ISO 26000 in Higher Education Institutions – La Rochelle Business School

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La Rochelle Business School is currently in the initial phases of using the ISO 26000 directives as a central pivot to assist the school in its efforts to operate as a socially responsible institution. The school has extensive experience with the standard’s use in the business sector, and is in the process of implementing it in the school—raising awareness, developing consensus on what the standards mean, and identifying the issues the school will need to address. I recently spoke with Sarah Vaughan, associate Dean and Vincent Helfrich, Project ISO 26000 Coordinator, Institute for Sustainability through Innovation at La Rochelle Business School, about their experiences with the ISO 26000 standard.

What is ISO 26000?

ISO 26000 is an international standard on social responsibility which aims to provide guidance, rather than a set of requirements to which all types of organisations must conform. The standard was produced through extensive discussions with companies, NGOs and major trade associations, and covers:

  • principles of social responsibility
  • recognition of social responsibility and engaging with stakeholders
  • seven core subjects which in turn encompass some 43 issues

o   organisational governance

o   human rights

o   labour practices

o   fair operating practices

o   consumer issues

o   community involvement and development

o   integrating social responsibility within an organisation

It provides a strategic approach to social responsibility and is particularly helpful for internal and external analyses and providing starting points for implementing sustainability strategies (more information:

How is La Rochelle using these standards? What are the benefits to the school?

The school has decided to institutionalise its commitment to CSR by structuring and aligning its overall social responsibility process with the ISO 26000 directives and the CGE/CPU framework—the French Universities standard.

The ISO 26000 framework is a universal guideline that we as a school are familiar with: we were actively involved in the national steering committee and workgroups that developed the standard, and we have acquired a practical approach to its implementation in the business world via the school’s industry funded research chair in CSR & ISO 26000. Using the ISO 26000 standard is a logical extension of the school’s commitment to social responsibility and sustainability, initiated at the end of the 90s.

What is some of the work coming from the Research Chair in CSR & ISO 26000? 

The CSR & ISO 26000 Research Chair crystallises our expertise in sustainability and social responsibility (SR) built up over the years. We were among the first to distil an understanding of SR and to provide guidance for corporations to translate SR principles, using ISO 26000, into effective actions for implementation. Our expertise of working with companies in developing practical strategies for implementing the standard, has enabled us to strengthen and develop our academic research base (contributing new insights), has had research implications for practice, and has informed our teaching (case study development and problem or issues-based consultancy projects).

The Fleury Michon research project is a perfect illustration of the work we are doing. Since 12th April 2010, the school has assisted this major French agro-food company in its process of integrating corporate social responsibility practices, in compliance with ISO 26000 guidelines. Collaboration with the company’s senior management has given researchers privileged access to the company in order to test the relevance of the ISO 26000 standard, by using a research-intervention approach. For the company, the self-assessment phase focused on evaluating actions in each of the 40 areas in the seven core subjects identified by ISO 26000.

The company published its CSR gap analysis and self-assessment report, tracking results on its CSR efforts, and then developed a strategy, identifying and highlighting areas for improvement, together with drawing up detailed action plans. Consultancy projects in the MBA programme have enabled students to become involved in the reporting process by generating reports on topics such as SR best practices in the Agro-Food Industries, Ethical Charters, and identifying the sector’s SR performance indicators that could be used by practicing managers.

What have been some of the challenges in implementing ISO 26000 at La Rochelle? Successes? 

The school’s ISO 26000 strategy is now at the second level of self-assessment. Implementation is not a simple process: firstly it requires creating a deliberative process to maximise stakeholder engagement. Secondly, it is essential to strike a balance between efficiency and representativeness of the project working group. Lastly, the working group must communicate throughout the organisation and update regularly on progress and achievements. SR encompasses a broad range of sometimes complex issues and not all members of the school’s organisation are well-versed in them.

As a consequence the internalisation and appropriation of the process—understanding and utilising the standard—is in general a lengthy one, but one which has enabled the school to progress on reaching consensus, a “thought way” as to the scope and purpose of social responsibility and its relevance to each member of the school in their activity. It has been an appropriate approach to broaden SR engagement. As for many organisations, the school is already taking some measures or is engaged in many activities to meet its social responsibility, but these are often the result of individual initiatives or informal processes, without a conscious SR strategy. It is a great participative learning process within the school to raise awareness of its accomplishments and share the different initiatives—this is probably the most productive part of the project lifecycle so far.

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

Each situation is unique but first and foremost ISO 26000 is a collective project that requires commitment from top management and must be co-built with all the members of the school. The focus is on structuring and improving SR policy—it is not a trajectory towards a certification seal (conformity tests and compliance statement, etc.), as indeed no certification exists. From this perspective ISO 26000 is an interesting practical and incremental process: it is merely an evaluation of how mature the school is in meeting its social responsibility, and putting its performance into perspective.

What’s next?

The next step for the school will be to launch our SR action plan based on the priority areas we have identified as a result of the self-assessment phase, and to pursue our stakeholder engagement process. We will also continue to focus on procedures and practices within the corporate world (in the context of the CSR & ISO 26000 research chair) and to pursue our engagement with the standards bodies, as experts but also end-users, to contribute to developments of current and future regulations and guidelines.


Implementing Sustainability Principles – Sharing Information on Progress (April/May)

Lund University School of Economics and Management

Lund University School of Economics and Management

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 campuses. In this series of blogs, I will feature a small selection of these projects taken from recently submitted reports. This month, we take a look at examples, as they apply to the Six Principles of PRME, from Sweden, the US, Paraguay, Mexico, South Africa, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and Colombia.

1. Purpose:

Lund University School of Economics and Management (LUSEM) in Sweden currently runs an initiative, launched in the summer of 2013, where students are put in contact with a number of the school’s partners and other companies, to review practi­ces in corporate responsibility and sustainability. The initiative has developed ongoing, active collaborations, with a number of organisations including Alfa Laval, Arla Foods, Deloitte, the Hunger Project, IKEA, and Swedbank. The initiative includes continuous follow-up by the school, and pursuit of further initiatives and partnerships to allow students to engage with the organisations in a number of ways—some of these leading to students writing bachelor’s and master’s theses in collaboration with the companies. This initiative reflects both the commitment by the school to gain ground on corporate responsibility and sustainability issues, and the insight that partners and other corporate, public or non-profit bodies are eager to engage with the academy in these developments.

2. Values:

Clark University Graduate School of Management’s University Park Partnership (UPP) is a broad, grassroots collaboration that involves neighborhood residents and organisations, local churches, government officials, the business community, and public schools. The university has played a leadership role in the community since 1985 and has been a primary partner in UPP since 1995. As a partner, university individuals conduct research for UPP organisations, teach in neighborhood schools, and serve as mentors.

The Universidad del Cono Sur de las Americas in Paraguay has an annual event that has been going on for six years now called, Contest of Crazy Ideas. This contest invites students to develop creative ideas and new products and services with a focus on social responsibility.

3. Method:

The Universidad del Norte in Colombia has been working to build up its database of case studies with a clear focus on social responsibility and sustainable business. It is working with the Colombia Global Compact Local Network, of which it is part of the organising committee, to create a series of case studies on human resources and social responsibility at the national level.

As part of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Business School Network for the Promotion of Responsible and Sustainable Business Practices through Business Education, EGADE Business School in Mexico, has designed a course in collaboration with the ILO, Boconni University in Italy, and Sun Yat Sen University in China. The course, called “Labour Dimension of Corporate Social Responsibility; from principles to practice,” is available to enterprises, entrepreneurs, and the general public.

4. Research:

Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in South Africa has a Centre for Dynamic Markets, which is dedicated to generating and disseminating insights into and information about doing business in dynamic markets, as well as the implications, arising out of the success of the dynamic market economies, for doing business elsewhere. The centre has been expanding its operations and presence into other African countries, with a new office in Nairobi, Kenya. In 2014, it launched its inaugural GIBS Dynamic Market Index, which attempts to empirically identify the conditions and institutions that enable the catalysts for economic growth, wealth creation, innovation, and overall socio-economic development. The index, which will be updated annually, measures a series of indicators across 133 countries over a seven year period.

5. Partnerships:

The Faculty of Economics and Administration (FEA) at the King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia is working closely with the anti-corruption authority, an initiative created by the government of Saudi Arabia in 2010 to fight corruption and unethical behavior, and foster a culture of social responsibility among all sectors of the Saudi Arabian economy. FEA held workshops in conjunction with the authority, with the aim of exploring venues for potential cooperation between the college and the anticorruption authority through training and research.

6. Dialogue:

INALDE in Colombia has a project in collaboration with the Exxon Mobil. This programme brings together leaders of national NGOs and Foundations to develop the capacity of these leaders to generate positive change at the community and national levels.

The George Washington School of Business’ (GWSB) Career Center partnered with employers to create the Corporate Collaborative Council (CCC). The CCC consists of senior level industry leaders strongly committed to developing global business talent. Council members—representing a broad range of business, government and non-profit organisations—help drive the direction of the business education curriculum through regular meetings with key faculty and administrators.

+ Organisational Practices:

Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business in the Philippines invited students to take part in a No Impact Experiment, a one-week carbon cleanse programme. Students and staff were encouraged to take steps to reduce their impact. Each day had a theme, Monday was trash, Tuesday transportation, Wednesday food, Thursday energy, Friday water, Saturday giving back and Sunday was eco-Sabbath. The event was organised by the Campus Sustainability Office.





Providing experiences through co-op placements – University of Victoria


darelle.business2_webAt the University of Victoria Gustavson School of Business, business students have the opportunity to gain valuable work experience, exploring how their education is connected to various industries and businesses that interest them, before they graduate. Students do this through participation in the University of Victoria Co-operative Education Program (Co-op) where they must complete 3 four-month work terms. The Co-op Program offers students the opportunity to try out different jobs, build competencies, and earn income—and possibly a job after graduation. I spoke with Leslie Liggett, Manager of the Business Co-op and Career Centre at the University of Victoria about this programme.

Briefly describe the co-op programme

The Canadian Association for Co-operative Education (CAFCE) defines it as a “Co-operative Education Program,” which means the programme alternates periods of academic study with periods of work experience in appropriate fields of business, industry, government, social services, and the professions. The focus is to ensure that students are given productive work that is supervised and evaluated. Additionally, it is structured so that time spent in periods of work experience is at least thirty per cent of the time spent in academic study.

The key points are that the work is linked to the academic discipline, full-time paid, and assessed. The University of Victoria’s Co-op Programs are accredited by the CAFCE.

How did the Co-op Program at University of Victoria (UVic) come about?

 In the mid 1970s, science programmes at UVic realised that science students could benefit from practical experience in industry as part of their education. Faculty thought that students’ learning could be enriched by applying what they learned as they progressed in their degree programmes, and reflecting on their experiences as they moved through their education. Over time, the programme spread to other disciplines. Now, every undergraduate programme at UVic offers Co-op unless they already require practica or other applications of their learning. Now UVic has the third largest co-op programme in Canada.

In Business and Engineering, Co-op is mandatory. Every BCom student completes 3 four-month work terms, and MBA’s complete one or two, unless they are exempt because they already have enough industry experience.

Why have it?

 Benefits accrue to all three parties involved:

  • Students apply their education to see how it works in practice, and think critically about how what they are being taught is actually implemented; try several types of work to help them choose a direction for their career; earn money to finance their education; build professional networks before they graduate; graduate work-ready; and find work sooner and get paid more than non-co-op graduates.
  • Employers get access to the most current theories and practices; have a chance to hire in a low-risk way (4 months at a time) so they can find candidates that best match their business; gain access to potential future employees even before they graduate; and receive fresh ideas and intelligent questions to help them improve their business.
  • Gustavson School of Business accessess potential Corporate Partners, mentors, donors, and guest instructors who are familiar with our programme; develops engaged students who think critically and ask probing questions in the classroom; and gets better career outcomes for grads, and externally-validated data on student outcomes.

How does it work in practice?

Co-op Coordinators talk to companies, help them identify any needs that could best be met by hiring a co-op student, and help them create job postings to recruit students. Students can apply to the positions we post, or find work through their own networks or other means. Positions qualify as Co-op if they help students develop their core and business-related competencies, include a minimum of 12 weeks of full time employment, and are paid.

University of Victoria was the first Canadian university to develop a competency assessment system that links classroom curriculum with work-term learning. Once students are hired, they meet with their supervisor to define their learning goals. They then review the list of Core and Business Specific Competencies, and choose 3-5 that are relevant to their work. Students then assess where they are on the competency development scale. At the mid-term, students assess themselves again on the same competencies, and their supervisor reviews their assessment and does one of their own. There is then a scheduled meeting with the supervisor, student, and Co-op Coordinator to ensure that the student’s learning is facilitated and meeting the employer’s expectations. The final assessment of competencies happens at the end of the 4-month term, thus allowing the student to measure their learning and development. Students also reflect on their learning by submitting a reflective piece of work for review by their Coordinator in preparation for their return to campus.

What are some examples of the co-op placements?

We are finding that more and more of our students are exploring sustainability related co-op placements or working on sustainability projects within their jobs. One of our students who wanted experience in the tourism industry did her Co-op work term as a Guest Service Agent at Ziptrek Ecotours in Whistler, BC. Ziptrek offers tours to educate guests about the rare temperate coastal rainforest of Whistler while providing an adrenaline-pumping experience as guests soar hundreds of feet above the forest floor on zip lines. Another student worked as a Research Assistant putting together a business plan for a commercial greenhouse business with a local non-profit organisation.

Students love that the programme gives them a chance to get out of the classroom and get first-hand experience of the issues and industries they hope to work with post-graduation.

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

There is a Canadian and Associations for Co-operative Education (CAFCE) and a World Association for Co-operative Education (WACE) that are both great starting points! Their conferences offer a wealth of opportunities to learn from others. Additionally, these associations provide resources for programme assessment, which would be helpful is setting a framework for such a programme. Overall, my advice is to secure faculty support, and then do it.

What are the next steps for the programme?

Our next steps are to continue to seek opportunities that are relevant to students’ education, interests, and passion. We are also trying to tap into larger and more international companies, where our students can start to have a bigger impact.


Creating an Effective Centre – Milgard School of Business

Milgard-homepg-1Globally the rise in sustainability and social responsibility in the business sector has been met with an increase in specialised centres working specifically on this topic within business schools. These provide an opportunity for business schools to help advance sustainability issues within the business sector, but equally, and perhaps more importantly, to help embed sustainability into the business schools themselves through a variety of measures. I recently had the chance to speak with Joe Lawless, Executive Director at the Centre for Leadership and Social Responsibility at Milgard School of Business in the United States, about how the Centre came to be and how it aims to have an impact.

Briefly describe the Centre for Leadership and Social Responsibility and how it came about.

The Centre for Leadership & Social Responsibility is focused on three key constituencies: 1) students and the activities that will help them develop as responsible leaders, 2) faculty and research support in topics related to corporate social responsibility, and 3) supporting and providing opportunities for businesses and CSR practitioners to come together to think critically about corporate citizenship issues.

Our benefactors, who set up the endowment that funds the Centre and for whom the school is named, wanted the Centre to focus on the intersection of leadership and social responsibility, coming from a belief that you cannot, or should not, do one without the other. Additionally, they wanted us to develop the Centre in a way that best fit the school’s needs and our vision for what the Centre could be. We looked to other centres globally for successful models, programmes, and structures that would allow us to achieve our mission of creating socially responsible leaders who build sustainable organisations and communities.

What did you learn from your research of other successful centres?

We looked to other established centres like the Centre for Responsible Business at UC Berkeley, the Centre for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College, and IMD in Switzerland. One word of advice that we took from the Boston Centre was to stay closely aligned with the faculty and students in the Milgard School of Business. That was good advice, and has helped us keep balance in our approach to the development of new programmes. The risk, when developing this type of centre is to focus too heavily on one piece of this puzzle. Student programmes can easily absorb much of your time and energy without clear focus and purpose. The same is true for research and corporate efforts. The real magic for our Centre has been the balance and interplay between the three key constituencies, which creates more synergy and value than would any one piece by itself.

What did you do to ensure that the centre would be effective in its mission?

Whenever we develop a new programme for one of our three constituencies, we consider how to involve the other two. When developing a new student activity, we consider how that interacts with faculty research and curriculum, and how to engage the business community in a meaningful way. Considering the impacts on all three stakeholders keeps us very mission-focused.

What are some of the projects that the centre is involved in?

We have an internal and an invitational case competition on social responsibility for students, a course on Board Governance that engages each student on the board of a local NGO, and a communications programme that keeps issues of CSR in front of students. We also have an honour code that reinforces honesty and ethics in our academic environment, and a professionalism week and etiquette dinner to reinforce those messages.

Annually, we hold an Academic Research Conference for faculty, which this year is taking place on July 10-11. We also provide curriculum development and community engagement grants, as well as research support and connections to practitioner partners.

With our business constituencies we have an annual business conference that gathers practitioners from the region, a case writing partnership for inclusion in the case competitions, and annual Business Leadership Awards recognising business leadership in the region.

What have been some of the challenges? Successes?

The biggest challenge has been engaging faculty in the emerging field of CSR research when their research interests may not align with the field. Publishing CSR focused articles, because they haven’t been part of mainstream research channels, has historically been more challenging and created a barrier for junior faculty. This trend has begun to change, however, and we now have multiple colleagues focusing their research in CSR-related fields. We also have an ongoing challenge of engaging our students, because we are an urban-serving university with a student population that is older, more diverse, and has more first generation college students than other schools. When students don’t live on campus, have a job, a family, and other obligations, participating in our student activities can be a challenge. We have had to develop strategies to engage students where they are and when they have time.

Our successes have come when we effectively engage all three of our constituencies. Our most recent success has been with our invitational case competition. Ten schools from around the US prepared a solution to a case that we wrote, and then came to our campus to compete in front of judges from the business community. The case we reviewed was engaging, challenging, and provided the company with actionable solutions generated by the student participants.

What advice would you have for other schools putting in a new centre or trying to make their current centre more effective?

Having a base funding level is certainly a great place to start for any Centre. It allows you to be much more creative with your offerings and how you engage the business community. After that, I’d say that paying attention to each different constituency and how they interrelate (as described above) has proven to be a winning formula for us. 

What are the next steps for the Centre?

We are fairly happy with the portfolio of offerings that we currently have, but are always looking for new ways to partner with other organisations to leverage the power of the University to create more value in the business community.

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

+ 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.

Sustainable Business Examples from Around the World – British Columbia, Canada

Finest at SeaAs 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 repeatedly hear the same examples from the same international companies.

In an attempt to share some new examples of good practise, 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. Below are some examples from Canada, more specifically across British Columbia.


Rachel Goldsworthy,Coordinator, Centre for Social and Sustainable Innovation,  Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria, Canada

Maple Leaf Adventures is a small ecotourism business that takes visitors from around the world into wilderness areas of Canada’s West Coast to experience the region’s rich natural and cultural history. Along with a host of other responsible-tourism attributes, Maple Leaf has respectful longstanding agreements with local First Nations that provide access and guides to their traditional territories. One of the biggest impacts of Maple Leaf tours, though, is that they give passengers a first-hand look, smell, and taste of healthy wilderness, and they invariably disembark with a zeal to protect it.

Finest at Sea is a completely integrated seafood business that owns the fishing boats, the licenses, the processing plants, retail shops and even some food service outlets. All of its products, which are sold to local and global markets, are sustainably harvested. As well, the owners believe in a sustainable workforce so they train staff to work in a variety of roles; nobody gets stuck at a filleting table all day every day, and that makes for happier, healthier employees as well as a resilient business.


Mark Giltrow, Program Head Sustainable Business Leadership Programme, British Columbia Institute of Technology.

Vancity with nearly 500 000 members is a credit union serving the metro Vancouver area. Among it’s many sustainable initiatives it has undertaken the B-hive. The B-hive allows Vancity to target the $100 million dollars a year procurement it spends on goods and services to member businesses that provide sustainable social or environmental impact to the community. By directing money to their business members as well as showcasing specific positive impacts that some of their business are engaging in, the B-Hive helps ensure the alignment of Vancity values and circulates cash flow among its members.


Stephanie Bertels, Assistant Professor, Simon Frasier University Beedle School of Business, Canada

Potluck Café Society provides healthy meals and creates jobs for people with barriers to employment living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES). Its highly successful catering business supports its community programs which have become a beacon for those living in the DTES. Shift Urban Cargo Delivery is Canada’s first trike delivery service. It operates as a co-op to deliver products such as office supplies, food, clothing, and even recycling to business throughout Vancouver, saving on fuel costs and GHG emissions. Shift is a participating organization in Radius, a social innovation lab and venture incubator based at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business. Inner City Farms revives neglected garden space and converts lawns into beautiful and productive urban farms throughout the city of Vancouver. In 2013, it grew food for over 50 families and 6 restaurants through its Community Supported Agriculture program.


– What are your favorite local sustainable businesses? Share them in the comments area below. –




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