Sustainability topics in bachelor, master and executive programs
In 2016, SSE restructured its largest bachelor program, the BSc. Business and Economics, profoundly to equip students with the knowledge and skills for responsible leadership to address the most urgent environmental problems and societal issues of our time. The "Global Challenges" track, consisting of four modules spanning over two years has provoked a lot of attention inside and outside the School, and the Program Management Team works continuously on improving it based on student feedback. But in line with our educational mission FREE and our commitment to the United Nations' "Principles of Responsible Management Education", we seek to emphasise sustainability as key issue for business professionals and future leaders in all programs from undergraduate to the executive level.
SSE offers bachelor, master and PhD programs, executive education and MBA courses, and since 2016 it is an official requirement that all students graduating from SSE acquire knowledge on sustainable development, either as stand-alone courses on the topic, or as items within discipline-focused core courses as business management, accounting, corporate finance or economic theory. Since sustainability is a broad and complex concept, and SSE curricula embrace a variety of methods and scientific approaches, Misum, the Mistra Center for Sustainable Markets at SSE, produced a framework to map courses based on the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and set benchmarks for further developments.
Using the SDGs as a point of departure is reasonable since they account for the trinity of economic development, ecological integrity and social justice and provide a broad set of indicators for those three dimensions. They have become a common framework for political discussions as well as corporate actions. However, the overarching labels like “life on land” (SDG 15), “zero hunger” (SDG 2) or “decent work and economic growth” (SDG 8) are not directly applicable to the Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) of business school programs. The first step to produce the 'sustainability map' for SSE courses was therefore to derive a list of key words to cover the core themes behind the 17 SDGs and 169 sub-targets. These key words can be used to assess in how far the different courses deal with sustainability, based on their ILOs, syllabi and other course material. Besides the shere content it is also important, with regard to FREE, how the respective issues are conveyed, e. g. if it is a single presentation, assigment, guest lecture, student project etc.
The mapping shows that about 50% of all courses deal with issues like CSR, ethics, inequality, collaborative management and human well-being, yet often in an implicit manner. Along with the development of the BSc. Business and Economics and Global Challenges, the next step is therefore to produce an overview of topics per program for both students and teachers.