell us that they see their accomplishments in a new light, feel recommitted to business practices that do good, and appreciate meeting rising talent. These new relationships have led to jobs, internships and even a board seat offer.”

How AIM2Flourish is being used in the classroom

The platform has more than 150 professors around the world who contribute to AIM2Flourish, including 22 professors who have made it a mandatory part of their programme. Some professors offer AIM2Flourish as part of a semester-long course. Others have modified it for shorter classes of 8 or 12 weeks. The AIM2Flourish assignment is being used for online classes, in-person classes, and a hybrid of both. In some classrooms, AIM2Flourish is a mandatory assignment, and in others it’s elective or for extra credit. Students can work individually or in teams of up to 4 people. The assignment was designed for graduate level students, but is being used by undergraduate students as well, from Canada to Morocco.

Moving forward

The cases submitted by students to AIM2Flourish will be considered to be part of a Global Opportunity Explorer being developed by the UN Global Compact (launch mid 2017). The platform will share opportunities and solutions to advancing the SDGs and how to make them work. The platform is in its early stages but is scheduled to go live before the 2017 PRME Global Forum on 18-19 July in New York.

The best stories published by December 31, 2016 will be recognized at the first 17 Flourish Prizes at the June 2017 Fourth Global Forum at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. There will be one Flourish Prize for each SDG, selected by a jury of business and academia leaders. The inaugural Flourish Prizes will be awarded. All stories published in 2017 will be eligible for the 2018 Flourish Prizes.

How to get involved:

All PRME schools are invited to offer the AIM2Flourish assignment to their students, as preparation for students to become Global Goals business leaders. For more information visit AIM2Flourish.

Using Games to Engage in Sustainability – An Update (Part 3 of 3)

Back in 2012 I put together a three post special on online games that focus on raising awareness on different sustainability topics. To this day these are some of the most popular posts ever on PRiMEtime. Over the next couple of weeks I will be posting a series of articles with an updated summary of online games that aim to raise awareness about sustainability topics that can be used in the classroom or by students individually interested in these issues. I will also be covering a range of apps that allow students to engage, in real time, in sustainability issues locally or even globally. All of these resources are organised based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Click here to read Part 1 (SDG 1-6) and Part 2 (SDG 7 -12).

Do you use any other games in your classroom? Send them and I will update the list.

SDG13Climate Change

Habitat the Game is designed to educate players about the effects that climate change will have on different species around the world while also encouraging players to examine how their own behaviours and ecological footprint will impact the planet. It was developed by Sydney University, The Rainforest Alliance and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Climate Challenge is a game aimed at young professionals based on real climate change data where players can try out different approaches for themselves and learn about the issues. It was developed by the Oxford University Centre for the Environment and scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The player takes on the role of the President of Europe, choosing policies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from 2000 to 2100. The player has to balance emissions reduction while making sure there is enough electricity, water and food for people, whilst also managing their spending and popularity with the electorate.

EnviroMan, developed by Novo Nordisk, looks at climate change and how to strike the right balance between economy and environment.

World Climate is a group role-playing simulation of the international climate change negotiations. The exercise provides participants the chance to explore the risks of climate change and the challenges of negotiating international agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Participants play negotiators representing countries and regional blocs that work to create an agreement that limited climate change.

SDG14Water

Ice Flows, developed by the University of Exeter, the National Environment Research Council and the British Antarctic Survey is a game which tasks players with controlling the size of the ice sheet in order to get penguins to their desired destination. The climate changes, whether that means decreasing snowfall or increasing ocean temperatures, make it harder (or easier) for the penguins to catch fish, and thrive in their environment.

The Fish Game gives players 10 days to catch as many fish as they can to support their family. Several other version of the game exists which change the rules slightly. The object of the game is to have as many fish as possible by the end of the game while still keeping the fish population healthy.

Fishbanks is a multiplayer web based simulation in which participants play the role of fishers and seek to maximise their net worth as they compete against other players and deal with variations in fish stocks and their catch. Participants buy, sell, and build ships, decide where to fish and negotiate with one another.

Tragedy of the Tuna aims to educate students about the concept of the “tragedy of the commons.” In this game, each student or group of students represent a county in control of a tuna fishing fleet and makes decisions about fleet size and deployment. As the game progresses, teams vie to stay afloat as the competition for the shared fish population becomes more intense.

Marine Debris Tracker lets anyone track and report marine litter from anywhere in the world on a mobile phone, helping beach clean-up efforts and protecting our oceans. Data is easy to upload and can be downloaded in excel for analysis.

SDG15Biodiversity

Climate Game is an interactive online game that sets you on a quest to settle on an uninhabited island covered by green trees and thick forests. You can harvest, use and plant trees, manage your income to develop island infrastructure. But, beware of the consequences of your action.

About That Forest is a web-based role playing simulation that takes place in a forest and the community that lives in it. Participants take the role of the people living in the forest and need to manage it sustainably.

Forest Cover Analyzer, created by the World Resource Institute, enables users to assess forest cover change and risks related to sustainable palm oil production in areas of Indonesia. Another app, the Suitability Mapper, enables users to identify potentially suitable sites for sustainable palm oil production.

Global Forest Watch provides global maps and data for tree cover gain and loss.

The Good Fish Guide is an app that provides in depth information on how sustainable different types of fish are. Similar apps have been developed in other regions of the world including Australia.

International BarCode of Life is the largest biodiversity genomics initiative ever undertaken aimed at cataloguing all species on the planet.

ESRI is a detailed map of the world that defines bio climate, landform, geology and land cover information. It was created by the US Geological Survey and includes climate change data.

SDG16Peace

Syrian Journey, developed by the BBC, is a digital product that explores the exodus of the Syrian people. The project aims to bring audience awareness of the plight of Syrian refugees.

Endgame: Syria is a game that examines the complexities of the Syrian civil war. Played from the perspective of the Syrian rebels, players must balance the in game currencies of morale and support against the costs of fighting in the war and decide when and if the time is right to accept a peace treaty.

Darful is Dying is a narrative-based simulation that puts you in the shoes of a displaced Darfurian refugee. The game is based on 2006 statistics and data.

PeaceMaker, developed at Carnegie Mellon, challenges players to establish peace in the Middle East. Players can take the perspective of the Israeli Prime Minister or the Palestinian President and react to unpredictable real-world events. The ultimate goal is to create virtual peace and be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

 

Collaboration among schools across the Nordic Region

phd-prme-nordic

Number 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is perhaps the most important, but also the most challenging. The ability of Management Education to successfully engage and help reach the SDGs will require a range of partnerships not only between schools and external organizations such as business and government but more importantly among schools themselves. Schools across a particular region can work together to coordinate research, efforts, teaching and work together to focus on the SDGs from a regional context and ensure that next generation of organizational leaders do so as well.

In response to this, the schools that make up the PRME Chapter Nordic which are schools from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have collaborated to create a new Ph.D. course that engages students from the different schools on sustainability and CSR. I spoke with Elizabeth Barratt from Stockholm School of Economics to learn more about this new programme.

Introduce the PRME Chapter Nordic Ph.D. course and how it came about.

The participating schools of the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) Chapter Nordic, which consists of schools from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, decided to establish a common PRME Chapter Nordic Ph.D. course on sustainability and CSR.

This new programme aims to help translate and implement sustainability and CSR in the local context as well as leverage the strength of the existing UN Global Compact Nordic Network. As a Chapter, we are focused on integrating sustainability thinking into management education at Nordic business schools and providing platforms for collaboration and sharing experiences. Creating such a course aims to increase awareness of these issues in the region for future generations of students. The course also aims to facilitate and support research networks among doctoral students themselves and among faculty in the Nordic Universities who are focused on sustainability and to deepen and expand cooperation across the region.

This course is called “CSR and sustainability in the Nordic context” and 19 Ph.D. students from across the region are participating. The course is divided into three modules arranged at different schools in the region beginning with Stockholm School of Economics (September 2016), BI Norwegian Business School (February 2017) and Hanken School of Economics (April 2017).

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

Module 1: In September 2016, the Mistra Center for Sustainable Markets (Misum) at the Stockholm School of Economics hosted the first module. Here students mapped the sustainability research field and then discussed research issues in sustainable production and consumption, on a Nordic model for sustainable finance and on urban sustainability. Students were then paired off to work on research papers.

Module 2: The next module entitled “Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Sustainability” is taking place at the BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo in February 2017. There will be a discussion on theoretical perspectives on innovation and entrepreneurship for sustainability, the green transition of the Norwegian economy and whether finance can be ethical. There will be presentations relating to the Norwegian petroleum industry and Oslo city’s green transition programme, and student presentations.

Module 3: The final module of the Ph.D. course will be at the Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki in April 2017 in conjunction with a CR+ conference where the students will have the possibility to present their papers.

What are you hoping will come of this new programme?

The Chapter Nordic hopes to create a stronger network and build greater cooperation between students and faculty in the different schools around sustainability research, as well as to increase and share knowledge of CSR and sustainability – particularly in the Nordic region.

What have been some of the challenges and successes?

Our biggest challenge has been coordinating doctoral programme requirements at the different hosting schools. Finding financing for the travel expenses for Ph.D. students has also been a challenge. Although the programme has just started, we are already seeing increased co-operation and communication between business school staff in the Nordic region around the teaching of sustainability and CSR, Ph.D. students at the different schools are getting to know each other, learning about sustainability issues in the different countries, and co-operating on research projects over the 9 months of the course. We are also looking forward to the presentation of the co-written research papers at the CR3 conference in Hanken in April.

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

Early planning along with close collaboration among hosting schools is key. A challenge is to ensure that each hosting school can draw on their unique research competence at the same time make sure that the sum of the parts builds a whole.

What is next for the initiative?

At the end of the current course (9 months), we will be assessing the impact and usefulness of the joint Ph.D. course; looking at what resources we have and can get access to we will decide whether to continue it on a regular basis every two years.

Making an Impact Through Experiential Learning – Experiences from the Institute of Management Technology (Part 2)

img-20170111-wa0007What kinds of partnerships have you developed to make this course possible?

For execution of the social projects we have developed partnerships with several local-level government agencies, and a number of renowned national-level NGOs, such as Agewell Foundation, AROH Foundation, Asha Deep Foundation, Empowering Minds, Lakshyam, Project KHEL, Social and Development Research and Action Group (SADRAG), Smile Foundation, Sshrishti India Trust, Teach For India, and Udayan Care.

Our model brings business, government and the civil society all together. In various cases our students are working as part of programmes run by our NGO partners wherein an NGO is working as an ‘implementation agency’ for the CSR initiatives of some big Indian or multi-national companies. As you may be aware that India is the first country to introduce a ‘mandatory’ CSR provision in the Companies Act 2013, according to which big corporates are ‘obliged’ to spend certain portions of their net profit on CSR.

Our students have been involved in contributing towards certain flagship initiatives of the Government of India including (i) Swachh Bharat Mission (for anti-open-defecation campaign); and (ii) Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana which has the dual objectives of adding diversity to the incomes of rural poor families and cater to the career aspirations of rural youth. In collaboration with the local-level government agencies our students are working with government schools as well as Missing Children’s Homes situated in Ghaziabad.

What have been some of the challenges?

There have been many challenges, given that we are doing it for the first time. We are learning as we are developing the programme. First the programme involves a large batch of students, around 450, working on the ground and the programme had to be implemnented within a couple of months! But we have been able to convert that challenge into an opportunity, because it allowed us to work at scale and on diverse areas, with potential for greater impact. I have had intellectual and moral support in the development and delivery of the course from Dr Anurag Danda my colleague in the Initiative,. Our director and dean-academics, Dr Ravikesh Srivastava have extended whole-hearted support to the programme. Above all, we could not traverse the hurdles without constant support from my students, particularly Ayush Gupta and Udit Mathur who have been relentlessly working with me to make it happen!

Another challenge is physical safety and security of students, particularly girls. It has been a major cause of concern and demanded a no-compromise approach as and when students shared their concerns and worries.

Successes?

It is gratifying to share that we have been able to conceive this unique model and bring it to fruition for the entire batch within a very short span of time. It is also delighting to see the impact that we can have and the extent of interest there is among the stakeholders to work with our students. In September 2016, I met with the local municipal commissioner of Ghaziabad to collect a list of slum areas in Ghaziabad where or students could work. When he got to know about our initiative, he proposed that our students could work with the Municipality to perform street plays (‘nukkad natak’ in Hindi) to generate awareness on harmful effects of open defecation on the opening day of the Swachh Bharat Week that was scheduled just two days from then. We brought together a group of 16 students who managed to stage it in slum areas of Ghaziabad with just few hours of preparation. People in the slum areas shared their concerns and plight to such an extent that these students came back motivated to do their bit for these under-privileged. One of our students created a video of that day (click here to view the link).

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

We are being contacted by other leading intiatituions in India who are interested in our programme and the lessons that they can learn from it, especially in terms of pedagogy which is very gratifying! Some advice I give them is;

  • Have someone lead the initiative who believes in it and is passionate about it. Otherwise it’s very difficult to make it happen!
  • Be clear about your objectives and deliverables.
  • If you decide to work with partners then choose your partners and corresponding projects in such a way that these are in alignment with your objectives.
  • Have your well-thought-out implementation plan in place well in advance. That said, when you are going out of the secured corner of your classroom and trying to work at the grass-roots, things may not go the way you plan as you will not have control over most of the external factors. So, be prepared to deal with unforeseen challenges and unexpected contingencies which may crop up out of the blue moon.

What’s next for the initiative?

The initiative is mid-way. Our first goal is to bring it to its conclusion to the best of our ability. We are also collecting in-depth feedback from students and all our stakeholders. The endeavour will be to take it to its next level in the next academic year by learning from the rich experiences we are already gathering in its maiden year. We are also in the process of including it in other programmes. For instance, we have just now introduced SSR in the curriculum of our Executive Programme. However, rather than replicating the model of the Two-Year Programme, we are trying to come-up with a tailor-made model to suit the architecture, timeline, deliverables and participants of that programme, as one size may not fit all!

SDG SDG1 SDG3 SDG11

%d bloggers like this: