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Iscte Business School is renowned for its innovative and entrepreneurial focus, international and multicultural environment, and its excellence in both learning and research. Furthermore, a solid connection to the business world is reflected on the exceptional work placement rates of its graduates (close to 100%).
Putting it in numbers, the School is formed by approximately 180 faculty members (tenured, tenure-track and invited), which are distributed throughout six departments: Accounting, Economics, Finance, Marketing, Operations and Management, Quantitative Methods for Management and Economics, and Human Resources and Organizational Behavior.
PRME principles and SDG integration are extremely important because Iscte Business School wants its students to receive all the necessary tools and information to be a 360º citizen. As a higher education institution feeding the next generation of leadership of the most diverse types of organizations, the School has a critical role. Everyone has the responsibility to leave a great impact in this world, and Iscte Business school believes that PRME principles and SDG integration are fundamental guiding lights for accomplishing this mission.
The School is continuously interested in providing students with a culture of rewarding excellence, through high-quality teaching and soft skills development. It seeks to promote an entrepreneurial and innovative mindset, based on a strong international component. And most importantly, foster the values and principles a responsible leadership must work upon in order to maintain a sustainable environment, which are all essential factors to help students achieve a successful career while making impactful positive changes in the society.
Regarding the management and resources to ensure support to PRME implementation and SDG integration on Research, Curriculum and Partnerships, the school relied for a long period on the Accreditations’ office and on the role of the interlocutor of Quality and Sustainability for the Iscte Business School who established the formal connection with the Integrated Quality and Sustainability Management System at the University level (certified with ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and NP4469). In order to strengthen this area at the Business School, in the beginning of 2022, the Dean formally created the role of Associate Dean for Engagement and Impact, as part of the Board, responsible for leading and ensuring, with the support of the School coordination and administrative team, the further development of these areas in the School. Since then, there has been a working team specifically organized for this purpose, working daily on operational demands. Despite the existence of a specific group, there is continuous engagement with professors and administrative staff since this is an area that crosses all the activities of the School. Also, the Iscte Business School is part of Iscte – University Institute of Lisbon, which has its own Sustainability Director and Sustainability Manager, who ensure the SDG’s identification and integration at a global level, as well as most campus operations; whereas the school is involved specifically with its academic programs, research, outreach and other activities.
In terms of strategy, Iscte Business School has its own strategic plan organized along three dimensions of societal impact (educational, intellectual and community ecosystem impact) and that integrates ethics, sustainability and responsibility as a key strategic initiative with various strategic goals and key performance indicators. At the university level, there is a sustainability plan that integrates the People, Planet and Prosperity dimensions and is directly linked to Iscte strategic plan.
An example of embedding a specific SDG / or the overall challenge of the SDGs in the content of a module/project
The curricular unit entitled ‘Ethics, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability’ from the Master in Business Administration includes the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2023 Agenda in its syllabus. This provides students with a broad notion of the different concepts that sustainability incorporates and the challenges of integrating sustainability and the SDGs into strategy. After of those courses, in 2019, two of those students together with a colleague from another school from Iscte decided to compete in a contest promoted by GRACE Academy, where over 70 projects from different Portuguese higher education institutions were submitted. That year, the theme was SDG 9 - Sustainable Cities and Communities. Over the course of one month, the students developed the project entitled ‘Fruta à Moda Antiga’ [Old fashioned fruit] under the coordination of the faculty that coordinates the curricular unit and won the first prize.
The project aimed to contribute to more inclusive, resilient and sustainable communities by designing a solution that reinvented traditions in a way that combined the creation of social and economic value in a sustainable way. To achieve this, the key idea was to rescue fruit stock that would normally be disposed by retail businesses and give them a new purpose in the form of versatile and delicious food, cooked by the elderly people in social institutions. The overall objectives of the project were:
These kinds of projects and competitions contribute to the implementation and integration of the SDG by Iscte Business School. On the one hand, through SDG 4 - Quality education - in which it manages to ensure that students can leverage the learnings and experiences acquired in the various programmes and curricular units related to sustainability that will enhance their initiative capacity. In this particular case, the fact that the initiative came from the students, reinforces that the increasing awareness and skills in this area play an important role.
On the other hand, through SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals – collaboration for the implementation of the SDG is fundamental. To start, there is the fact that the students came together, forming an internal partnership inside the university, to develop this project. Also, the project is grounded on partnerships between the corporate world and nonprofit organisations. The GRACE Academy itself highlights the importance of intersectoral partnerships, promoting the connection between Portuguese companies and academic entities in the themes of sustainability and social responsibility, with focus on the SDG.
Feedback from student Lucinda Morgado (MScBA at Iscte Business School):
The knowledge that we acquired during our masters was undoubtedly very important for the development of our project, since all of us are from different areas, we were able to complement each other’s knowledge. Madalena and I are in the management area, while Alice is in the environment and sustainability area. This interdisciplinarity approach undoubtedly contributed to the final results.
After winning the contest, in 2020, the students decided to keep up with the great work by investing their passion for sustainability into improving the idea and trying to make it flourish. The girls decided to participate in the Women4Climate Lisboa mentoring programme, which was an initiative of the Lisbon City Council, promoted by Startup Lisboa and Casa do Impacto/SCML. The main objective of the programme was to promote the advancement of women in developing businesses and projects that aligned with the objectives and priority areas of Lisboa Green Capital 2020 and were in line with the objectives of the United Nations 2030 Agenda. The group was among the 15 finalists.
Women4Climate website: https://w4c.org/
Based on the example of the students’ initiative to participate in competitions like GRACE Academy, the idea was to include in the evaluation method of curricular units, whenever possible, competitions organized by external entities that contribute to the integration of SDG in the academic activity of the School.
Besides being able to encourage this kind of competition, by being part of the evaluation method students feel more engaged and motivated to participate. For example, in the curricular unit ‘International Management, Ethics and Social Responsibility’ of the academic year 2022/2023, the group assignment was based on the guidelines of GRACE Academy, therefore it had the same rules to allow for direct submission after the completion of the class and incorporation of feedback from the coordinator. The topic was related to SDG 1, ‘The Role of Companies in the Fight Against Poverty’. This topic is particularly relevant in the post-covid context, combined with the impacts of the war in Ukraine and the increase in prices of goods and services, with consequences in the reduction of purchasing power and living conditions in Portugal.
Because of this initiative, some students of this class decided to apply to the competition. Hence, applying an externally launched project challenge to students’ evaluation method has fostered the match between academic assignments and societal challenges in order to engage and impact our community. This is aligned with the mission of the school “to co-create societal impact by providing close-to-practice high-quality education and research that promote responsible management”.
To promote the SDG inside and outside the classroom and foster collaboration with external partners, several resources have been put in place, not only in terms of faculty and staff time, but also guest speakers coming from the corporate world and from academic partners. One example is the Iscte Business School SDG Webinar Series launched in 2022. The first guest speaker was a member of the PRME community, Professor Divya Singhal from the Goa Institute of Management, a strategic partner of Iscte Business School.
In the future, Iscte Business School will continue to promote and encourage the relationship between academic assignments and societal challenges, perusing the goal of impacting and engaging our community with the relevant knowledge acquired through the integration of the SDG in the curricular activities of the School. Moreover, this will help shape and encourage students to participate in future initiatives that Iscte Business School has been facilitating access to, such as GRACE Academy, European Ethics Bowl, Map the System, GBSN The Africa Business Concept Challenge, and PRME Global Students. The key goal is to make the present and coming working generation more aware and prepared to take sustainable and responsible management decisions.
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