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Why business schools need to strengthen RME?

2023-02-13China Sustainability Tribune责任编辑0

Mette Morsing

Head of Principles for Responsible Management Education, United Nations Global Compact

In 2007, the United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education (UN PRME) was officially launched at the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit in Geneva, providing business schools and other management education institutions with guiding principles for conducting research and teaching on responsible management, which is of great significance to cultivate responsible business leaders.
Six Principles of PRME

Principle 1 | Purpose

We will develop the capabilities of students to be future generators of sustainable value for business and society at large and to work for an inclusive and sustainable global economy.

Principle 2 | Values

We will incorporate into our academic activities, curricula, and organisational practices the values of global social responsibility as portrayed in international initiatives such as the United Nations Global Compact.

Principle 3 | Method

We will create educational frameworks, materials, processes and environments that enable effective learning experiences for responsible leadership.

Principle 4 | Research

We will engage in conceptual and empirical research that advances our understanding about the role, dynamics, and impact of corporations in the creation of sustainable social, environmental and economic value.

Principle 5 | Partnership

We will interact with managers of business corporations to extend our knowledge of their challenges in meeting social and environmental responsibilities and to explore jointly effective approaches to meeting these challenges.

Principle 6 | Dialogue

We will facilitate and support dialog and debate among educators, students, business, government, consumers, media, civil society organisations and other interested groups and stakeholders on critical issues related to global social responsibility and sustainability.

Sustainable development is the common language and goal of the world, and with the vigorous rise of CSR research and practice in China, Chinese universities and business schools are paying more and more attention to integrating the concepts and courses of sustainability and CSR into education and teaching.

In May 2021, PRME Chapter China was officially established, aiming to empower  business schools in China to accelerate the development of responsible management education(RME). Recently, with the assistance of Associate Professor Cao Xuanwei, Director of Centre for Responsible and Sustainable Business Education in International Business School at Suzhou,Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University(XJTLU), China Sustainability Tribune had an exclusive interview with Dr. Mette Morsing, Head of UN PRME,  to learn more about PRME and its value to responsible management education in China through her sharing.


The introduction of RME in business schools has become a trend


In what context was PRME launched 

and what progress has been made?

The Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), the largest initiative on responsible management launched by the United Nations system to date, was launched in 2007 by deans of several university business schools and professors after a solid consultation, and supported by the UN Global Compact. In my opinion, PRME is an active movement for people to deeply reflect and criticize business and conform to the trend of the times. PRME's philosophy is to change education management and nurture responsible decision-makers who can advance sustainable development in the future.

Since its establishment, PRME has actively acted as a platform to facilitate the exchange of knowledge among business schools around the world, including different forums, conferences and events for deans, faculty and students, to promote the transformation towards sustainable development, especially the UN Sustainable Development Goals. At present, nearly 900 business schools (schools of economics and management), universities and other educational institutions in more than 90 countries around the world have joined PRME, covering more than 300,000 faculty members and 4 million students, and have established 17 regional PRME Chapters around the world.


What do you think makes PRME vibrant, 

and how does the PRME Secretariat 

promote and support PRME's 

development globally?

In recent years, the PRME Secretariat has been actively engaged in communication with different stakeholders to understand their needs and actively promote cooperation.

For example, we work with corporate foundations to secure resources from PRME to promote teaching innovation around the world; under the governance structure of the PRME Advisory Board and the Committee, we work with experts and scholars from all over the world to promote the exchange and sharing of the PRME global network; we conduct PRME research paper exchange workshops; organize international symposium on responsible management education; and empower and guide young students around the world through the PRME program.

Every year in June, we organize the PRME Global Summit, inviting all academies that have joined PRME, especially PRME champion schools and colleges around the world, to PRME Secretariat in New York for in-depth exchanges, presentations and learning.

Since the School of Economics and Management of Tsinghua University joined PRME in 2008, 28 business schools and universities in China have joined PRME. We are very happy about this and look forward to more institutions from China joining us.


Business schools have a role to influence the values of the business world


In May 2021, PRME China Chapter 

was established. It is understood that at 

that time, the business schools of 19 

universities in China joined the PRME. 

How do you see the development of 

PRME in China and the interaction 

between China and the PRME community 

in the rest of the world?

By now, 28 business schools and universities in China have signed up for PRME and I am a very proud of that and very happy for it. I am very pleased to see that the growth of Chinese universities joining PRME has accelerated over the past year, and I am very much looking forward to more Chinese business schools joining PRME in 2023. Through previous exchanges with Chinese colleagues, I learned that they are paying more and more attention to education for sustainable development.

We have also noted some strategic initiatives in China in terms of innovation and entrepreneurship and the promotion of responsible management education, and we are very much looking forward to learning more about this. For example, how Chinese universities are advancing education for SDGs such as climate change, and I know that many PRME regional chapters around the world are willing to engage in more exchanges and mutual learning with Chinese universities. I also look forward to more exchanges and in-depth discussions with Chinese universities.


Drawing on the development experience 

of hundreds of business schools 

from many countries in the PRME 

community, what suggestions do 

you have for promoting responsible 

management education in Chinese 

business schools?

Thank you very much for this question. There is a lot of things of that deans and faculty at Chinese schools and universities can do. And let me to start by mentioning two. First, I think that deans and faculty could take a look and review the curriculum system, looking upon what is actually brought into the classroom. I think that is very important. I can just use my own case as example when I was a professor at Stockholm School of Economic.

A group of students came into my office one day and invited me for a seminar on the coming Friday. So we went to that seminar one hour on a Friday afternoon with these seven Swedish students. They had gone through the entire curriculum across all programs in the school because they thought that we were not good enough as educators and professors to teach them about climate change.

Then they came up with ninety suggestions for how we could integrate climate change into our courses, into our programs, into the curriculum when we are teaching these students. You can imagine how we first reacted when a group of students is telling a group of professors what to put in the curriculum. But then again we discussed and some of us actually changed our curriculum and adopted some of these climate change issues and suggestions from students. So, I think the review of the curriculum will be needed for deans and faculty because if we don't do it ourselves, our students will come and ask us to do so.

And the second is to focus on how can we actually educate the educator, how can we train the trainer of making the professor more skillful in teaching, and here I'm not just referring to the curriculum reform and innovation, but I'm also referring to the pedagogy that professors bring in knowledge and discussions to the classroom and that. In this era of rapid change, it is imperative that professors constantly learn how to teach better.


Leading companies in China 

are paying more and more 

attention to CSR, SDG, ESG 

and want to systematically integrate 

them into their corporate 

development strategies, but this 

is still in the process of exploration. 

Could you tell us about 

PRME Education Academy's 

practice in working with companies?

Yes, I think this is very very important that we as business schools work together with businesses. We have some great examples in business schools in Colombia and Lebanon. Students, business and faculty have been working together, creating project together, and creating competitions together for students to address real challenges themselves in practical reality for businesses. Students and teachers establish close practical collaboration with enterprises, giving students the opportunity to solve problems in practice, even in innovative ways to solve those pending problems.

I think it's important for students to observe, ask questions, challenge and even reframe business practices, and companies should provide students with such opportunities. I would really love to hear more about in the Chinese experiences with this kind of collaboration.

Source: China Sustainability Tribune



Six Principles of PRME




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