B-schools need to re-examine the language of sustainability: PRME


Mumbai : As the world continues to battle with global crisis such as climate change, pandemic, systemic inequalities, etc., there is a need to rethink the purpose of business and re-examine the language of effectiveness to raise the profile of sustainability in management schools, observed Dr. Chandrika Parmar, faculty at Bhavan’s SPJIMR and also the current chair of PRME India chapter.

An initiative of the United Nations, PRME is a platform to raise the profile of sustainability in management schools around the world, with an aim to bring in gradual and systemic change in business schools to inspire and champion responsible management education and sustainability mind-set.

Speaking at the recently held annual meet of the PRME India chapter , Mette Morsing, Global head of UN Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), said “The language of success has to be the language of partnership”. She noted that there is an increasing call to re-examine the language of effectiveness, growth, productivity, efficiency that is taught in management schools if it comes at the cost of ecological degradation and inequalities.

The theme for this year’s annual meet was ‘Partnering to Build Sustainable Futures”. The meeting saw 267 participants from 67 institutions represented, including 31 Deans from management schools

Along with Dr Morsing, Alec Wersun, Member UN PRME Governing Chapter Council, regional chapter chairs of UK and Ireland Chapter Dr Jonathan Louw; Africa chapter chair Professor Sherwat Elwam Ibrahim and Australia and New Zealand chapter chair Professor Belinda Gibbons also attended the meeting.

Speaking on the theme of the chapter meet, the speakers agreed that the need of the hour is to collaborate and cooperate to deal with wicked problems -economic, ecological, social issues- to tip outcomes in favour of more sustainable outcomes. The meeting also pondered upon the need to re-examine the language of effectiveness, growth, productivity, efficiency that is taught in management schools if it comes at the cost of ecological degradation and inequalities.

Dr. Chandrika Parmar, India chapter chair pointed out that several schools across India and PRME community globally are doing stellar work individually in the domain of sustainability and in building an inclusive society.

“In India, given the context of inequities, it is a given in the Indian school’s context. Much of this sensibility was embedded long before agenda 2030 came into being. Each one inspires in a different way. In fact, in order to make changes within a system , we need lots of different people to engage with a lot of different initiatives to make a variety of changes; experimenting and nurturing their ideas passionately. The challenge is can we come together on a set of actions and practices to learn from and collaborate with each other? Can we find those spaces? As an academic community we are trustees and academic memory of the kind of solutions with which we hope to shape the future,” she noted.

The meet also witnessed a panel discussion of Deans where Ajit Parulekar, Director Goa Institute of Management, Madhuveera Raghavan, Director TAPMI, Suresh Ramanathan, Director Great Lakes, Shailendra Singh, Director, IIM Ranchi and Varun Nagaraj, Dean SPJIMR agreed that that collaboration must be a part of our DNA to achieve higher sustainable goals.

The panel also proposed various innovative ideas like a UN approved certificate program on sustainability and PRME Fest to showcase social projects and share best practices.

The chapter also saw panels on Positive Impact rating; Mapping Sustainable Development Goal via SDG Dashboard to see how various schools are engaging with the sustainability goals. That was followed with a discussion by a panel consisting of faculty and Dean’s of management schools on inculcating sustainability mind-set in participants of management schools. The discussion addressed instilling sustainability mind-set in classrooms by embedding it in curriculum, providing a context and right ecosystem where sustainability becomes not just another buzz word but part of a continuum embedded in personal and professional life.

As Professor Harivansh Chaturvedi, Director BIMTECH pointed out, “The old model of shareholder management has collapsed. Corporates have realised that they need to move towards a conscious stakeholder management model. The 50 Indian schools enrolled with PRME can play a vital role in transforming the nation in building a sensibility that contributes to achieving SDG goals”.

The last session was a student panel from several schools. The panelists shared the social and sustainable initiatives taken by their respective institutes. They reflected on the activities that have helped them build their own sensibilities about addressing issues around ecological and social issues plaguing the society.

Speaking about organizing the meet Shubendu from Development of Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability committee spoke about the importance and the learning experience from organizing an event which involved dealing with and listening to deans and professors of some of the most prestigious institutes of India and also international on issue of sustainability and building responsible managers.

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