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At the T A Pai Management Institute (TAPMI), Manipal, we believe that imparting knowledge and skills to contribute towards sustainable development is an essential part of creating business leaders for tomorrow. TAPMI is committed to education for business excellence keeping tenets of sustainability in mind. People, planet and profit are central to our teaching at TAPMI and we believe in creating minds that are equipped to deal with the challenges of the future.
TAPMI Centre for Sustainability and Competitiveness is the hub of all sustainability related activities at TAPMI, and leads/supports activities including agenda setting, external relations with relevant stakeholders, collaborations with other sustainability related organizations/institutions, program management and reporting at institutional level.
As a first few steps, TAPMI, and specifically the Centre for Sustainability and Competitiveness (TCSC), have looked at inculcating aspects of sustainability with a three-pronged approach – spreading across its curriculum, its research and its project and partner involvement. TAPMI is proud to have based its community development and sustainability-based work on the TAPMI-MANIPAL MODEL. This model is an expression of the combined work done by multiple stakeholders in ensuring community development and empowerment.
An example of developing a new degree course/programme with SDGs at its heart.
While TAPMI’s aim is to ensure that sustainability is integrated into the curriculum using multiple mechanisms that enable holistic learning we as a school, are attempting to make this change across all courses and programs. This has been an exciting process with new learning opportunities. New courses with a specific focus on sustainability such as the live action and projects-based courses have been pilot tested and are currently in their fifth year of offering. Society, Environment, Values and Attitudes is a 2-credit course that is entirely live project based. SEVA is a core foundation course at TAPMI which aims at introducing all business students at TAPMI to the precepts of sustainability through the lens of the Triple Bottom Line. Projects that correspond to either social responsibility, economic advancement and/ or environmental protection and conservation are identified, and students are placed in groups of ten with a faculty mentor to work directly with the client. Principles of design thinking are taught and followed for the entire project process. Each group is given a small grant fund to use to test out prototypes and solutions for the client.
Clients of the SEVA projects range from social entrepreneurs, women micro-entrepreneurs, sustainability experts, non-governmental organisations, local government bodies to corporates and waste management institutions, to name a few. SEVA introduces students to live, functioning NGOs, enterprises and individuals who are creating / attempting to create superior societal / environmental value. Students spend between 75-100 hours on the ground, in class and self-learning mode, to devise solutions to management issues faced by small and micro-entrepreneurs, NGOs, the district administration, corporates and other relevant actors. SEVA students will actively explore opportunities to connect small-scale producers to mainstream value chains, to apply modern management principles in different functional areas to decrease operational inefficiencies, improve top-lines, introduce the use of information and communication technologies (digitalisation) and thus improve overall business health of the beneficiary.
SEVA, as a course, was conceptualized to enable students to have a first-hand exposure to sustainability and business challenges in the community contexts. The aim was also to enable the school’s participation and contribution in community development. Faculty members conducted various consultations with internal faculty teams and community level clients as well as local government officials to understand the possible engagement opportunities. Further, the course was designed used innovation experiential pedagogy and pilot-tested in 2018. Over 50 experienced faculty members are involved in this process every year and specialized handholding to every team is provided. Since, then the course has utilized the expertise of faculty and guest lectures to intensify the impact. Feedback from all stakeholders have been collected and necessary changes have been made to the course to make it more robust. Community client engagement meetings have been conducted annually for participation and mutual learning. Currently the course is in its fifth year of offering.
The integration of an SDG focus in the curricula has enabled students to better understand and be prepared for the challenges faced by businesses in the present and the near future. Classroom based courses have enabled students to understand technical details and use frameworks and metrices to measure sustainable activities and impact across sectors. Live action-based courses such as SEVA have helped students to have a first-hand experience of the issues of stakeholders in the field and see their classroom-based learnings into action. Our intervention has also enabled the school to engage with the local community and learn from them as well as contribute to their ongoing efforts in participatory development. Stakeholders such as government bodies, microentrepreneurs, non-profit organisations, educational and research institutions as well as microfinance institutions have been partnered with for live-action courses. Student feedback for the same has captured the benefits and the challenges of the process. Some of the feedback received from students, faculty and clients have been attached as a reference document.
The process of introducing the live-action courses in sustainability in curricula has been challenging and rewarding process. Creating a participatory process and mapping strategic processes for the clients through various activities have been helpful in creating community goodwill and acceptance.
One of processes that have helped in journey has been establishing two-way communication and constant engagement and feedback processes with all stakeholders. This has enabled us to fix issues and make changes to ensure that the course remain effective and impactful.
Further, finding means to measure the integration of sustainability into the curricula and the impact of this integration on all stakeholders has also been a challenging process. This acknowledges the fact that this impact takes time to be expressed and hence short-term measurement is difficult. The school hopes to capture this data in the coming academic years.
This process has required time and effort from faculty members. Consultations and further certifications have been conducted. Faculty have reached out to experts to enhance their learning and to conduct guest sessions for students. Partnerships are being created with institutions that have expertise in sustainability and the school to look at advanced certification for students in sustainability.
The school hopes to deepen this community engagement and also widen the reach of the course. The school also hopes to offer an advanced course in sustainable development linked to innovation challenges and social entrepreneurship. The natural conclusion of this course is incubation of relevant ideas that contribute to sustainable development in the community. New partnerships need to be created for the same and expertise need to be achieved as well by the internal team.
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