Engaging Students in Sustainability Projects – The PRME Innovation Challenge

While embedding sustainability teaching into the curriculum at all levels and in all programmes is crucial, even more important, and popular with students and teachers alike, are opportunities for students to put that knowledge into practice. When students are given the opportunity to give insights to real life sustainable development challenges involving a real global company, even better.

The PRME Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Student Engagement Platform led by the PRME Secretariat has recently launched a new Innovation Challenge (the Challenge) for teams of students aimed at Advanced PRME Signatory Institutions. I spoke with the PRME Secretariat about the Student Engagement Platform about this latest challenge.


Why was the Challenge organised?

Here at the Secretariat we are always looking for ways to engage students to connect with both the SDGs and with companies actively seeking solutions to their challenges. We believe that companies are slowly starting to see that PRME Signatory students are an important untapped resource when it comes to sustainability and more companies are looking to work with us to tap into the innovative ideas students offer.

Over the past few years we have had a few opportunities for teams of students to not only connect but to actually contribute to strengthening the sustainability strategies of UN Global Compact companies. For example, during last years Breakthrough Innovation Challenge seven companies defined seven real-life challenges and seven student teams engaged with them to build sustainable business models and solutions powered by disruptive technologies.

Who is the business partner?

For this Challenge we are working with Manitou Group (Manitou). Manitou is a world-leader in design, manufacture, distribution and servicing of all-terrain, material-handing equipment for construction, agriculture, mining and industrial applications. They are looking to become sustainability leaders with objectives that include having 100% of new projects include eco design criteria. They are expanding the amount of revenue they derive from re-manufactured or reused parts and moving towards reducing the total cost of ownership by focusing instead on product service systems. To learn more about their CSR strategy click here.


What is the Challenge?

Manitou Group has proposed two challenges focused on SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and 13 (Climate Action). Teams of students are given a range of questions to answer in relation to these challenges. Based on the response, two winning teams will be selected. They will then get the chance to work with Manitou virtually between the 1st of November and the 30th of April on their ideas and projects. On the 14th of May they will submit their final recommendations to the company and will then get the chance to present those final recommendations at Manitou corporate headquarters in Wisconsin, USA on the 7th of June.


What are the specific challenges?

There is a choice of two challenges that student teams can choose from. The first involves Manitou’s REDUCE programme. In this programme, Manitou has developed tools focused on reducing their machines’ environmental footprints. The challenge they are facing is that they need to change the mind-set of both their internal and external customers to switch from the acquisition price to full services and solutions with a total cost of ownership benefits mind-set. They are looking for students to provide some insights on that.

The second challenge involves the company’s efforts to reduce their supply chain eco-footprint and identify all the factors necessary to improve it, such as optimization of transportation, materials input, returnable packaging etc. They are looking for students teams to work on the optimization of the transportation, looking at consolidating orders/cargo from multiple manufacturing facilities and identify the criteria that Manitou should use to measure what eco-friendly transportation means.

More details about these challenges can be found here.


How do schools participate?

Any school that is an Advanced PRME Signatory institution can take part in the challenge. Students must be organised into teams that consist of no more than 4 undergraduate or graduate students. Teams should come from different disciplines. There is no maximum allowed number of teams per school.


What is the deadline?

Teams that are interested should register online by 15th September. Submissions are then due on 1st October. On 31st October we will announce the selected student teams who will then work with Manitou. Keep an eye out for the PRME Signatory newsletter for information about future Innovation Challenges.

Preparing SDG Leaders through an Multidisciplinary Masters – University of Pretoria

Africa needs development practitioners in government, business and civil society who understand the complexity of development challenges and who have the leadership capacities to design and implement the integrated and multidisciplinary Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In response to this, the Albert Luthuli Centre for Responsible Leadership at the University of Pretoria in South Africa created the Master’s in Development Practice. Willem Fourie, the coordinator of this programme as well as the SDG Hub featured a few weeks ago on PRiMEtime, shared more details on this interdisciplinary programme and the impact they hope to have across the continent.

Introduce your new Degree programme and why it is unique.

We’re glad to be able to launch Africa’s first interdisciplinary postgraduate degree on the implementation of the SDGs. The Master’s in Development Practice at the University of Pretoria (MDP@UP) will equip participants with the leadership skills and interdisciplinary competence that should assist with realising the SDGs in their respective contexts.

Why have it?

Most universities’ postgraduate degrees focus on specialisation in one field. In the SDG era we also need degrees that broaden students understanding of a number of fields. The MDP@UP wants to equip participants with the foundational knowledge in health sciences, social sciences, management sciences and environmental sciences, coupled with the appropriate leadership skills.

The Albert Luthuli Centre for Responsible Leadership at the University of Pretoria hosts the national SDG Hub – a resource aimed at strengthening evidence-informed policy making around the SDGs. We realised the need to also build the appropriate capacity by means of postgraduate education, which is why we have developed the degree.

How is the degree organized?

We focus on participants already in full-time employment, and to this end we’re using a rather innovative flipped-classroom approach. Participants will be exposed to theory by means of online learning experiences, facilitated by our expert faculty. This will form the basis for engagement with experts and fellow participants and immersion in real-life developmental challenges during high-intensity contact weeks. Their research project will centre on identifying, describing and interpreting a complex and interdisciplinary developmental challenge in their work environment.

Our expert academic faculty members are from a range of academic departments at the university. Experts from the private sector, multilateral organisations, governments and civil society will also participate in the sessions during the contact weeks.

Explain more about the interdisciplinary nature of the programme and how that is being facilitated.

Participants will be exposed to foundational theory in health sciences, social sciences, management sciences and environmental sciences. This will form the basis for both their leadership service learning course, as well as the case study write-up. The integration of different disciplines will be facilitated especially by two elements of the programme: immersion and assessment. Immersion refers to participants’ exposure to real life examples of development practice. They will be enabled to reflect on the relevance of a wide variety of disciplines in each of the immersion experiences. And during their assessment, participants – both individually and in groups – will be challenged to design multidisciplinary solutions.

What have been the challenges of organising an interdisciplinary programme on the SDGs? Successes so far?

This programme of course challenges the conventional ways in which we organise universities. But we were fortunate to get the support of our Executive and fantastic faculty members quite early on.

Who is the programme aimed at?

We’re interested in participants who hail from Africa and who have been working for at least five years.

Any tips for other schools interested in doing something similar?

Only one thing: give it a try, and persevere!

Influencing SDG Policy in South Africa and Beyond – the SDG Hub at the University of Pretoria

The South African SDG Hub is online platform that aims to connect South African policy makers with the reearch and innovation they need to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Given the breadth of the SDGs, and the key role that policy makers have in creating an enabling enviornment for them to be reached, giving these policy makers accesses to up to date research that could influence this policy is cruicial. I spoke with Willem Fourie, co-ordinator of the project and Associate Professor at the University of Pretoria’s Albert Luthuli Centre for Responsible Leadership about the impact that the Hub is already having.

Introduce the SDG Hub

The South African SDG Hub is a collection of online and face-to-face platforms aimed at linking African policy makers with the most relevant and impactful research and innovation needed to implement the SDGs. The Hub is hosted by the University of Pretoria’s Albert Luthuli Centre for Responsible Leadership, which is located in the Department of Business Management.

Why have it?

Policy makers across the world – and also in Africa – are looking for access to SDG-relevant research and innovation. And researchers and innovators want policy makers to use their work. But for some reason evidence-informed policy making (and policy implementation for that matter) remains an elusive ideal. The South African SDG Hub wants to do its bit in linking policy makers with the best and most relevant research and innovation.

How did it come about?

During the negotiations that led to the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs I was involved in a number of processes in Africa aimed at increasing the effectiveness of development co-operation. My colleagues in the African Union indicated to me that improving access to African research and innovation could play a major role in making development more effective. This is how the seed for the Hub was planted. We were privileged to get the buy-in from government partners soon after launching the first rudimentary version of the Hub – so much so that the South African Minister in the Presidency actually launched the Hub for us.

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

The Hub has four work streams, namely knowledge sharing, policy advice, dialogue promotion and capacity building. Our key activities are, respectively, the online platform, a number of roundtables and SDG Bulletin, engagement with government departments and we’re launching a new interdisciplinary degree on SDG implementation.

Who else is involved and how?

Our first formal partnership was established with the national Department of Science and Technology. Our group of advisors are from all the major SDG implementing government departments, the United Nations and from development partners. The University of Pretoria is also playing a major role in enabling the activities of the Hub.

What have been some of the challenges? Successes?

We’re really glad about the level of interest amongst government actors. I would say the main challenge is now including all other relevant researchers and innovators in South Africa. This requires a significant expansion of our activities, as the SDGs cover such a wide range of topics.

How does the Hub fit into other activities happenig at the School?

Towards the end of last year we decided to infuse our first years’ Business Management course with theory on the SDGs. We were forced to do this in an innovative fashion, as around 2 500 students are enrolled for this course. We decided on a flipped classroom approach, according to which students had to prepare by watching videos on themes related to the SDGs. The classes were devoted to panel discussions and interaction via mobile technologies. We were grateful that a number of prominent people from business, government and civil society were willing to participate in the panel discussion.

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

It’s worth the effort – there are more than enough researchers and policy makers out there interested in bridging the gap between African research and innovation and policy making processes.

What’s next?

Well, at this point we’re hoping to solidify our activities in each of the work streams. I’m particularly excited about an Artificial Intelligence grant from Microsoft which will enable our team to develop deep learning technologies that might dramatically improve the online platform’s search functionality. We’re also quite excited about publishing our first SDG publication this year and hosting the first series of roundtables. In 2019 we’ll be welcoming our first cohort of students in the new degree programme, which is similarly exciting!

We’ve grown at a rate the even surprised the most optimistic team members. So we’re ready to expand and we’re engaging potential partners on this.

Empowering Refugees through training and funding – Monash University Malaysia (Part 2 of 2)

Malaysia is home to one of the largest urban refugee populations in the world, over 150,000 refugees and asylum seekers according to UNHCR. The School of Business at Monash University Malaysia has been actively engaged for several years now in programmes aimed at assisting and empowering individuals from this population through capacity building, funding and partnerships with multiple organisations. Last week I spoke with Priya Sharma, Coordinator and PRME Ambassador at Monash University Malaysia about the School’s CERTE programme, a bridge course to prepare students for university. In this second post, we look at another programme that provides small grants to refugee community based organisations and more specifically at the partnerships that the School has developed in this space.

How did your partnership with UNHCR Kuala Lumpur come about

The relationship between Monash University Malaysia School of Business (MUM-SOB) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) began informally in 2015, when the UNHCR Representative to Malaysia, Richard Towle was invited to participate in a public forum held by the school during its community engagement week, titled ‘Out of the Frying Pan and into the Fire:- Responding to the 21st Century Refugee Crisis’. Following this event, on Refugee Day 2016, I was invited by UNHCR to participate in an expert roundtable discussion on “Employing Refugees in Malaysia: A Win-Win for All”. In 2017, CERTE was organized as result of a collaboration between the School and T4R an NGO focused on education of refugees and has a standing relationship with UNHCR. As a result of this collaboration, a task force was set up here to look into possibilities of offering education to refugee students with advice from UNHCR, Kuala Lumpur. As trust and confidence between the entities grew, in 2018, T4R was granted the Refugee Social Protection Fund (SPF) Program by UNHCR, to be implemented in partnership with MUM-SOB

What is the SPF, how does it work and what kinds of projects are you funding

MUM-SOB PRME is collaborating to implement the Refugee SPF program initiated by UNHCR Kuala Lumpur. The UNHCR Kuala Lumpur introduced the Refugee SPF program in 2009. It operates as a fund for provision of small grants to refugee community based organizations (CBOs). 10 Refugee CBOs applied for the SPF grant from UNHCR, of which 7 CBOs will be successful.

The objective of this program is to further strengthen the capacity of 7 refugee CBOs and ensure adequate support for these community led projects to promote self-reliance within the refugee communities. The program also aims to improve livelihoods of some 200 vulnerable persons in the community especially women and youth. The program ends on 31st December 2018.

What is MUM-SOB role in the partnership?

Part of our role is to conduct workshops for the CBO leaders and provide mentors to guide them. The workshops provide key tools to help the CBOs meet their individual needs, while also providing a platform for collaborative work and team-building across CBOs. The first workshops focused on project management skills which included developing project goals/objectives and setting key indicators for impact, output & performance. The mentors and facilitators also provided guidance to the CBO representatives in their application of the Refugee SPF project fund. Three workshops are conducted with those CBOs who receive the funds.

Each CBO is paired with a PRME mentor, who are academics from various disciplines within the School of Business. Each mentor will support their CBO representative in implementing the tools and resources introduced during the workshops. The mentors will also make site visits to oversee the progress of the implementation of the tools and resources and help to identify and address questions and challenges as they arise. During this project, the mentors are expected to:

  1. Attend a Mentor Workshop to be organized by MUM-SOB PRME.
  2. Attend all Workshops organized for the CBO representatives by MUM-SOB PRME.
  3. Conduct 3 site visits (one visit after each workshop) to the CBOs assigned to oversee and evaluate implementation of the workshop tools & skills.
  4. Provide guidance, support and regular communication with the assigned CBO representatives.
  5. Prepare and submit 2 reports, namely the Mid-Progress Report and the Final Report at the end of the project.

Why is this collaboration important in your view?

Firstly, a collaboration like this between UNHCR, T4R and MUM-SOB, builds partnerships and helps bridge the gap between educational institutions, industry and community. It enables us to reach, empower and make a real difference to vulnerable communities directly, thereby creating impact on society. To quote an old Sudanese saying, one hand cannot clap. Coordinating these types of initiatives can be challenging. One way to address such a challenge is to focus on partnerships, not just among international actors, but more importantly, between international and local partners. Emphasis on such partnerships can create opportunities to combine skills, expertise and resources that more effectively empower vulnerable communities.

Secondly, the workshops serve several purposes. They not only provide key tools to help the CBOs meet their individual community needs, but also function as a platform for collaborative work and team-building across CBOs. This is evident from the feedback received from the first workshop as it became clear that these refugee community representatives were pleased to be acquainted with each other. It provided them a sense of community support and gave them the opportunity to work together on future projects.

Thirdly, by creating a mentoring program, the refugee mentees benefit a great deal to make their community self-sufficient and independent. Throughout the program, they are taught and guided by the MUM-SOB academics and experts to develop their own skills, strategies and capability so that they are enabled to tackle the next hurdle more effectively. It also opens doors for partnerships between refugee communities and local NGOs and social enterprises through networks the mentors are a part of.

What are your tips for schools looking to partner with local or international organisations?

We think that there are various ways a School can partner with a UN organization locally. Reaching out and visiting these UN bodies locally may be the starting point. For instance, we recently visited the UN Global Compact (UNGC) office in Malaysia and invited its  director to present on UNGC activities in Malaysia to the School’s management team. In addition, UN bodies are invited by our School to participate or adjudicate student competitions. For UN bodies like UNHCR, we have invited them to set up booths during student-led bazaars to sell items made by refugees to raise funds. In our experience, these initiatives open  avenues for collaboration relating to multidisciplinary research, education, student engagement and others, thus building relationships of trust and confidence for future partnerships.

Is this partnership also opening up opportunities in research and in the classroom?

We are exploring opportunities that may arise in research, education and partnerships. At the end of this project, the data collected may be used by MUM-SOB for research and publication from a multi-disciplinary perspective. This project may also be utilized for education purposes in the classroom, through student activities and a component on sustainability, demonstrating the importance of collaboration between educational institutional institutions, NGOs and UN bodies in empowering and bringing impact to vulnerable communities. It may also translate into social enterprises involving Malaysians and the refugee communities.


Communication with the refugee mentees has not always been easy. As they are extremely caught up in trying to make a basic living, engaging with them can be an uphill task. Due to their difficult situation in trying to make basic ends meet, an initiative like this may be overwhelming. In such a predicament, it is up to the collaborative partners to be aware of this problem and press on, sensitively to help them.

Next steps?

We hope that this initiative will inspire students and staff to engage in more impactful measures surrounding the 17 sustainable development goals and make efforts to partner with UN bodies and NGOs to successfully impact society and communities. The collaboration between T4R and UNHCR further promises a positive future working relationship to realize other sustainability initiatives for the community and society.

Sustainable Business Examples from Around the World – Australia, Malaysia, South Africa

As businesses become 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 Australia, Malaysia and South Africa.

Nicola Pless, University of South Australia, Australia

Jurlique is an international luxury cosmetics company based in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia. It has been pursuing an entirely sustainable production process based on biodynamic agriculture and an anthroposophic philosophy from its start. The company was founded by Ulrike Klein and her husband in the early eighties and is built on a vision to inspire people to well-being, through purity, integrity and care (for self, others, and the planet) – based on awareness and passion. 95% of their pure-plant based ingredients are grown on their certified biodynamic farms in the Adelaide Hills providing the basis for the purest and natural skin care.

Haigh’s chocolates was founded in May 1915 and is a boutique-style, high-end and iconic chocolate maker from Adelaide (SA) that grows sustainably with a vision to delight chocolate lovers around the world. Haigh’s is the only Australian bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturer to have achieved UTZ certification, which stands for sustainable farming of coffee, cocoa and tea with better opportunities for farmers, their families and the planet.


Priya Sharma, Monash University Malaysia, Malaysia

Earth Heir is a social enterprise that begun with the desire to reduce the exploitation of craftspeople and help them prosper directly from their labour. Bringing humanity to business, Earth Heir helps vulnerable communities such as the Orang Asli (natives) sell their craft works fairly and ethically so that they may achieve sustainable livelihoods.

Biji-Biji Initiative is a pioneering social enterprise in Malaysia that champions sustainability. The organisation maintains a sharp focus on operational efficiency, people development, investment analysis, and building, partnerships across public, corporate and NGO sectors. They focuses on building valuable products from waste, such as bags from discarded seatbelts.

The Starfish Project the program focuses on reintegrating the destitute, homeless, urban poor and poor families by restoring their dignity and enhancing their self-esteem through jobs placements and finding a sense of purpose in life.


Willem Fourie, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Spier Wine Farm in South Africa is known for its exceptional work in this regard. They support local industry and communities and are FSSC 2200 certified. They also support a number of projects around wastewater treatment, the arts, social justice and natural heritage including the Tree-preneur project which encourages people in impoverished communities to grow trees in exchange for essential goods.

Massmart is a retail chain with over 412 stores across Africa. It’s Corporate Accountability proposition is to achieve commercial success by adopting a mass distribution business model that proactively incorporates the input of our stakeholders to effectively integrate commerciality and accountability. Their accountability initiatives are wide ranging and extend from integrating small holder farmers into our supply chain, rationalising private label product packaging and improving store energy efficiency to championing black economic empowerment and increasing employee access to affordable private healthcare benefits.

The Dutch Female Board Index – TIAS School for Business and Society

A number of schools across the PRME network have developed national indexes tracking the number of women in executive positions of listed companies. In the past we have looked at the Women on Boards programme at the American University in Cairo and Sabanci University’s engagement in the Women’s Empowerment Principles in Turkey. In the Netherlands, the Dutch Female Board Index is an overview of the presence of women in Executive Boards of 85 Dutch listed companies published by TIAS School for Business and Society in the Netherlands. I spoke with Prof.dr. Mijntje Lückerath-Rovers, Professor in Corporate Governance who is responsible for this annual publication.

What is the Female Board Index (FBI) and how did it come about

The FBI is a ranking of female executives and non-executives in corporate boards of all Dutch Listed companies. I started the FBI in 2008 after an example of the UK: The UK FTSE100 Index. In the Netherlands at that time it was a very heated debate whether or not we should introduce a legal quota for female executives and non-executives in corporate boards. Nobody knew exactly what we were talking about, and everybody used a percentage of 5%. In 2008 the % of female executives was 2.7%, non-executives 8.7%. In 2017 these percentages were respectively 6.2% and 24.6%. In the Netherland we aim for 30% for both executive directors and for non-executive directors but the numbers, in particular for female executives, are hardly increasing.

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

The TIAS Women Corporate Directors – The Next Generation program, which is now in its 6th cohort, brings women who currently have a position in middle management into contact with role models: successful women who have top positions in various organizations and institutions. Because the female role models are missing too often in practice. There are sufficient male role models, but for a complete picture, women also need other women to reflect on themselves – to see how they make decisions, how they face challenges and how they solve problems.

How is the Index, and lessons learnt from the Index, incorporated back into the curriculum/classroom? 

The women in the Index are present in the classroom and share personal stories about their career. All of this happens on the basis of Chatham House rules. Even though these women have busy schedules, they make the time to come in to speak with the next generations.. The women are very open to share some of their dilemma’s in their corporate life, not necessarily based on being on woman, it is always related to decision making, but implicitly of course the participants see the difference with how the female directors solved these dilemma’s and what might be a more masculine approach. These sessions are preceded by a course by one of TIAS’ professor to give a theoretical insight on the five leading themes: governance, leadership, strategy, remuneration, finance.

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

Do not focus in on a course on female leadership or focus too much on themes such as glass ceiling and work life balance. Instead show business cases and let the women directors show their business skill and share their stories.

What’s next for the initiative?

Last year the Dutch Minister of Education adopted the Female Board Index as a tool to motivate Dutch firms to increase board diversity. We are planning to conduct more qualitative research to determine how the female directors in the female board index reached the top and what impact they have in their respective boardrooms.





How to Raise Awareness about the Global Goals with Students – Copenhagen Business School

Although we are 2 years into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), many faculty, staff and, in particular, students are still not aware of what the Goals are and why they are important. After conducting an informal student survey last year, the PRME team at Copenhagen Business School (CBS) in Denmark was surprised by the low level of awareness around the Goals and decided to do something to address that. I spoke with Jacob Schjødt, Project Manager for a special day they organized for students on the Goals, about how the team went about raising awareness.

What was Students for the Global Goals?

Students for the Global Goals was a one day on-campus event organised by the CBS PRME office in collaboration with 13 student organisations from CBS. Each organisation hosted an activity uniting their area of interest with one or more of the SDGs. Twenty companies participated alongside organisations, that were either collaborating with the team at events (e.g. through talks, workshops and/or case competitions), or by being present at a stand throughout the day.

How did it come about?

The event came about when CBS PRME noted that we were addressing responsible management in our curriculum, faculty and outreach but that there was very little that directly targeted students. But the question remained of how to engage students and what was relevant. Louise Thompsen, a project manager at CBS PRME felt strongly that the SDGs were not on many of our student’s radars and that there was a lack of awareness regarding them. This was further fueled with the results of an informal survey which revealed that only 30% of CBS the students questioned had heard of the goals, and that only 12 % of these had gained this information from CBS. Something needed to be done to drive awareness and so Iwas brought in to take on this challenge. Prior to the Student for the Global Goals event, CBS had not held an event about the goals, which was in contrast to many other Danish universities who had already, contributed in some form to the perceived necessity of creating awareness. In a more practical sense, it came about via the joint effort of two part-time PRME employees, spending around 10 months on planning and executing the entire day

How was the day organised. What happened?

We had a number of workshops, debates, cases and talks throughout the day. This included an event with Velux, Novo Nordisk and Oxfam on the SDGs – a New Wave of Greenwashing and another about Sustainability as a Competitive Edge put on in collaboration with Maersk, Unilever and Orsted (a large producer of energy). We had some events organized by student clubs such as mending clothes during the event (CBS Fashion Society) and Volunteering for the Global Goals (AIESEC). The CBS Debating Society organised a debate on the SDGs, exploring their relevance to business and to students. The best overview is provided in the booklet we prepared for the event.

How did you get companies involved? How were they involved and has the relationship continued past the event?

Companies had three different ways of engaging. Some were involved as partners. Here we asked companies to contribute financially in return for exposure, a large stand in a prime location, and engagement in events during the day. Initially we were going to ask one company to be the main partner but later decided it was better to ask three different companies. This was done by email, followed by meetings. Several companies were involved in specific events. In this case it was the student organisations that organised all the connections themselves. Lastly we asked companies to join on the day with a stand where they were able to tell students about their companies and the work they do.

We have developed a very good relationship to everyone who was involved, and some have shown interest in participating again next year.

What were some of the companies and the cases involved? Were the solutions shared with the companies and will they be implementing them?

We had one large case competition with Chr. Hansen, a leading global bioscience company about further engaging the SDGs in their work. Here, 50 students worked for 48 hours in close collaboration with the company. We also had some smaller cases, such as the implementation of our SUPO (sustainability points) project. This is a project aimed at incentivising students at CBS to engage in sustainable behaviours by rewarding them with points they can use to gain on-campus benefits. The workshop was about developing this currency system.

How did you bring together all the student organisations?

We are very lucky to have more than 80 student organisations at CBS, so finding engaged students was not a challenge. We looked through a catalogue, and identified interesting and relevant organisations with a reputation for being ambitious. Then, we invited their leaders to an informal coffee meeting, asking them if they would be interested in engaging in a student-oriented event about the Global Goals. The majority said yes.

After plenty of coffee meetings, we had a larger gathering with all of the organisations, where we explained our vision for the event more in depth. All organisations were from CBS, so they all had a business background. Yet, they varied greatly in their activities (from marketing, to debating, feminism, to Asian studies, sustainability and exchange).

What were some of the challenges faced and how will you fix those for next year?

We spent a lot of time trying to get funding for the events, by applying to various funds instead of reaching out to companies. None of the six funds offered to give us any money. Another challenge was that we invited some student organisations that had limited experience hosting events. That created a lot of nervous energy leading up to their contributions on the day. A more thorough screening process would have saved us from such worries.

What were some of the successes, how was it received!

It was very well received. Plenty of people showed up. Participants and co-organizers seemed both happy and impressed with the event. We had some of the largest Danish companies and large number of sustainability VIPs participating. It has also been mentioned a lot since both in the hallways at CBS, and in CBS’ newspaper and blog posts. We have, undoubtedly, created awareness and engaged a large number of students in the SDGs.

What advice do you have for other schools thinking of doing something similar?

Start out by having fun with the idea, and be super ambitious. A lot is doable.

Then, seriously consider how much time and energy you have at hand. It was quite demanding to be in charge of the project while only being employed part- time.

What’s next for the event?

Planning next year! One major aspiration is to go beyond CBS, and invite student organisations from other universities but that remains to be seen.


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