Nurturing a better world through business education

With climate change and inequality among the growing risks affecting human well-being, business is under pressure to accept the issue of people and the planet in the context of the main point of profit; so is business education.

As we show in this FT Responsible Business Education report, there are already many examples of business schools that are responding to calls for change from students, faculty, staff and communities.

The FT covers these issues in its business education report and is revising the process of its business school ratings to enable the assessment of – and credit for – actions around sustainability and social purpose.

But metrics have their limits. As the broader debate about the role of the company, social relations and governance has shown, some topics are difficult to define quickly, equally and in detail. The same thing applies in education, which has an important role in training the next generation of managers and entrepreneurs.

That’s why we set up the Entrepreneurship Education Awards last year, to ensure that a wide range of activities are carefully scrutinized to showcase, reward and inspire the best examples of individualism. group.

We are grateful for a distinguished panel of judges who have deep expertise and passion in the field, and who come from across the corporate, non-profit, academic and other worlds.

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An important conclusion from the second year of this award is that the power of the first winners is not one time. We received another impressive list of submissions from around the world and identified a number of challenging projects for the shortlisted and joint winners.

This year, we have changed our criteria. After focusing in 2022 on the alumni “changemakers” entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs as the main “exit” of the business school, for 2023 we changed our focus. We are looking for examples of practical work that students “learn while doing” during their studies and projects in other organizations.

While the efforts of individual winners are commendable, their work also demonstrates the important role of the system that connects them to meaningful work. ESMT in Berlin has a Leadership Partnership, for example, allowing MBA and master’s graduates to provide pro-bono support to organizations meeting social challenges in low-income countries. money.

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For another winner, the Hult Prize is an important fruit, in the form of a global competition that challenges university students to overcome social problems through business and provides money to help them test their ideas .

Recognizing the importance of what is taught in the classroom, our second prize this year is for innovative approaches to teaching – focusing on decision-making for sustainability or climate change.

The growing business school gave many important lectures, which had an impact because they reached a large number of students. The judges concluded that some of the best things went beyond the traditional case, offering online training, simulations, lectures, counseling and even meditation.

Many authors have teamed up with different business schools and released it for free online, in a way that allows their peers to reach other places.

The final award is for academic research with social impact and evidence of uptake in practice. It is written by many authors who are better in different companies, departments and countries, and published in different formats.

Determining why is not easy. Often, however, scholars continue to define influence as the reality of publications in professional journals, which provide strong peer review and have a narrow readership. . The best ones at least search or copy their research articles in the media and professionals.

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In contrast, the best entries describe the efforts of their authors to share their ideas in a broad way, engaging in public debate and direct participation in decision-making in public and private institutions. Their methods have had more significant success, in fields as diverse and significant as modern slavery and organ transplants.

Good academic researchers may not be the best candidates to disseminate or implement their ideas widely, nor should the pressure to produce useful tools be allowed to undermine independence. their intelligence.

But a greater effort of business schools is needed to encourage them to focus on social challenges, to connect their ideas to action, and to improve the incentives that are critical for research that ends in teaching or results.

We welcome feedback on these awards, including ideas for improvement and suggestions for how to ensure we receive deeper and broader submissions in the future – particularly from business schools across the North America and western Europe.

Andrew Jack is the FT’s global education editor


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