Out of the gloom of the current world-wide financial crisis is an opportunity for business and management educators to prepare future business leaders through social responsibility and sustainable initiatives. Case Western Reserve University Professor David Cooperrider delivered this message at the United Nations' Global Forum for Responsible Management Education in New York City, December 4-5.
Cooperrider, the Fairmount Minerals Professor of Social Entrepreneurship and director of the Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit (BAWB) at the Weatherhead School of Management, delivered the opening address to over 300 attendees at the "Global Forum for Responsible Management Education."
"Sustainable value creation is the business opportunity of the 21st century," Cooperrider said. "It's also the biggest business school opportunity of our time."
The forum brought together supporters of the Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME), a plan to champion responsible management education, research and leadership globally. That document calls for educators to adapt their curricula, research, teaching methodologies and institutional strategies to today's business challenges and opportunities. Forum participants shared teaching methods and projects that place environmental and social responsibility into the core of business school education.
"The long-term growth of business is tied to its environmental and social impact," said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his address to the forum. "The corporate responsibility movement is driven by our need to find solutions to pressing global challenges."
Cooperrider cited BAWB's World Inquiry, a collection of 2,000 interviews and stories on sustainable business innovations. Other speakers noted school partnerships with businesses, nonprofits, and communities. Socially-minded study abroad programs were also highlighted as key to curriculum reinventions, most notably MBA students working to rebuild businesses in war-torn countries and creating sustainable business models for isolated Indonesian villages.
Calling these other projects "daring," Cooperrider said, "Future business schools will look more like design schools and will be alive with design studios, interdisciplinary teams and rapid prototyping. Managers will act as designers who recognize disruptive and unexpected innovation opportunities."
He expects the action-oriented event to be an innovation factory, a catalyst for exciting prototypes.
The theme "Manage by Designing" was selected as a theme for the 2009 Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit, scheduled to take place at Case Western Reserve in June 2009.
The PRME was a direct outcome of the first Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit, held at Case Western Reserve in October 2006. The PRME was instituted in 2007 by the United Nations and has been signed by 182 organizations worldwide.
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