Mainstreaming the SDGs in business schools

mainstreaming the SDGs

Two years into the Decade of Action, we are yet to collectively achieve a level of engagement that would set us on a path to achieving the Agenda of 2030. The way business schools approach sustainability plays a crucial role in building a positive future for the generations to come. Fortunately, the ERS initiatives are impressively growing in numbers and climbing up the priority list, yet in many cases, we are still to move beyond picking the low-hanging fruit and ticking off boxes towards a thorough strategy and commitment.

A lot of uncertainty remains around how to meaningfully and systematically address sustainability as a higher education institution. The complexity, ambiguity, interdisciplinarity, and interconnectedness make it impossible for people to follow a global recipe to easily integrate sustainability into business school programmes and operations. However, there is a global framework that has been steadily finding its way to the industry, not offering miraculous solutions, but proving to be an effective tool.

The SDGs were adopted as a general blueprint for the world’s peace and prosperity. They were not designed specifically for business schools; nonetheless, they are still valuable for business schools to recognise. Not only because embedding the SDGs into curricula, research, and operations is a way to regularly reflect on the global challenges, adapt and become synchronised with what is happening in the world. But also, because in the 17 Goals and 169 targets, every institution can find its unique way towards sustainability.

Still, the SDGs are a general set of objectives; they are not an action plan. How do we take the SDGs framework and make it operational in the business school environment?

“Mainstreaming the SDGs: Strategy, implementation, practice” is a training programme that focuses on just that. Organised by EFMD and developed and facilitated by leading experts in the sustainability field, Prof. Piet Naudé, Willem Fourie and Giselle Weybrecht. With the guidance of the course facilitators, guest speakers, peer-group discussions, mentorship and individual reflection and work, participants identify the synergies between the existing activities, strategy, mission and purpose and the SDGs, in order to establish the point zero of their institution and consequently, a way forward.

For the purpose of the programme, the Programme Director, Willem Fourie, has developed an SDG Integration Template as a practical tool for the participants. The aim of the Template is certainly not to tick boxes but to guide towards asking relevant questions, in order to determine the institution’s priorities, gaps, enablers, barriers and solutions and progressively build a custom plan toward a meaningful engagement of the SDGs.

“Mainstreaming the SDGs in Business Education” has been an inspiring course organised by EFMD Global discussing the challenges, solutions, and good practices in implementing the SDGs. I am truly thankful for the EFMD team for coordinating and facilitating this course, and my colleagues for sharing their experiences” Salma El Masri, Sustainability officer, ESLSCA University

Business schools, having influence over generations of students, play a crucial role in inspiring positive development and in the way the next years play out. Working with the SDGs framework can help build sustainability in the core curriculum, encouraging sustainability-related research, integrating sustainability in daily operations and engaging the staff, students and the local community to be actively involved. These are some of the necessary steps on the way to educating the sustainability natives of tomorrow. The generations living in a world where considering sustainability and long-term impact is not elective, but it is a part of daily life.

mainstreaming the SDGs

Our next “Mainstreaming the SDGs in business education” starts in October. Learn more about the programme and register now