Creating Students Passionate about Social Responsibility – Lomonosov Moscow State University (Part 2)

stud_zhizn1-235One of the main requirements for putting in place successful programmes that really engage students in sustainability is a passionate team of enthusiastic individuals. Lomonosov Moscow State University Business School in Moscow, Russia definitely has that. The result has been a range of different programmes that aim to involve students in a number of social projects throughout their undergraduate degrees.

I spoke with Natalia Bukhshtaber, Associate Dean for Academic Programmes and International Affairs, Natalia Sharabarina, Director of Social Education and Nina Koryakina, Supervisor of Social Education Programmes about their initiatives, in particular the Diary for Social Responsibility, and the impact this has had on their students.

What is the Diary of Social Responsibility?

Diary of Social Responsibility is an initiative we started a year ago and it has grown into a more comprehensive project. We realised that there was a need to address social responsibility issues earlier in the programme, during the first and the second years of study, since our Business Ethics and CSR courses are introduced during the third year. Two years ago we started a volunteering project for first year students and the Social Responsibility Diary for second year students.

The Diary of Social Responsibility course focuses on individual social responsibility, the importance of individual values, and corporate philanthropy, aspects that we consider prerequisite to our Business Ethics and CSR courses. Within this initiative, the students learn from and meet with a variety of charity foundations. They complete a number of Small Action projects with these groups to gain experience on implementing social projects. They are then prompted to reflect and discuss the experience in small group and one-on-one setting and to write about them in a Diary.

How did the course come about?

In our initial talks with the students, we encountered a number of stereotypes we wanted to challenge. These included:

  • Social responsibility is for ‘special people’ like social workers, religious workers, etc. I am not one of these; therefore, why should I be involved?
  • Volunteering is for people who have plenty of spare time. I am not one of these; therefore, why should I be involved?
  • Philanthropy is for rich people or celebrities who have plenty of spare money. I am not one of these; therefore, why should I be involved?
  • Social projects mean a personal encounter with dying children or deformed elderly or someone like this. It will clearly be a traumatic experience, and I don’t welcome it.

Most of these stereotypes were due to the fact that, despite media coverage of social initiatives, many of our students had not had any exposure of social projects. We realised that the exposure had to be limited so we came up with Small Actions strategy, providing small groups of students with clear, realistic, measurable tasks, so they would see that, once you become socially responsible (or, you become aware of social responsibility), you can always find ways to practice social responsibility, and even small deeds can make a big difference.

What do the students put in their diary?

The original idea was for them to reflect on every event they participated in. This proved a bit difficult for a number of reasons. Firstly, journaling in general is not common in Russia. This year, in planning our new course (which is now required), we decided to ask the students to make presentations based on their reflections.

Personal discussions proved to be more informative than writing in diaries, either one-on-one or in small groups. During these, we discussed how their perspective on socially meaningful projects, volunteering, philanthropy, and NGOs was changing. We saw that some of their former assumptions were challenged and revisited.

What have been some insights from this initiative?

One of the interesting discoveries was that the students’ attitude toward social responsibility did not correlate with their academic achievement and education background. Some of our students who were not doing well academically became our ‘heroes’ and we saw a totally different side of them. Some of the people who had discipline issues took their Small Actions very seriously.

The biggest outcome of the project, perhaps, was the students’ initiative to do something bigger and on our own. Once they got engaged in Small Actions, the main question they had was “Can we do something bigger?” We ended up organising our very first Charity Gala to benefit one of the foundations we were cooperating with in the project. The second year students who were the core team and they really took charge of the event. At the end of the Gala, we raised over 330,000 RUB (nearly 5,500 Euros) for an elderly home in the Tambov Region. At the end of the year, when we asked for students’ feedback about the academic year (our regular practice), quite a few responses were, “We are incredibly proud that we were part of the Charity Gala and we hope the work will continue.”

What advice do you have for other schools interested in putting in place something similar?

You have to believe in social responsibility and practice it yourself rather than try to reproduce something that worked somewhere else. Every student body is unique and you need to find something that will truly resonate with your student community. However, do not be afraid to try something that is totally new. When we were starting, the core team got together and we said, “We may make all the possible mistakes we can make here but we are going to learn from that and make it better next year.”

Secondly, we saw the benefits of the Small Actions approach. In a situation where students had never participated in anything of the sort, most of them felt insecure and hesitant to try. The point is not to scare them off but suggest something that looks like fun and something they would be willing to try.

Thirdly, keep praising your students. Find ways to let your student body know of the special things that were done by their fellow students and even letting the parents know.

Fourthly, you need to find dedicated people among your faculty and staff who would really take this to heart. Do not ‘assign’ it to someone who does not really grasp the essence of what you are doing or is reluctant to be involved. See who of those supervising the project will be in charge of the ‘PR part’ of it. Proper and effective communication with the student body, other faculty and staff, and the third parties involved is crucial. You don’t want to alienate people or confront them (even if you want to challenge some of their assumptions), you want understanding and cooperation. Find the person on the team who is a good (great would be better) motivational speaker.

What are some initiatives happening at Lomonosov that you are particularly proud of in the area of PRME/Sustainability/Responsible Management?

The Ostafyevo Volunteering Initiative. Ostafyevo is a museum housed in a historical mansion in the suburbs of Moscow. Due to lack of media attention and effective PR practices, the museum had very low visibility, it was known mostly to the people of the local community. Our school started a volunteering project where, once a month, students go to the museum to help with a range of tasks (cleaning, sweeping the park, etc.) and to learn more about the museum. The students organise a special event to promote the museum (a concert, a photo contest, etc.) and at the end of the year student teams present business ideas that would help increase the museum’s visibility and attract sponsors, while not compromising the museum’s values and the mansion’s environment.

 

For more on Lomonosov Moscow State University Business School’s approach to sustainability and responsible management click here.

Business School Response to the Refugee Crisis

refugeesSixty million people have been displaced by conflict and over 410,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean from the Middle East so far this year. Although the primary responsibility for peace rests with governments, the urgency of the global refugee crisis is a challenge that requires support from all actors in society on a short-, mid- and long-term basis.

One month ago today the PRME Secretariat, together with AACSB, AABS, ABIS, AMBA, CEEMAN, CLADEA, EFMD, GMAC, GRLI and EAUC issued a call to action to business schools and management-related higher education institutions (HEIs) in response to the refugee crisis. The call was made in response to a similar call made by the UN Global Compact and the UN Refugee Agency for business to take action.

The leaders of the international academic community were called to take action and address the refugee crisis by providing access to scholarships to business and entrepreneurship related classes and knowledge resources to refugees but also by raising awareness and understanding regarding the situation of refugees, and foster social cohesion. By joining forces with business, governments, UN agencies, civil society organisations and/or other HEIs, business schools can forge long-term partnerships for education and sustainable development.

The following are just a few of the many ways that business schools are responding to this crisis.

Through Collaborative Solutions

The Centre for Education on Social Responsibility at the Leeds School of Business, CU Boulder (USA) is taking a leadership role by convening relevant groups (local government, non-profits, businesses, and business schools) to address the topic of the responsibility of business and business schools to help address the refugee crisis. The meetings will consider the economic stability, employment for refugees and benefits to local employers within the Denver and Boulder business and civic communities.

By Engaging Students and Staff

ALBA Graduate Business School (Greece) collected information on how individuals can help the incoming refugees that was sent to all students, alumni, faculty and staff. Among other things, it gave directions on how to collect items and send them to the NGOs. ALBA has already offered an MBA full scholarship to a young refugee from Africa

The French Education & Research Ministry made a recent appeal to universities in France to propose solutions and actions that would facilitate the welcoming and integration of Syrian, Iraqi and Eritrean refugees. Grenoble Ecole de Management (France) has extended their criteria for the school’s volunteer skills-sharing policy to encourage GEM employees to dedicate 1- 5 days a year of their work-time to help welcome and integrate newly arrived refugees in collaboration with local associations and humanitarian organisations. GEM’s annual Geopolitical Festival in March 2016 will also highlight this urgent issue by hosting a range of activities focused that will examine and discuss the causes, the consequences and potential sustainable and human-focused solutions to this global crisis.

Engaging Refugees

Roughly 3000 refugees are accommodated in Leipzig at an emergency camp located next campus. HHL – Leipzig Graduate School of Management (Germany) opened a collecting point for donations, which are allocated to the refugees. Financial donations received via their graduate students will be used to purchase picture dictionaries in order to support language efforts. Fifteen language interpreters from across campus coordinated the matching of language interpreters with activities. One of these activities is “Neighbour meets Neighbour”, where the refugees can introduce their regional food to students and staff on campus and get in touch with the community. Another initiative has also been put in place to host indoor activities for the refugees at campus, such as a seminar room for a Refugee Law Clinic. HHL is currently organising a field project where students will work for three months with refugee support coordination bodies and a PhD thesis is underway focusing on opportunities and challenges of labour market inclusion for Germany is also in progress. The School is also planning trainings and mini courses aimed at supporting the necessary qualifications of the refugees.

Through Coursework

Hanken School of Economics (Finland) hosts the Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Research Institute (HUMLOG Institute), which is a joint research institute founded by Hanken School of Economics and the National Defence University of Finland. The aim of the HUMLOG Institute is to “to research the area of humanitarian logistics in disaster preparedness, response and recovery with the intention of influencing future activities in a way that will provide measurable benefits to persons requiring assistance”. Through this Institute, Hanken offers a course on humanitarian logistics and students in the course have been encouraged to volunteer to help in coping with the current refugee crisis. They are currently exploring the opportunity to have one project on the refugee crisis in the course this year.

Scholarships

  • Alfred Nobel Open Business School (China) will provide five scholarships to their online e-MBA for registered and selected refugees having business background.
  • Euclid University (Gambia) will be announcing specific full and partial scholarship programmes for qualifying displaced persons and refugees.
  • Haaga-Helia University (Finland) has a proposal a special intake for refugees to study entrepreneurship, languages, sales and service skills as well as career planning. After these studies, they could be admitted as regular students.
  • ESAN Graduate School of Business (Peru) will offer three scholarships to refugees.
  • University of Warsaw (Poland) will provide an access to business and entrepreneurship related classes and a number of scholarships will be offered.
  • University of Strathclyde Business School (UK) is developing a scholarship with the Scottish Refugee Council intended to help asylum seekers and those staying in the UK on humanitarian grounds.
  • SDA Bocconi School of Management (Italy) already offers two open courses (strategy and finance) free of charge aimed at increasing the employability of young people. This course will now also be open to refugees.
  • Grenoble Ecole de Management (France) will offer admission to 5-10 qualified student refugees to study in one of the schools’ programmes.

 

To submit your pledge visit https://business.un.org/pledge_refugee_crisis

Creating an Interdisciplinary Sustainability Research Network – University of Nottingham

SRN PhotoA growing number of research projects are falling under the broad topic of sustainability. How can a university facilitate stronger connections between these different projects across departments and fields throughout the university, and empower researchers already involved and interested in these topics?

A number of PhD students at the University of Nottingham created the Sustainability Research Network, a dynamic network of early career researchers from across disciplines, working on, or with an interest in sustainability, to create these connections. I spoke with Gabriela Gutierrez at the university, who provided more information about this innovative project.

What is the Sustainability Research Network?

The Sustainability Research Network (SRN) is a dynamic network of early career researchers at the University of Nottingham working on, or interested in sustainability. Today, the network comprises over 300 postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers, lecturers and other early career research staff from a broad range of disciplines across all faculties.

SRN exists to provide fora for interdisciplinary discussion and collaboration around sustainability across all disciplines, including but not limited to: Archaeology, Architecture and the Built Environment, Biology, Biomolecular Sciences, Bioscience, Business, Chemical Engineering and Mechanics, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, Education, Electrical Engineering, Environmental Engineering/Technology, English, Geography, Horizon Digital Economy Research, Institute for Science and Society, Institute of Mental Health, Maths, Politics and Sociology. SRN aims to support early career researchers in their personal and professional development providing opportunities for networking, learning and enhancement of skills and employability; and to stimulate academic excellence in the field of sustainability through capacity building and knowledge exchange.

How did it come about?

SRN was established in late 2012 and launched in May 2013 by five PhD students looking to create more opportunities for early career researchers working on sustainability in different disciplines to meet each other. Prior to the launch of SRN there were few informal or formal opportunities for researchers interested in sustainability to meet one another and share ideas and expertise across disciplines. SRN is currently supported and driven by a committee of eight postgraduate and early career researchers and PhD students.

The Committee organises regular events, maintains communications channels and provides opportunities for networking and collaboration across all disciplines, schools and campuses.

What has the Network done so far?

To date, the Committee has organised various events involving many researchers within our network across disciplines. The launch event in May 2013 was attended by over forty researchers across more than twenty schools/departments. Subsequent events have included external speaker lecture sessions, early career researcher-led events in association with the graduate school, external visits, and informal networking events. SRN also provides communications channels for members to share news and opportunities, to seek information, to make connections and to discuss topics of interest.

All of these events provide opportunities for researchers to learn about other fields related to sustainability and to make connections with their own work, either by presenting their work (or an aspect of it), or through a lively and engaging discussion—developing ideas and forming relationships across the disciplines represented. Some events have specifically asked participants to reflect on the challenges and benefits of interdisciplinary research in sustainability around various topics and have resulted in lively and engaging discussions. These presentations have developed ideas and formed relationships across the disciplines represented.

We have enabled members to contribute to the University of Nottingham’s broader sustainability strategy and, in particular, to online learning initiatives. SRN members have facilitated the innovative Nottingham Open Online Course (NOOC) on sustainability, which introduces different disciplinary perspectives on sustainability to undergraduate and postgraduate students across the university. SRN members also facilitated ‘Sustainability, Society and You’, a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) open to those outside of University of Nottingham, as well as the International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility’s NOOC in Sustainable and Responsible Business.

What have been some of the challenges? Successes?

Members are students or postdocs at the university for on average three years. Due to the nature and timeline of the programme, we are confronted with a number of questions: Given the turnover, how can we encourage ownership of the network by members as well as the committee? Given the diversity of research on sustainability, and even the diversity of meanings of sustainability itself, what sorts of collaboration can we realistically attempt to foster within the limited time frame of potential SRN activities? How do we create a flexible structure that will enable interested individuals to collaborate on one-off events? How do we develop greater and more independent collaboration between SRN members, to take forward the network and contribute to organising future events? How do we develop links/affiliations with similar groups at other universities, as well as with our international campuses? These are some of the challenging questions that we have been trying to address.

We have had many successes so far and a lot of support from senior stakeholders at the university. There are already more than 300 researchers in the network from at least 22 departments, and more than £2900 has been awarded to date to support the 13 events we have held since May 2012. Additionally we have been developing links with our other campuses in Malaysia and China. The network has been developing its communication channels as well, with email, Twitter (@SResearchNet), Facebook and a blog.

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

The significance of thinking strategically: From early on we contacted senior members of academic staff as well as other contacts across the university to let them know what we were trying to do, and to request their support. This has been helpful for overcoming bureaucratic hurdles, for raising the credibility of SRN, as well as creating opportunities to publicise the network and organise joint events.

The importance of listening to our members: The SRN has set up ways of getting members’ feedback and in response to that feedback we have organised different kinds of events across the university and with outside partners. Our events are structured to enable participants to meet lots of different people, with time available for discussion, and new perspectives and approaches introduced by external speakers.

Formal versus informal structure: We decided not to become an official university society. This would have secured us administrative support and funding opportunities, but SRN would then have had to adhere to an inflexible constitutional structure and would not have had the full independence that SRN currently enjoys. However, some level of formality is still required, for example having a named committee to ensure that responsibility is taken for driving the network, and we are currently considering the strategic advantage of having an advisory board of more senior staff members.

Set some time aside: Connecting both offline (face to face discussions) and online (email, google drive) is important—finding a good balance depends on the availability and working styles of the team. It is important to appreciate the variety of work falling under the umbrella of sustainability, and take the opportunity to learn about projects other people are working on.

Develop skills: There is a broad range of useful skills, experiences and knowledge that each committee member, and also network member, brings to the network, and it is important to realise their personal and professional development motivations for involvement. It has not just been about what we already knew how to do, but what we were willing to learn and what could be beneficial to us in the future.

Not to underestimate the time commitment required to set up an initiative like this: There are a huge number of tasks to keep up with. We do not have tightly defined roles for committee members, rather we are flexible and individuals are able to take a back seat for short periods when data collection, thesis writing or job interviews need to be put first, during which time the rest of the team takes the lead.

For more information on the Sustainability Research Network at the University of Nottingham visit http://sresearchnet.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

The Future Corporation – The Future Business School (part 2)

LEAD SymposiumThe 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, the PRME community is invited to watch the Live-stream and join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtags #FutureCorporation and #GCLEAD.

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.?

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. (To view part 1 click here)

“Sustainability today is a fast evolving concept. If I have to summarise priorities on how PRME schools could best serve corporations committed to sustainability in the foreseeable future, I would choose thought leadership in the following areas. First, sustainability in the future will have to inspire and guide innovation and digitalization within corporations. Second, the aftermath of the 2007-2008 financial crisis presents us with growing inequalities of income and wealth, weakened middle classes, and obvious cracks in the social contract. Corporations will need to step up their responsible behaviour and effectively contribute to the resolution of this state of affairs. Third, with the advent of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), corporate sustainability will move to a new level. Corporations will have to imagine a new practice of goal-setting: sustainable companies will be evaluated not only with respect to their relations to stakeholders and their reporting excellence but by the extent to which they contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. Finally, the SDGs will have to be “grounded” in the specific situations of each country. It is my belief that in each one of these four new challenges, thought leadership from committed academics could become a powerful ally of the innovative efforts of sustainable corporations.” – Manuel Escudero, Director Global Center for Sustainable Business, Deusto Business School, Spain

“The Future Business School will create intrapreneurs who have mastery in the art of change management. Graduates will not only understand global issues but will appreciate that the recommendations they put forth will not be implemented unless people have bought into their ideas at every level of the organisation, down to the level where the actual execution of the change will occur. At the Haas School of Business, students are not just learning about the issues (for example, with our Global Megatrends course) but are also exploring, testing, and even putting into place innovative solutions to the world’s business challenges (for example, through our “Intrapreneurship for Sustainability” course).” – Christina Meinberg, Associate Director Center for Responsible Business, University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business, USA

“When students enter our institutions they bring a wealth of experience already gained during their young lives. More importantly, they bear open questions and are searching for answers to unresolved riddles, in particular concerning the pressing global issues of our times: waste of resources, climate change, losses of biodiversity, poverty, and humanitarian crises. Future business schools will tap into this intrinsic motivation by offering innovative formats where open debate on these issues may unfold, enabling the development of creative responses and practical ways to move forward on their solutions by prototyping innovative models. They turn into living labs, interacting with the wider societal context and relevant stakeholder groups, where teaching staff–instead of offering prefabricated answers in edited formats derived from their disciplines–take the role of co-creators of social innovation. Hence, education aims at creating inventors, enablers, as well as enactors of social change. The role of research is to derive practical theories of social change, where insights gained from applied open innovation projects are operationalised, (re-)confirmed, and tested. In these collaborative spaces, students share the attitude that improvements for our world out of business schools will only occur if they are given the chance to materialise by means of creative experimentation while making use of inherent systemic levers. We are attempting this through our Student HUB for social innovation, a collaborative initiative of University of Tübingen, Germany, and HTW Chur, Switzerland.” Lutz E. Schlange, University of Applied Sciences HTW Chur, Switzerland

“The Future Business School functions as a partner to business, continuously inspiring each other’s management and leadership needs. Besides being a support in leadership development, the business school must be able to assist in resolving issues at short notice. Functional topics will be integrated with topics and methods that promote creativity, imagination, inspiration, and the use of senses, because the red line for business will be sustainable innovation. For that reason, we have a film director and a gallery owner on the IEDC faculty list. Business leadership or corporate governance will have three major aspects: organisational effectiveness, power distribution, and ethical drive. The business school will also look different. IEDC is already also a gallery, not as a showcase, but as a place where art and leadership development can be integrated. Most of the future programmes will be executed as workshops and at outside locations, in order to have a greater impact. At IEDC, we are trying to continuously look for new answers to what leadership is and will be in the future, for example through our upcoming 2015 Academic Conference “Leadership: Today & Tomorrow”.”- Danica Purg, Dean, IEDC-Bled School of Management, Slovenia

“For some, the global financial crisis of 2008 and the worst recession since the ‘Great Depression’ was, in effect, the fault of business schools. Well, maybe not business schools per se, but certainly strong criticism has been levelled at MBAs, and a curriculum focussed primarily on corporate and personal gain, regardless. Not surprising then, we have since seen many B-schools try to soften their image, at least a little, by extolling the virtues of responsible business. But other than that, has anything really changed? The odd lecture or even course on responsible business is a step, but that’s often more symbolic–a ‘fig-leaf’ as it were, rather than real transformation. As others have suggested elsewhere, what we really need to do is change culture, where responsibility and sustainability become truly embedded as part of our corporate DNA. Great, but cultures grow, cultures evolve; they don’t ‘change on a dime’ (and universities are even slower)! As a start at least, at Guelph we’ve adapted the motto ‘Leaders for a Sustainable World’: aspirational for sure, and we’re certainly not alone in this quest. But these are just words: aspirational statements won’t get us very far, and we need to ‘walk the talk’ if we’re going to really affect change. So that’s what we’re doing. Our students are learning through experience about ‘business for good,’ for example, through ‘Micro-Tyco,’ where they become an entrepreneur to help fund an entrepreneur in the developing world by generating funds for micro-finance.”- Kerry Godfrey, Associate Dean College of Business and Economics, University of Guelph, Canada

“The Future Business School will be a place where profit is only part one. Students will know that, for each business action, there must be a part two: social benefit. Today, that concept is understood and enthusiastically embraced by some students—but not all. The business school of the future will turn the tables, changing the 10 percent exception into the 90 percent rule. Some of that change will be out of necessity. A 2010 Forbes study identified 17 social and environmental initiatives that consumers expect of “good companies.” As that number grows, students in all business fields will need to master corporate social responsibility. The International Energy Association forecasts carbon dioxide emissions to increase 20 percent more by 2035, affecting the climate in ways that will become urgent to business students, no matter what their academic track. Another piece of the change, however, will come from business schools themselves, as ethics and strong values become factors that all business schools realise they must put front and centre—not just some. That is already sewn into Fordham’s identity; we are grateful for our selection as an Ashoka Changemaker Campus.” – Donna Rapaccioli, Dean, Fordham Gabelli School of Business, USA

 

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.

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.

Global Compact Principles – Human Rights – Teaching Materials

The United Nations Global Compact is an initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption. By doing so, business, as a primary driver of globalisation, can help ensure that markets, commerce, technology, and finance advance in ways that benefit economies and societies everywhere.

The UNGC and PRME put forth an Open Letter calling on academic institutions to educate future managers and leaders on the first two principles, both derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and

Principle 2: Business should make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.

The letter calls on schools to develop new courses and curricula around the topic of human rights. Academic Institutions are invited to sign the open letter through the Global Compact website.

The UN Global Compact has put together an incredible range of resources to assist companies in human rights, many of which can also be used by business schools, not only in CSR courses, but across all core courses. Here is a brief overview of just some of the resources available through the UN Global Compact and PRME around Human Rights.

DilemmasForumThe Human Rights and Business Dilemmas Forum is an online space aimed at stimulating discussion about dilemmas multi-national companies may face in their efforts to respect and support human rights, when operating in emerging economies. It holds a wide range of resources that can be used in the classroom, including dilemmas for discussion, case studies from UN Global Compact members and discussion boards, and even PowerPoint modules that can be used in training. The site covers a wide range of different topics within human rights including but not limited to forced labour, privacy, working hours, conflict minerals, and freedom of association.

human-rights-and-business-learning-toolAnother resource is the Human Rights & Business Learning Tool. This is an online course aimed to help managers in companies to understand the importance and relevance of human rights. The course consists of five modules: an introduction to human rights, respecting and supporting human rights, complicity, and remedy, including dispute resolution. Each module includes text to read, links to additional information, and some questions that could be used in the classroom for discussion. Students could easily be directed to go through this material as part of a required or recommended element of a course.

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 15.11.28Good Practice Notes are a series of short (5-20 page) documents that aim to identify practical solutions to commonly occurring human rights dilemma situations. They are not focused on any one company, but rather reflect the experiences and practices of a number of companies. Topics include Integrating Concern for Human Rights into the Mergers & Acquisition Due Diligence Process, How Business Can Encourage Governments to Fulfil their Human Rights Obligations, and Developing Corporate Human Rights Polities and the Role of Legal Counsel. These could easily be used as additional readings in a range of core courses.

DialoguesIf you are looking for some case studies, signatories of the Global Compact have put together a series of case studies on how specific companies have approached human rights, available for download through the site. They also provide a range of short webinars that could be used in the classroom, including the PRME Webinar on Human Rights and Business. The website additionally includes documents and readings around specific focus areas in human rights, such as reporting, grievance mechanisms, legal accountability, and guides for investors. Initiatives targeting topics such as water, children’s rights, and indigenous people’s rights also exist with a range of documents available for classroom use. For an overview of the entire collection, the UN Global Compact has a guidance document with the human rights materials they have produced, and suggestions on how to use them.

WEPsIn March 2010, the UN Global Compact and UN Women launched the Women’s Empowerment Principles, aimed at helping the private sector focus on promoting gender equality in the workplace, marketplace, and community. In response to this, the PRME Working Group on Gender Equality, composed of a number of dedicated faculty, created the Gender Equality Resource Repository – a regularly updated web platform with teaching resources and case studies for integrating gender equality into a variety of disciplines, such as accounting, economics, marketing, and management.

– How have you incorporated Human Rights into the curriculum? What materials are you using? Share your experiences in the comments section below.-

A Focus on Sustainable Textiles – IESC

Mr. Flavio Fuertes (Focal Point of the UNGC Argentinean Network) and Miguel Angel Gardetti (Sustainable Textile Center) with designers in the ceremony programme end.

Mr. Flavio Fuertes (Focal Point of the UNGC Argentinean Network) and Miguel Angel Gardetti (Sustainable Textile Center) with designers in the ceremony programme end.

The Instituto de Estudios para la Sustentabilidad Corporativa in Buenos Aires, Argentina has chosen to take both a broad approach to sustainability in their work as well as to focus on a few issues that they believe are of key importance. One of their core topics is making the textile and fashion industries more sustainable, and their Sustainable Textile Center is dedicated to that cause, both nationally and internationally. I recently had the chance to speak with Miguel Angel Gardetti and Ana Laura Torres, coordinators of the Center, about their work.

1.     Describe the work of the Centro Textil Sustentable

The Centro Textil Sustentable (CTS) (Sustainable Textile Center – STC) was created with the purpose of providing the textile and fashion sectors with a broader outlook in order to ensure that social and environmental issues are fully integrated into the decision-making process by correctly assessing the strategic sustainability challenges. This Center promotes a holistic, multidimensional, and more sustainable vision of the textile sector, which includes fashion, through knowledge generation and transfer, education and capacity building, and strategic partnerships.

2.     Why did the Institute decide to focus on sustainable textiles?

No doubt the textile industry (including production of clothing, fabrics, threads, fiber, and related products) is significant to our economy. However, within the context of corporate sustainability, this industry often operates to the detriment of environmental and social factors. The textile industry uses large quantities of water and energy (two of the most pressing issues worldwide), in addition to creating waste, effluents, and pollution. Both textile product manufacture and consumption are significant sources of environmental damage. As to social aspects, non-qualified jobs have been lost in regions that mostly rely on these industries. Another serious and still unresolved problem is the increasing flexibility that textile industry companies need. Faced with fierce international competition, these companies find it more and more difficult to ensure job security. Plus, there exists clandestine work proliferating both in developing and developed countries. Child labour also continues to be a fact in this sector, despite efforts by a growing number of agencies and organisations. Precisely for these reasons, the Institute decided to focus on sustainable textiles.

3.     What are some examples of the projects that have been undertaken?

The Center has been very active, both nationally and internationally, in this area. The STC has developed, jointly with the United Nations Global Compact Argentinean Network, the first edition of a Training Programme of Agents for Change in the Fashion and Textile Sector (August-October 2013). This programme is based on the Code of Conduct and Manual for the Textile and Fashion Industry, which is the first sectorial initiative of the United Nations Global Compact, jointly developed with the Nordic Initiative Clean and Ethical (NICE). From here, we expect to have a positive impact through agents of change in the media, the private sector, the academia, government agencies, etc.

We also developed and delivered a workshop called “Textiles, Fashion and Sustainability,” which is addressed to teachers of the Degree in Apparel and Textile Design of the Pacífico University (Santiago, Chile) in August 2013. We have participated in a range of conferences and workshops on the topic at Rio+20, at Copenhagen Business School and also at the recent Sustainable Apparel Coaliton Educational Summit, which is building a framework for measuring and evaluating the social and environmental sustainability of apparel and footwear products called Higgs. The STC was also in charge of the translation into Spanish of the Code of Conduct and Manual for the Textile and Fashion Industry. We are also part of Socio-Log, a group of academics in the field of sustainable fashion belonging to universities from 33 different nationalities with the purpose of analysing the best way to integrate issues of sustainability across undergraduate and graduate curricula and generate suitable materials for use in class.

4.     What have been some of the challenges? Successes?

There are great challenges in this field, including but not limited to, breaking with the status quo of the informal work, child labour, and illegal immigration, which is VERY rooted. Since we started relatively recently, successes are mainly at the academic level through teacher training in Argentina and other Latin American countries on issues of sustainable fashion and textiles.

5.     What advice would you have for other schools thinking of putting something similar into place, and what is next for the Center?

Something very important is that academic learning and research should become vital and current for future leaders from the textile and fashion business, the government, and civil society. This means taking a broader picture to ensure that social and environmental issues are completely integrated into the decision-making processes in these sectors. We understand that academic learning and research is incomplete if it does not appraise the strategic challenge raised by sustainability. Because academic learning and research is the field of universities and business schools, these institutions are called on to play an important role in the transformation of the current textile and fashion system into a sustainable one.

Moving forward, the Center will continue with the programme editions, both at the local level (Argentina) and the regional level (Latin America), with the participation of other UN Global Compact Local Networks in Latin America. Perhaps we should create a PRME working group on textiles, fashion, and sustainability?

For more information on Sustainable Textiles:

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