CBS responsibility day
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Business students demand sustainability

This week, The New Pioneers blog was recognized among the 50 Best Blogs for Green Business Students by Bschool.com, a leading online resource for MBA programs and top online business schools. I’m very honoured – particularly because today’s business students are a force to be reckoned with. As leaders of tomorrow, they hold the power to effect and even change the global course of business.

More and more business students are taking an interest in responsible capitalism. These students drive change by demanding more focus on socially conscious management, and schools are responding positively. In fact, the percentage of business schools worldwide that require students to take a course focused on business and society has increased steadily from 34 pct. in 2001 to 69 pct. in 2009, according to the Beyond Grey Pinstripes survey conducted by the Aspen Institute’s Center for Business Education.

As Rakesh Khurana, a Harvard Business School professor, explained to The Economist last year: “Students are saying they want business education to operate in a different way and that they want higher expectations from faculty. Just telling them to maximize shareholder value does not satisfy them any more. They want to get away from the cartoon image of business that they are taught in the classroom, to get useful practical advice on how to lead a firm in the 21st century.”

The old business school mantra show me the money is being replaced by the new mantra doing good and doing well.

Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, for example, has redesigned its curriculum largely based on student input from members of the US-based organisation, Net Impact, founded in 1993 for networking purposes by a group of business school students who want to use the power of business to address social and environmental challenges. Today, the network encompasses more than 10 000 young business leaders in 120 local chapters scattered across the whole world.

Nevertheless, corporate responsibility and sustainability have not yet become fully embedded in the mainstream of business-related education, which is why the United Nations has developed its Principles for Responsible Management Education (UN PRME) for business schools and universities worldwide. The aim is to support the development of ’a new generation of business leaders capable of managing the complex challenges faced by business and society in the 21st century’.

Back in September I spoke to over 800 Danish and international business students particpating in Responsibility Day 2010 at Copenhagen Business School. It was a full day dedicated to issues of responsibility, ethics and sustainability in both corporate and student life. During the day, I caught two of tomorrow’s business leaders to interview them about their sustainable student organization 360 and about what they call a ”bottom-up revolution” in business education. Watch the interview here:

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Posted in | CSR, Education, Globalization, New paradigms, Sustainable business, Tools & guidelines
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