The last couple of years have witnessed a gradual shift from the traditional modules taught in business schools to more contemporary modules that integrate current issues into their various programs. Research is suggestive of the fact that ‘Sustainability’ along with ‘Innovation’ have taken up the front row seats in the business classroom. As sustainability is a multi-disciplinary subject; it has emerged as a skill that managers worldwide are expected to possess. The role of sustainability in providing a competitive advantage to the business by enhancing its brand value and minimizing risks forces businesses to pay close attention to their social and environmental bottom-line. Businesses constantly seek sustainability knowledge as a key competency when hiring managers, therefore it is vital that business schools take this cue and work towards building this competency within their students. They need to develop their students into future change champions by arming them with the necessary tools and technologies required for sustainable development.
To ensure that business schools understand the expectations of the market; global and local organisations need to more involved with them. They need to provide internship opportunities to students to familiarize them with the current challenges prevalent in the industry. Students working alongside mentors can really benefit from understanding the business operations holistically. Involving the students in live projects and sustainability initiatives can broaden their perspective with regards to the scope of implementation. The course should not just entail theoretical concepts, but a clear focus should be on problem solving and application-based learning. It should take into consideration the local surroundings of the institution as well as benchmark with leading institutions worldwide to understand the advances in sustainability education.
Educators play a critical role in embracing the United Nations’ ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ to deal with the sustainability crisis. Sustainability is a global issue that requires collaboration at all levels, therefore individual countries or a handful of companies cannot solve the problem in isolation. It requires developing an eco-system that supports and harnesses innovative ideas and solutions. Hence, it is essential that business schools shoulder some part of the responsibility as well. They need to act as incubators that develop future leaders with competencies required to bring about the desired transformation.
Ms Sufia Munir