PRME puts Accountable Business School Leadership on the Agenda at COP28
New York, 22 June 2023. Responsible Management Education Week, led by the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), took place in New York City (USA) from 12-16 June and was hosted by Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business. It connected more than 500 participants (in-person and online) from 75 different countries, for a joint commitment to provide educational players with the skills and inspiration needed to balance economic and sustainability goals, while also drawing attention to other important and timely issues such as digital education and accountable leadership.
A full week of discussions, talks, workshops, launches, and social gatherings was brought forth by key partner organizations including the Sustainability Centres Community by the Network for Business Sustainability and the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative, the International Humanistic Management Association, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the Tipping Point Fund on Impact Investing, the Positive Impact Rating and the Financial Times.
12 JUNE - MULTIPLE EVENTS
The first day of Responsible Management Education Week, 12 June, demonstrated the breadth of organizations involved in the week as PRME, Positive Impact Rating (PIR), and the Financial Times each hosted an event. PRME’s Impactful Five (i5) Project hosted a workshop to showcase five pedagogical characteristics for leadership development with over 200 attendees. This was the first opportunity for the PRME Community to engage in an i5 workshop in-person and interact with the i5 creative and playful pedagogy.
Across the hall PIR, as part of their PIR Global Summit 2023, shared best practices from leading business schools, based on student-led assessments done for their own schools. About 50 business schools participated in student-led discussions on key topics that came out of the PIR 2023 Edition’s results. The PIR Global Summit built up anticipation for the positive impact ratings for 2023 released on Wednesday, 14 June. Lastly, PRME and the Financial Times hosted a session on business school rankings, and discussed new ways of considering sustainability, ESG, universal metrics, and alternative sources beyond research and publications.
13-14 JUNE - 2023 PRME GLOBAL FORUM
Tuesday and Wednesday, 13-14 June, of RME Week was dedicated to the 2023 PRME Global Forum, the flagship event of PRME and the first in-person forum since 2017. The event was broadcasted to participants around the world with the theme “Connecting for Impact Worldwide,” with a specific focus on pedagogy, climate, digital, and leadership impact. The forum was led by John Goodwin, Executive Chair of The Learning Economy Foundation and PRME Board Member, as master of ceremonies.
With a dynamic program and purpose-driven speakers, the 2023 edition of the PRME Global Forum brought forth a global debate on how business education can help advance the sustainable development agenda worldwide through a variety of formats, including keynote speeches, panel debates, fireside chats, and workshops.
13 JUNE - 2023 PRME GLOBAL FORUM (DAY 1)
The first day of the forum, 13 June, was focused on "bringing the world into business schools," highlighting how business schools are connecting to the global challenges on the pedagogical and climate agenda. Many discussions centered on how current pedagogies need to be adapted to equip effective leaders with the holistic, thoughtful, and dynamic views the world needs. As stated by one of the speakers, Halla Tómasdóttir, CEO & Chief Change Catalyst of The B Team, we are responsible for “opening doors to teach courage and humility to our world.”
Two breakouts were offered under the pedagogical impact section of the agenda. One discussed inclusive classrooms and building diverse ecosystems through norm criticism, bringing less-hostile school experiences while increasing connectedness to the school community and preparing students to lead in diverse organizations. The other breakout was for the i5 Playbook launch, presented by The LEGO Foundation experts, with an interdisciplinary dialogue on the many applications of learning through play and innovative pedagogy.
Centering climate change, one of the biggest challenges of our time, in the discussions for the afternoon, the Global Forum highlighted the importance of climate education as part of management programs to reverse our climate’s current trajectory. The program started with a special video message from Dr. Jane Goodall, a primatologist, anthropologist, and tireless world champion for ecological sustainability, in an urgent call to inspire us to “conserve the natural world we all share, improving the lives of people, animals and the environment where everything is connected and everyone can make a difference.”
Andy Hoffman, Holcim Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan, highlighted the importance of using organizational, network and strategic analyses to assess the implications of environmental issues for business. His keynote address provoked the audience with ways to unleash the creativity of teachers and students to combat climate change.
In addition to the discussions, there were inspiring moments performed by youth through music and poetry, which demonstrated how the arts can play a role in the mission to save our home planet. PRME also announced a collaboration with the Higher Education for Good Foundation to promote its Youth Talks initiative for an inclusive and continuous consultation about youth aspirations worldwide, with the ambition to inspire and engage business schools with youth.
Within the scope of the climate agenda, three different and innovative breakouts took place to complement the discussions. First was an interactive session on how academia and scholarly research can contribute to moving societal impact forward. Secondly, a session hosted by Cornell SC Johnson College of Business on evolving management education focused on understanding how to help students effectively navigate the shifting terminology of the social and environmental issues that are challenging today’s business environment. Lastly, participants engaged in a session on indigenous/First Nations wisdom to educate business leaders and explore engagement opportunities with business schools.
Climate education leadership has never been more important for tackling the climate crisis as learning gaps still remain in preparing current and future leaders for current and future climate challenges. The climate impact agenda was closed with a video message from Sanda Ojiambo, Assistant Secretary-General & CEO of the United Nations Global Compact, where she called for “CEOs who will lead their organizations with purpose, who can use systems-thinking to implement lasting solutions.”
14 JUNE - 2023 PRME GLOBAL FORUM (DAY 2)
The second day of the 2023 PRME Global Forum was focused on “bringing business schools out into the world," by highlighting opportunities to expand knowledge sharing worldwide, taking advantage of the technological revolution to scale impact, and promoting digital fluency for all. This day also set the tone for more human-driven and accountable models of leadership with the announcement of new commitments and strategies for current and future leaders.
The day started with a conversation led by Jason Jay, Director of the Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan, on how to create internal changes in business schools that can lead to the external changes we want to see in the world. This was followed by additional sessions highlighting the skills needed to inspire change actors to move in a complex and challenging context, including a sustainability centres community discussion on ways to address the "nuts and bolts" challenges related to centre research, teaching, outreach, and administration.
To start the digital Impact portion of the agenda, Christiane Molina, PRME Global Chapter Council Member, and Research Professor at EGADE Business School, emphasized the importance of relationships and bringing our emotions and feelings into light, “a difficult topic for the business sphere, but possible. The digital revolution and challenges will require us to be human, to embrace our core human values.”
In addition to actionable examples of digital implementation from the community aligned with the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Digital Strategy 2025, PRME introduced the upcoming PRME Commons as a tool to report progress and accountability. The PRME Commons will replace the existing Sharing Information on Progress (SIP) reporting and instead present information from signatories in dynamic and comparable ways.
Michael Pirson, Director of the Center for Humanistic Management at the Fordham Gabelli School of Business, opened the Leadership Impact portion of the agenda by raising the need for bringing more humanistic leadership, followed by a special video-message from Paul Polman, business leader, campaigner and co-author of Net Positive: how courageous companies thrive by giving more than they take, on inspiring business leaders to “take on humanity's greatest and most urgent challenges—climate change and inequality—and build a thriving business as a result.”
Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry-Wehmiller and recently named Tharseō CEO of the Year by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), stressed the need to “drive toward humanistic leadership that acknowledges how human dignity plays an important role in people's happiness,” in his keynote address.
Opening the conversations towards more accountable leadership, Raj Sisodia, founding member of the Conscious Capitalism movement, highlighted the importance and need to bring care and humanity to business and capitalism, and remarked that “meaningful work is how we express our love to the world.”
Several breakouts in the leadership program took place, including a session on the conscious capitalism simulation promoted by Marketplace Simulations, which sponsored the travel of 10 students and three faculty to New York to engage in the conversations and share their perspectives on working with realistic business simulations with the conscious capitalism mindset. Two other breakouts also took place that were organized on how to foster humanistic leadership by the Center for Humanistic Management at Fordham Gabelli School of Business, and how to embrace courageous conversations in order to exchange knowledge and address grand challenges, hosted by the Sustainability Centres Community.
‘Accountability and commitments for the future’ was the last panel discussion of the 2023 PRME Global Forum, led by Duncan Ross, Chief Data Officer of Times Higher Education. To close the day, Hunter Lovins, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute and president of the nonprofit organization Natural Capitalism Solutions, shared a message on responsible management for social good, in which she asked, “Do we know what enough is? It’s not a given that humanity will last. We need to learn more about the planetary boundaries - they are the answer to climate challenges.”
On the evening of 14 June, PRME gathered all participants and partners of the 2023 PRME Global Forum in a reception at the United Nations Headquarters, held at the Delegates Dining Room, which included a special address from the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J. Mohammed who called upon each and every participant to, “challenge the status quo at your universities and institutions.” Lastly, PRME awarded its 2023 Sharing Information on Progress (SIP) Excellence in Reporting winners and also recognized student organizations, faculty members, and i5 Expert Pedagogy Members for their contributions to the PRME Community. The 2023 PRME Global Forum is grateful for the support of all its sponsors and partners: AACSB International, Cabells, Cesim – Business Simulations, Cornell SJ Johnson College of Business, Gabelli School of Business - Fordham University, Hoffmann Institute for Business and Society (INSEAD), International Business School Suzhou, International Humanistic Management Association, Marketplace Simulations, MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative, Network for Business Sustainability, Next Billion, Plymouth Business School, Times Higher Education, Tipping Point Fund on Impact Investing, United Nations Global Compact, University of Exeter Business School and Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
We are honored to have hosted this opportunity where we focused on #ConnectingforImpact in an action-oriented space to build avenues for effective collaboration worldwide.
15 JUNE – SYSTEMS CHANGE FOR SUSTAINABILITY
On 15 June, the Sustainability Centres Community, hosted by the Network for Business Sustainability (NBS) and the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative co-hosted a day-long disruptive and interactive workshop about how business school actors can drive systems change for sustainability. As the next step toward impact, this workshop helped participants collectively turn the “what and why” of responsible management education into “how.” In small discussion groups, participants explored how to apply systems thinking to sustainability challenges, share practical examples of systems change projects from their work, and found opportunities to connect and collaborate with other leaders around them.
The workshop was led by Jason Jay, Director of the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative and Jury Gualandris, Director of the Network for Business Sustainability.
Tima Bansal, Vice-Chair of the PRME Board and Professor of Strategy at Ivey Business School, opened the workshop by stating, “We believe in ourselves as change actors. We collectively touch so many students that we have the ability to have real impact and it has never been so important.”
During the final exercise of the day, a “speed-dating” session, the room buzzed with the exchange of business cards as participants from 37 countries agreed to continue learning from one another. This is the power of connecting for impact. Participants highlighted the importance of community, collaboration and partnership in achieving systems level change. NBS will aim to maintain this momentum with virtual programming for sustainability leaders in business schools throughout the year. Interested in getting involved? Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
16 JUNE – HUMANISTIC MANAGEMENT & ESG IN BUSINESS SCHOOLS
The last day of the Responsible Management Education Week, 16 June, was dedicated to humanistic management and leadership and ways to improve leadership skills in a more holistic way to bring more human values into our society. The event was hosted by The Center for Humanistic Management at Fordham Gabelli School of Business and the Humanistic Leadership Academy. Michael Pirson, Ph.D., Brian Wellinhoff and Dafydd Snowdon-Jones engaged faculty and students in the inquiry of how professors can develop the be, know, and do of humanistic leadership. Twenty professors from four continents committed to continuing their development in a peer-to-peer cohort, committed to transforming business education.
On the same day, 16 June, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the Tipping Point Fund on Impact Investing, gathered faculty, researchers, and business school leaders in an exclusive conversation on ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance standards) in business school research and education, hosted by PRME at the UN Global Compact Office’s Kofi Annan Board Room. Senior faculty members from notable business and management schools such as Harvard, Cornell, Columbia, NYU, University of Michigan, MIT, Duke, UC Berkeley, Ivey, Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV), American University of Cairo, as well as many others participated. The purpose of the event was to explore interest in developing common action in support of ESG education and research across these business schools. The Ford Foundation and the Tipping Point Foundation participated actively in the meeting and expressed an interest in a global program, and it was mentioned that PRME as a UN Global Compact initiative might serve as the connection point. Exciting work lies ahead to further explore this global connection.
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