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Future MBA

100 seeds for a sustainable future: Part 7

In week seven of 10-part series, sustainability opens pathways to the MBA; music festivals explore the culture of big data.

In 2014, author and TEDx speaker Giselle Weybrecht posted one short idea a day for 100 days exploring how we could rethink business education to produce the leaders that our business and the planet need. The ideas were compiled in a book, "The Future MBA: 100 Ideas for Making Sustainability the Business of Business Educations." As a companion to the ideas in the book, each week for the next 10 weeks, GreenBiz will be posting 10 examples of how schools around the world are bringing some of these ideas to life, creating new opportunities for people and the planet. This is part seven of the 10-week series. The series can be found here.

Day 61: Sustainability Research Network

The Sustainability Research Network is a dynamic network of early career researchers at the University of Nottingham in the U.K. working on or interested in sustainability. Launched on the U.K. campus in 2013 by Ph.D students, it provides an interdisciplinary discussion and collaboration around the topic of sustainability. Before the network launch, there were few opportunities for researchers interested in the topic to meet and share ideas and expertise across disciplines. Today, there are over 370 members (including faculty, students and research staff) from the business department — but also engineering, education, sciences, medicine, geography, English, politics and chemistry, to name but a few.

Day 62: A book of ideas

Presidio Graduate School offers an MBA in sustainable management. Part of this program is a course called Sustainable Products and Services, which focuses on the entrepreneurial process of innovation, development and commercialization of new products that contribute to sustainable development. Small teams of students work together to identify a market opportunity, develop a concept and plan the full design development and commercialization tasks of the projects. The product ideas are all compiled in a book that provides an insightful view of a sustainable future.

Day 63: Social Impact Certificate

The Graduate Certificate in Social Impact is an innovative partnership between the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne and the University of Western Australia in Perth. The certificate is open to students of any partner universities and focuses on social impact, entrepreneurship and social innovation and a curriculum based on systems thinking and social design principles. The certificate can lead to an MBA in Social Impact.

Day 64: Our Green City

As part of UWE Bristol’s commitment to the city of Bristol in the U.K. being designated European Green Capital in 2015, it developed a massive open online course called Our Green City. Fourteen academics from across the university collaborated with 24 external organizations involved in the Bristol Green Capital Partnership, and many students, to develop the course. It explores how to drive public engagement in any green city with a number of presentations, quizzes and community-led discussions exploring challenges in food, nature, resources, transport, leadership and energy. Learners from 71 countries took the course along with staff and students at the university.

Before the Sustainability Research Network launch, there were few opportunities for researchers to meet and share ideas and expertise across disciplines.

Day 65: Culture and identity

The Nyungar Culture and Identity Unit at Curtin University in Australia is a one-week intensive elective offered to students across all disciplines. Students travel to the Nyungar country, where they spend a week meeting with Aboriginal elders of the community and discovering the history and heritage of the state’s Traditional Owners. All the content is delivered in various locations in the community by Aboriginal community leaders and business owners. The course is organized by the Centre for Aboriginal Studies, which provides support for Aboriginal students and several courses. Another course is for faculty to promote and create a better understanding of the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander culture and improve working relationships with Aboriginal people.

Day 66: The Challenger

The Challenger is a project of open innovation applied to learning, where teams of students from different programs at Barcelona School of Management in Spain work on the same business challenge. The project aims to move towards a new integral model of learning, based on resolving real-life business challenges that connect students with the world of work. The  challenge changes every year. In 2016, it involved working with fashion company Mango to publicize sustainable fashion to international consumer sectors using innovative publicity tools. The winning team presented the idea of developing a series of bags designed by young designers around the world, with the proceeds going to good causes.

Day 67: Transparency

As part of a course on ethics and social responsibility offered by the Universidad EAFIT in Colombia business school, students analyze company sustainability reports related to business response to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They input the data into the Wikirate database, which helps with corporate impact research. Students at universities around the world are also doing the same. Using this database, they are able to compare data across sectors and industries to determine what kind of contribution the private sector — particularly, business in Colombia — is having on the SDGs.

Day 68: Ideas for Action

Ideas for Action is a joint initiative of the World Bank Group and the Wharton School to foster youth engagement in international development. Every year, students and young professionals from around the world devise innovative strategies for financing the SDGs. Competition winners receive opportunities to present their ideas at the Annual Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank Group, receive support from a project incubator at the Wharton School and benefit from unique networking opportunities with experts from international development, academia and the private sector.

Day 69: Reporting metrics

In Brazil, ISAE-FGV school prepares annual sustainability reports outlining its sustainability practices using the G4 guidelines set by the Global Reporting Initiative, an international corporate reporting methodology. Woven throughout the report are links to the 17 SDGs as well as their work with the U.N. Global Compact and the U.N. Principles for Responsible Management Education. This includes extensive metrics relating to social and environmental issues on campus, as well as an analysis of materiality and stakeholder identification for the university.

Day 70: From Rio to Roskilde

Copenhagen Business School in Denmark has been partnering with Roskilde Festival since 2013. For two weeks in June and July, Roskilde Festival, the second-largest music festival in Europe, becomes a temporary city with 130,000 residents. It represents a perfect laboratory for combining research with the development of business models related not only to the festival’s challenges, but also to sustainability challenges at large. Each year the team focuses on a different theme. In 2016, the theme was the power of collecting, analyzing, sharing and using data to uphold the right to privacy and freedom of speech. This is one of a wide range of the school’s faculty research projects around the topic of sustainability through its Sustainability Research Platform.

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