Lessons in Preparing your First SIP Report from Reykjavik University

SIPReykjavik University in Iceland was awarded, at a special ceremony at the 2015 PRME Global Forum in June, a recognition for their Sharing Information on Progress report (SIP). In their first SIP report they created an engaging and reader friendly communication tool that brought together the work that they are doing at the Business School, while actively promoting the voices of different stakeholders. I spoke with Hrefna Sigriour Briem, Director of the B.SC Programme at the School of Business, about their experiences and lessons learnt preparing their first SIP report.

What approach did you take when preparing your first report and how did you go about putting the report together?

The report was an excellent opportunity to take a close look at what is already in place. We started by discussing with faculty what initiatives they were already taking in their teaching and research—we were pleasantly surprised by the fact that there was more going on than we had anticipated. The reporting process was a great opportunity to shed light on various activities that were already going on and illustrate them in a coherent manner. In addition we discussed the issue of responsible leadership and sustainability at various faculty meetings and a task force brainstormed for new ideas and initiatives, particularly how to get students more involved and how collaboration could be encouraged.

Is there a part of your report or the process that you are particularly proud of? What parts were, or still are challenging?

It was delightful to experience that faculty members and students were quite interested and enthusiastic. We are particularly proud of the fact that the report illustrates the work of a large majority of our people and the ways that responsible management education (RME) is exercised in our various programmes. Getting started was the most difficult part. What to report on and how to report was a challenge, and we spent considerable time discussing these issues.

How have you been using/communicating the report?

We have mostly used the report for internal purposes—communication to students has been our number one priority. We did however distribute the report to the business community, and the dean and programme directors have made a point of discussing the importance of RME both internally as well is in external communications such as interviews and commentaries. We do see further opportunities in participating in a dialogue with industry, particularly through FESTA, a local business network for promoting sustainability. Our report was sent to the 300 biggest organisations in Iceland and was also covered by various local media.

What advice do you have for other schools putting together their first report?

Start by looking for what is already going on. Get as many of the faculty members on board as you can, but don’t waste too much time on convincing the skeptics, the advocates are the ones that will make the change happen. It is also good to keep in mind that the report should be useful for the institution, we used the report and the process as means to take stock and set goals, that way you can refer back to it as you move along.

What plans do you have for your second report?

We will proceed with the discussion at faculty meetings and continue our task force meetings. By the time we deliver our second report we would like to have reached some of our goals set forward in the first report, particularly with regards to leading by example as an institution, increased student involvement, and measuring progress by surveying faculty and students on their knowledge and attitude towards responsible management and sustainability. We won’t change the format much, but will embark upon attaining more depth. There will be more emphasis on research concerning responsible management education. We will also create more discussion among faculty members, students, business and society.

What are some initiatives mentioned in the report that you are particularly proud of that you are working on at RU?

After we signed up to the PRME principles we came up with the idea of rewarding students for responsible and sustainable business ideas in our Entrepreneurship and
Starting New Ventures course. Reporting on this student involvement was particularly enjoyable. Taking count of students views and attitudes towards sustainability through a research initiative of two faculty members is a very important part of monitoring this constant improvement process, and we will continue this effort and report on it in our next SIP. Last but not least, we thought it was very important to demonstrate, in our SIP, the variety of research projects that our faculty are conducting related to responsible management and sustainability.

To read Reykjavik University Business School’s SIP report click here. A Basic Guide to Sharing Information on Progress was also launched at the Global Forum and is available here. For more posts on SIPs click here.

The Future Corporation–The Future Business School

LEAD Symposium

Every year, a number of leading companies in the field of sustainability who make up the Global Compact LEAD group meet to discuss current issues and key trends and to shape future developments in this area. The 2014 LEAD Symposium challenges participants to sketch a vision of The Future Corporation, identifying key characteristics of what the sustainable corporation could and should look like in the future. They look to provide a beacon for the transition of the global business community that is already underway, fuelled by deeper integration of sustainability into strategies and operations.

On 20 November, LEAD companies want to hear from business school professors and students about their vision of The Future Corporation and invite the PRME community to engage via Twitter.ber, students are invited to watch the Live-stream and join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtags #FutureCorporation and #GCLEAD. The live Twitter feed will be displayed in the conference, and attendees in the room will be encouraged to engage in dialogue with those watching the live-stream: www.unglobalcompact.org/LEADSymposiumOnline.

To create The Future Corporation, we also need to explore The Future Business School. What kind of training is needed to ensure that future generations of employees, managers, and leaders have to create the future corporations we want and need? What, specifically, should future business schools look like, in terms of curriculum, partnerships, dialogues, campus greening, etc.?

“The Future Business School will have to serve an increasing number of stakeholder groups and, at the same time, have to survive in an increasingly competitive environment. The successful Future Business School copes with these challenges by combining academic rigor and relevance for society. Relevance for society includes, first of all, the learning experience of students; it includes the close interaction with companies but will also include, to a larger extent, services and cooperation with other relevant groups of civil society. This prepares students for careers in The Future Corporation, which will be a more social responsible corporation. However, there is no single best answer on the main characteristic of “The” Future Business School–rather the expectation is that diversity will increase. Personally, I would like to see business school graduates as people beneficial for society–like dentists (this is what J. M. Keynes formulated for economists). Business schools, as institutions, should be independent players that provide thought leadership and are acknowledged partners of companies, which are not only striving for profits but understand their more complex role in society.” – Prof. Dr. Rudi Kurz, Pforzheim University Business School, Germany

“The Future Business School needs to position itself as part of a broader ecosystem of partners, both within and outside of the university, exploring ideas and innovation. To facilitate this, students, faculty, and staff need to learn about opportunities and solutions together as part of a larger learning community. Our Queen’s Social Impact Academy is a co-created campus-wide learning platform for students and faculty and the source of existing and new traditional and online courses in the areas of social innovation and human-centred design.” Tina Dacin, Director, QSB Centre for Social Impact, Queen’s School of Business, Canada

Parts 2 and 3 of this series capture visions from PRME schools of what The Future Business School may look like. I encourage you to contribute your own.

 

For more ideas visit the Future MBA Project, a growing database of ideas from around the world on what the future of management education might/could/will look like.

Economic inequality and the role of companies – ESADE

ESADEWhy and how can companies contribute to the reduction of economic inequality in the world? This is the question that ESADE’s Global Integrative Module (GIM) aims to explore. In partnerships with business schools from around the globe, the module engages students from a variety of academic programmes in proposing concrete solutions to businesses around this topic. The GIM is a proud awardee of the Ideas to Innovation i2i 2012 Challenge of the GMAC Management Education for Tomorrow (MET) Fund, which supports big ideas designed to improve management education. I recently spoke with Anna Inesta Codina, the coordinator of the GIM project at ESADE, about this innovative project.

What is the Global Integrative Module?

The Global Integrative Module is an innovative learning experience that invites students to work in online virtual teams to propose solutions to a challenge of current social, political and economic relevance, by applying an integrated modular approach—combining relevant knowledge from the fields of Economics, People Management and Social Sciences. Ensuring both academic and cultural diversity, online virtual teams are composed of students from different academic programmes, namely BBA, MSc and MBA students from the participating business schools, ESADE (Spain), NYU Stern (US), SDA Bocconi (Italy) and Sogang University (the Republic of South Korea). Each team is assigned a web-based ‘virtual studio’ environment, which is designed to enhance shared knowledge-construction and problem-solving among the members of the international teams.

The proposed challenge asks students to consider themselves part of a team of professionals who have been contacted in order to elaborate a consultant report, and to answer the question, “Why and how can companies contribute to the reduction of economic inequality in the world?” Students are required to go beyond reflection to construct a personal and yet conceptually and practically justified action-oriented position that takes the form of a report to propose recommendations for companies, organisations, and governments to make the difference in solving the challenge. Students submit weekly learning journals related to their project and experiences, three preliminary deliverables in varying formats, and a final report with concrete proposals for companies and business schools.

You work with a range of international partners. How does the partnership work?

The GIM is a joint project between the four above-mentioned international business schools. For ESADE and Sogang University, the GIM is included in the curriculum as an elective course, while at NYU Stern and SDA Bocconi it has been embedded as a project within existing courses. In the 2013-2014 international edition of the GIM, 74 students representing 24 different nationalities took part, with 39% of participants from ESADE, 31% from NYU Stern, 11% from SDA Bocconi, and 19% from Sogang University.

Project Leaders from each of the business school partner institutions were involved in the design of the 2013-2014 implementation of the GIM, and monthly online coordination meetings were held to make decisions on important aspects of the course – such as the topic, task-design and assessment. Furthermore, during the implementation of the module, each business school had an in-house tutor whose job was to provide academic support to their online virtual teams.

What have been some of the challenges?

Designing a complex task that was challenging but not too far beyond students’ capabilities in terms of time and workload was a challenge. Indeed, the authenticity of the task, albeit successful in engaging students in processes that are very close to the kind of authentic challenge resolution they will be confronted with in their professional activity, was very demanding. Not all students were willing to invest the kind of energy (besides the time and effort) that making the most out of this learning opportunity would require, perhaps due to their decision to prioritise other academic responsibilities.

Coordination was also a big challenge given the large number of stakeholders involved in the module (students, Project Leaders, members of the ESADE academic team and tutors) and international nature of the module.

What about successes? 

Students’ feedback collected at the end of the module via a final reflection paper and an end of course survey was very positive. Specifically, students found the learning experience to be an opportunity to better understand relevant global issues, develop global competencies, foster team building skills and work in an international environment where they have the chance to adapt to different challenges. It contributed to students’ understanding of economic inequality as a global issue and of the role played by companies in reducing economic inequality.

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

Before deciding whether to implement a similar module, it is imperative not to underestimate:

  • The importance of institutional vision, as well as importance of personal networking to ensure the full commitment of the participating business schools: without the support of the corresponding departments at each of the schools, the fruitful partnership would not have been possible.
  • The value of true teamwork among the faculty participating in the learning experience: confidence, trust and flexibility are a must to ensure the kind of shared decision-making that is necessary for the project to succeed.

Moreover, when designing the learning task, it is important to:

  • Find the right balance between conceptual rigor and value-added practice
  • Reach a consensus as to the dates to start and end the project/course,
  • Agree on the kind and characteristics of the tools to apply to measure students’ learning

What is next for GIM?

Preparations are underway for the 2014-2015 GIM. We will be reducing the length of the course slightly to adjust to the academic calendars of all partner schools. The recruitment process will be more selective to ensure that all students are prepared and willing to dedicate the time and energy to the project. We are also working to strengthen the academic teams at each school so that students receive adequate support from tutors and professors.

All the changes proposed are designed to enhance students’ learning process and experience in the module, and they are not aimed at scaling up the module in terms of number of participating students. Given the challenging nature of the learning experience and the complexity involved from the coordination side, we are considering increasing the number of business schools participating as partners. This would ensure an even wider diversity of students’ profiles and, thus, an even more authentically international experience.

Implementing Sustainability Principles – Sharing Information on Progress (Feb/March)

Students from Auckland University of Technology Business School

Students from Auckland University of Technology Business School

Every month, several new Sharing Information on Progress (SIP) reports come across my desk. These SIP reports are full of interesting and innovative projects aimed at embedding the Principles of PRME across campus. In this series of blogs, I will feature just a small selection of these projects taken from recently submitted reports. This month, we take a look at examples – as they fit into each of the Six Principles of PRME – from New Zealand, France, Belgium, South Africa, Brazil, Columbia and Canada.

  1. Purpose: Auckland University of Technology Business School, New Zealand

The Auckland University of Technology Business School’s mission is to prepare its graduates for the changing world. Social responsibility and ethics are built into learning goals in both the undergraduate and graduate levels with the goal of creating graduates that think and act ethically. Sustainability and responsible business practice is a key topic in the first semester of study with substantial papers on the topic required from students throughout their programme. Students are also required to reflect on their ethical decision-making and discuss processes or issues that they observed during their nine week work placement.

  1. Values: Groupe Sup de Co Montpellier Business School, France

GSCMBS has been granted the French diversity label (AFNOR), which is awarded to institutions that fight against discrimination and educate all students regardless of their origins and social situations. The school has integrated diversity into its mission, teaching, and research. It has a range of different programmes in this area including a network of referees for counseling that can accommodate each student and adapt curriculum according to their needs (such as disability, young parenting, top athlete, illness, stress needs, and so on). This topic is led by the Human Resources, Diversity, and CSR Direction Department at the school.

  1. Method: Louvain School of Management, Belgium

Since 2012, students from Louvain School of Management have organised the LSM Cup: Ethics in Business – a business game focusing on CSR. This inter-faculty, multidisciplinary game consists of solving case studies in realistic situations, by teams of four students from both the Bachelor and Master’s programmes. During the two-day event, students must address four different challenges presented by specific companies, applying the theme of corporate social responsibility to the main aspects of management: finance, marketing, sourcing and procurement, and strategy. The game is sponsored by a range of business and not for profit partners.

  1. Research: Gordon Institute of Business Science, South Africa

In 2013, the Gordon Institute of Business Science became the host organisation of the Network for Business Sustainability, South Africa, in partnership with the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town, increasing the academic community’s ability to support sustainable development in the economy through vigorous academic research into business challenges in sustainable development, conducted in partnership with leading private sector companies, non-profit organisations, and the South African government. The partnership is motivated by the need to enhance collaboration between business and sustainability researchers, and between practitioners and researchers, in South Africa and beyond.

  1. Partnerships: National Service of Industrial Apprenticeship in Parana in Brazil

SENAI in Parana is part of the Curitiba International Schools for Urban Sustainability (CISUS) Project. The project is a partnership, involving the City of Curitiba and a range of Universities in the city, which aims to produce and share knowledge, innovative ideas, and skills around sustainable cities. It is based on the city of Curitiba’s urban management experience, knowledge shared by respected educational institutions, innovation, and its constant search for improvements. The city intends to broaden the connection between industries and academic and professional knowledge, through experiences in urban sustainability. For SENAI, this is also an opportunity to connect students with planning and decision-making processes in sustainable urban management.

  1. Dialogue: Universidad EAFIT, Columbia,

In 2013, the Trade, Investment and Development Observatory was created with the support of the virtual institute of the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD). UNCTAD’s mission is to promote inclusive and sustainable development in international trade. The Observatory at EAFIT is organised by students from different schools across the university who regularly write short articles focused on UNCTAD’s work and policies. To find out more visit http://tradelatam.blogspot.com

+ Organisational Practices: British Columbia Institute of Technology, Canada

The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) has a fund it calls the Revolving Fund for Sustainability, which provides no-interest loans for internal projects that save energy, conserve water, reduce waste, and/or lower operating costs. Additionally, their is a volunteer group of employees at the school, the Green Team, keen on inspiring change from the ground up. Following the team’s successful Heat Savers initiative that called on staff to combat wasted heat at BCIT, they are now in the midst of a new green commuting campaign, Commute Smart,  which encourages students and staff to leave their cars at home and use public transport, bikes, carpools or their own two feet to get to campus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning by Doing at Gustavson School of Business

MIISThe first week of a new school year is an opportunity to bring students together to meet and learn from each other. It is also an opportunity to send strong messages to students about the school’s approach to business education – in this case sustainability issues in business education. At University of Victoria Gustavson School of Business in Canada, they have combined these opportunities to create an innovative one-day programme called MIIISsion Impossible, which engages and empowers students to build a social responsible business idea in teams.

I had the chance to speak with Sheryl Karras, the Director of Administration of the Bachelor of Commerce Programme about MIIISsion Impossible.

Briefly describe the Gustavson School of Business’s approach to sustainability and responsible management

At Gustavson, we have four pillars that support everything we do. But the term “pillar” is a bit misleading, because the pillars – Integrative, Innovative, International, and Sustainable/Socially Responsible (IIIS) – are not separate entities. Really, they’re woven together like a terrific web.

What is MIIISsion Impossible?

MIIISsion Impossible is an example of the way that Gustavson integrates sustainability into education with cultural considerations, community involvement, and team building. We devote one day of our week-long orientation in which our Bachelor of Commerce students are assigned to teams of four or five, with at least one international or exchange student, to the programme. The teams have a morning to brainstorm and hone an innovative sustainable or socially responsible business idea or concept that would be a good fit in the country of the international team member. After a whirlwind four hours, they create a display board to explain their idea. Finally they pitch their concepts to academic, community, and business judges. The judges assess the presentations and ideas based on specific criteria, fill out score sheets, and then the top scorers move on to a final round of pitches in front of everyone.

How did it come about?

We wanted to give our students an opportunity, right from the start of the programme, to learn by doing and more specifically to experience our core concepts of IIIS. It was natural to create an activity that would focus on sustainability fostering creative ideas, and provide an opportunity for students to work in teams. As well, we have an extensive exchange programme and a significant number of international students. We wanted to highlight the international nature of our programme, which we accomplish by putting our international students in a lead role for this activity.

When we connected those dots with our core Business and Sustainability course and a very strong school-wide practice of experiential learning, it made sense to create an opportunity that achieve these multiple goals at once.

The students meet each other, and immediately they have to cooperate and draw on the strengths and experiences of each team member. They have the freedom to be creative and design a business concept that could work in the international sphere. The outcomes always impress the faculty and community judges because the students get so excited about their ideas and present them with great passion.

What are some examples of the projects?

One great idea came from a team with a member from China. They decided to do something about the 45 billion wooden chopsticks that go to landfill every year in that country. They figured the wood could be upcycled into fibreboard that could be used to create furniture. Some of the original team members were so excited about the idea that they didn’t stop when they won MIIISsion Impossible (where their prizes included books and chocolate bars). They continued to develop their concept, and by February they’d been whisked to Toronto to present to six of Canada’s top CEOs in the finals of the Walmart Green Student Challenge. Their second-place prize included that invaluable face-time plus $15,000!

Another exciting MIIISsion Impossible concept was electric taxiing motors in aircraft wheels that would save 2,400 litres of fuel per flight plus allow planes access to remote airfields with less-than-immaculate landing strips.

That team also liked their idea so much that they kept working together and eventually beat 500 teams from around the globe to go to the second round of Airbus’s Fly Your Ideas contest.

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

This is a great activity to bring students, faculty, and community together to generate excitement and enthusiasm, and immediately put into action who we are as a school. We have chosen to tie this activity closely to our orientation, which has served us well, as it relies on a key group to undertake the event and provides an opportunity for students to very quickly get immersed in the philosophy/pillars of our school. The concept is quite straight-forward, but it is a big event that requires a lot of support from many people – inside and outside of the programme. It is important to keep the event focused, and to ensure that all of the support is in place to guarantee its success.

What are the next steps?

In 2014, our BCom programme is expanding from four cohorts of 60 students each to five cohorts of 60 students. Logistically, that means finding a bigger venue for MIIISsion Impossible – we’ve already outgrown the biggest space on campus.

Creating an Integrated Report – Euromed Management

2011-2012 Euromed Integrated ReportBusiness schools and universities around the world have been putting together their sustainability efforts into comprehensive sustainability reports. These reports provide the opportunity to engage the school community and provide an overview of activities and a baseline for future activities.

Schools themselves take a variety of approaches regarding the organisation of their reports. A growing number of companies are creating integrated reports. According to the International Integrated Reporting Committee, “integrated reporting demonstrates the linkages between an organisation’s strategy, governance and financial performance and the social, environmental and economic context within which it operates.” Euromed Management in France is one of the few business schools that produces an integrated report, and I recently had the chance to speak to Tashina Giraud, Sustainable Development Manager, about her experiences.

1. Why did Euromed Management decide to take this approach?

Incorporating broader indicators into the sustainable development matrix allows for a better understanding of the complex relationship between financial and extra-financial performance. It also serves as a management tool so that we have a clearer vision of the risks and opportunities of our strategy.

We firmly believe that quality reporting leads to better decision making and more sustainable performance. Euromed Management’s integrated report looks like an average corporate report. Its uniqueness comes from its structure and content. Divided into four main chapters, the report covers our strategy, our spheres of activity, our performance and stakeholder contributions. The heart of the report is found in the second chapter that is structured around our sustainability strategy, or Green Plan.

 2. What is the French Green Plan and how does it affect the school?

The French Green Plan is a sustainability assessment tool developed for and by higher education institutions. The French Green Plan was launched in June 2010 by the presidents of the “Conférence des Grandes Ecoles” (French Business and Engineering Schools) and the “Conférence des Présidents d’Universités (Public Universities), the French Minister for Higher Education and Research and the French Minister for Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea. It identified sustainable development plans for higher education institutions. In 2009, a law was passed in France that obligates higher education institutions to report their “Green Plan” every year to the ministries.

For the past three years, we have based our analysis on sustainable development indicators within our “Green Plan,” which are divided into five categories: strategy and governance, teaching and training, research activities, social policy and community involvement, and environmental management.

3. How has the integrated report been received? What have been your successes? Challenges?

In 2012-2013 we published our second integrated report and it has been even better received than the first edition. The integrated report allows us to reach a larger audience than our traditional report did. It also demonstrates the coherence between the school’s strategy, communications, and actions.

We continue to receive letters and emails from organizations such as UNESCO and PRME congratulating us on this innovative and transparent reporting method. But this recognition is not our greatest success. What is incredible is that this report truly comes from our entire school, not just the sustainability department. It has been a great to tool for federating and inspiring interest in sustainability actions.

Our greatest challenge was centralising a large quantity of information and effectively communicating on our findings, – for example, finding the balance between corporate reporting and sustainability reporting.


4. What advice do you have for others looking into integrated reporting?

Start with a quality sustainability assessment tool. Sustainability is such a transversal topic that it is a good base for reporting. It also helps structure the report in an easily understandable and credible manner.

Another key notion to remember is that of transparency. The goal of this integrated report is to be exhaustive and frank with the reader. It is not a tool for Green Washing and simply valorising a school’s actions. You also have to recognize when you have not met expectations.


5. What’s next for Euromed Management?

This is a critical year for our school and the last year that we will be known as “Euromed Management.” We are currently merging with Bordeaux’s management school and we will soon be called “Kedge Business School.” This means that the next integrated report must not only integrate financial and extra-financial information – it must also merge the reporting of two different schools. Luckily for us, Bordeaux also uses the Green Plan for its reporting.

Online and connected: Creating a Sustainable Campus using Apps – (part 2)

Online learningOrganizations around the world, from business to NGOs to individuals, are creating apps for smart phones. These mobile apps enable people to connect to networks, get access to real time data, receive feedback and understand information in a visual way.

Although these apps are not focused specifically on university campuses, they are easily used in green campus initiatives. In the first part of this series we looked at apps that help reduce paper, water, energy and waste. Here we look at apps dedicated to procurement, motivation, travel and sustainable cities. To finish off, next week we’ll discuss some thoughts on what business schools can do to meet these challenges.

Motivation

Go Green provides one tip a day on how to be more green. Green Me lists up to five ways you can be more environmentally friendly daily. iGrowit gives information on what vegetables are good to plant right now and gives tips on how to grow your own garden.  Everybody Walk App helps individuals develop personalized walking plans, connect with walking communities and learn the latest fitness trends.

Procurement

National Green Pages in the US is a listing of thousands of businesses that have made commitments to sustainable principles. Similar apps are available in a range of other countries and communities. GoodGuide provides health, environmental and social performance ratings for a range of consumer products.  The Seafood Watch app provides recommendations for ocean-friendly seafood at your favorite restaurants and stores. Locvaore gives in season, local food options and provides links to farmer’s markets.

Travel

FleetMatics lets you track your company vehicles (cars, trucks etc.) to help control fuel costs and maximize the efficient use of your vehicles. GreenMeter computes your vehicle’s power and fuel use, and evaluates your driving to increase efficiency. Green Travel Choice allows you to see the greenhouse gas emissions that are generated by your journeys, using nine typical modes of transport, such as planes, subways and cars of various sizes. GreenGlobe App search for sustainable resorts, hotels, conference centers, attractions, tour experiences and TripSketch Green Book provides options for eco-friendly restaurants around the world. Bike Pooling is looking to make cities more bike friendly by forming “car pools” for bikers by connecting you with others who are making a similar bike commute each morning. If you have an extra room you are willing to rent to students or travellers you can post it on airbnb which will connect you with individuals looking for a room.

Sustainable Cities

Pollution provides information about local pollution sources. AirNow gives real time air quality information for wherever you are including air quality forecasts for both ozone and fine particle pollution. Ecological Urbanism provides a range of examples from around the world of urban sustainability projects.

What apps do you use in your business school? Have you developed any apps to help drive your sustainability efforts? Share your experiences in the discussion board.

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