A. J. Stagliano
Transforming the Educational Focus to Achieve Concordance with the Worldwide Sustainability Agenda: A Strategic Opportunity for Collegiate Programs in Business Administration and Economics
What is required to make the world population at large believe that working toward basic environmental/ecological sustainability is a goal worthy of immediate and imperative consideration? Will this process be as difficult as it has been during 2020 to convince people of the extraordinary danger of a pandemic like the SARS COVID-19 virus spread? After decades of exhortation about the limits to growth and the clearly identified problems engendered by unconstrained consumption of nonrenewable resources, it now appears to be in the hands of educators to persuade young people—their current students—that sustainability challenges are a worthy focus for serious attention. This proposal for presentation at the 2021 CJBE meeting concerns the role that collegiate business and economics programs can play in realigning curricula to challenge the myth that the central goal of business enterprises must be profit generation for owners. If business firms, as distinct from governments and non-governmental organizations, are to make an explicit positive contribution to meeting well-accepted sustainable development goals (SDGs), such as the 17 posited by the United Nations in late 2015, a paradigmatic shift in strategic thinking will be necessary. Business managers must agree to operate under a new banner of “Business for Good is Good for Business.” To unlock concrete changes in the way business leaders approach sustainability issues, the basic education that leads to their understanding of the economic model requires a fundamental reorientation. Encouragement for learners—particularly those in the business-school setting—to become essential change agents with the knowledge, means, and willingness to take transformative action in furthering the sustainability agenda, means that educational institutions and their curricular offerings must themselves be transformed. The entirety of the learning institution must undergo a realignment towards SDG accomplishment. Learning content and associated pedagogies, when transformed along sustainability lines, can reinforce the background that students bring to the workplace upon graduation. Educators must lead the way here. Delivering a new generation of professional managers whose educational background leads them to embrace sustainability of the planet as a goal of prominence is a task worthy of today’s educational institution leaders. Preparing graduates to grasp the enormous potential impact of sustainability, not simply pursuit of profit, is the way of the future. Educators need look no further in their strategic planning than to embrace SDG accomplishment as an emblematic theme for programs in business administration and economics. Aligning degree offerings and curricula with sustainability goals will “do good” for all involved.