Christine Janssen, John Hollwitz, Linda Irwin, James A.F. Stoner, James Weichert , Frank Werner
BEYOND EMBEDDING SUSTAINABILITY: Aligning all core required business courses with the need for a sustainable world
The presenters in this session will report progress they and their business schools are making in “going down to bare metal” to transform their entire business curricula into ones that contribute to creating a sustainable world. Focusing on their own courses, they will discuss a key a step in this transformation: aligning the core, required business courses in each discipline with the realities of the 21st Century and the need for a sustainable/flourishing/regenerating world. Business education needs to be transformed because, to a large extent, business education around the world—global business education—currently supports the “business-as-usual” practices that are destroying the capacity of the planet to support our own and other species. We need to transform every one of the core, required courses in each business discipline because those core courses teach the mindsets, values, tools, and ways of being that support, legitimize, and sustain business-as-usual practices around the world. The presenters in this session recognize that past efforts to embed sustainability material into existing curricula have been useful and desirable things to do, and should continue. Those efforts include adding some sustainability content in a case or lecture or two to a normal core course and adding optional advanced, upper-level, sustainability-focused courses taken by some students to the curriculum. However, the presenters recognize that the effectiveness of such embedding efforts is limited by the fact the current core, required discipline-based business courses lay down the “bricks and mortar” of the business-as-usual mindset and that even specialized advanced courses on sustainability in marketing or finance or management or whatever do not challenge the business-as-usual core assertion that the raison d’être of the firm is to maximize shareholder wealth—no matter how that maximization might legally be achieved. In fact, the major theme of most optional, upper-level sustainability courses is based on the “business case for sustainability”—how to make even greater profits by doing somewhat less harm to the environment, to other species, and to society. The presenters will speak briefly about their journey in developing core business discipline courses consistent with the need for a sustainable world and what those courses look like. Takeaways and opportunities for the audience will include receiving syllabi for the courses discussed, opportunities to share what they have been doing to bring sustainability into their own curricula and research, potential partners among the speakers and other audience members, and hopefully inspiration to move more rapidly and more boldly in aligning their teaching and research with the need for a sustainable/flourishing/ regenerating world. For the presenters, the goals of the session will be to gain ideas about how they can improve their courses, and hopefully to find partners in their continuing journey. Presentations will be made on core courses at Fordham, Regis, and other universities.