Experience level: 
Advanced
Intended Audience: 
All
Authors: 
Linda Tuncay Zayer, Pilar Castro González.

A World in Crisis: The Role of Business Schools in Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals

To unite businesses in building a just and sustainable world, the United Nations Global Compact was founded in 2000. This was followed by the Principles for Responsible Management Education initiative in 2007, specifically to cultivate the role of higher education and business schools in this endeavor. At the PRME Global Forum held virtually in June 2020, three crises were highlighted which have profound impact on the lives of people across the globe: COVID-19, climate change, and inequality. Indeed, many of the globe’s existing problems and inequalities were only exacerbated in recent years due to the global pandemic, as well as social and political unrest. This research asks, what should the role of business schools be in this new reality? How is this vision translated into actionable education initiatives? How can Jesuit universities collaborate in these initiatives to achieve greater impact? The 2020 Business Accreditation Standards from the AACSB states that business schools should promote positive social impact through its curriculum (Standard 4) and its internal and external initiatives (Standard 9). A focus on ‘purpose’ is also commensurate with the Inspirational Paradigm for Jesuit Business Education and the hungers—such as the hunger for integrated knowledge, hunger for moral compass, hunger for global paradigm, and hunger for dignified work and meaningful impact, among others. Further, purpose-driven business resonates with a new generation of students who prioritize purpose, ethics, and global citizenship (Deloitte: Welcome to Generation Z, 2020). Many businesses are turning to the SDGs to measure their impact on their communities and society more broadly. However, how can these broad goals be translated into a university curriculum and what are the challenges and opportunities associated with these efforts? The PRME offers a Blueprint For SDG Integration, emphasizing four key elements: commitment from all levels, a deep understanding of the organization, visible goals and resources, and a coordinated communication of information and knowledge. However, from a ground level, what might these educational initiatives look like? This research presents the partnership between two Jesuit universities with shared goals and values: Loyola University Chicago, Quinlan School of Business, USA and Loyola Andalucía, Spain on their journey with young people to translate broader social impact goals into meaningful learning experiences through business course collaborations and a focus on the SDGs. Success factors, as observed across through three faculty led programs and one virtual course collaboration will be discussed, along with the challenges. These efforts were facilitated through 1) partnerships with businesses with a focus on sustainability, including Abengoa, L'Oréal, and Coca-Cola 2) building connection and community and 3) building capacities. In this manner, students were able to jointly work together towards a mutual goal; thus becoming more aware, empathetic, and competent future leaders.