Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME)
The transformation into a sustainable society is one of the great challenges of the 21st century. Business schools are called on to contribute. They must ensure that their students understand the interrelationships between their actions and ecological and social challenges, and that they reflect on their responsibility as future specialists and managers. Moreover, their graduates will need to know the models and tools that enable companies to understand and implement sustainability and social responsibility as a success factor. At the ZHAW School of Management and Law, we are aware of this task. Our lecturers, researchers, and staff have been committed to it for years. The Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) are the ideal tool to develop our organization further in this respect. In 2014, the SML made a clear commitment by signing up to the PRME initiative.
6 Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME)
These are the six PRMEs that can support universities in the implementation of responsible management education:
- Principle 1: Purpose
- We will develop the capabilities of students to be future generators of sustainable value for business and society at large and to work for an inclusive and sustainable global economy.
- Principle 2: Values
- We will incorporate into our academic activities, curricula, and organizational practices the values of global social responsibility as portrayed in international initiatives such as the United Nations Global Compact.
- Principle 3: Method
- We will create educational frameworks, materials, processes and environments that enable effective learning experiences for responsible leadership.
- Principle 4: Research
- We will engage in conceptual and empirical research that advances our understanding about the role, dynamics, and impact of corporations in the creation of sustainable social, environmental and economic value.
- Principle 5: Partnership
- We will interact with managers of business corporations to extend our knowledge of their challenges in meeting social and environmental responsibilities and to explore jointly effective approaches to meeting these challenges.
- Principle 6: Dialogue
- We will facilitate and support dialog and debate among educators, students, business, government, consumers, media, civil society organisations and other interested groups and stakeholders on critical issues related to global social responsibility and sustainability.
More than 650 universities in 85 countries have joined the PRME initiative. It has one mission: "PRME is the UN Global Compact’s initiative to transform management education, research and thought leadership globally by providing the Principles for Responsible Management Education framework, developing learning communities and promoting awareness about the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals." And it has one vision: "the UN Sustainable Development Goals realised through responsible management education." The members of the initiative are organized into 15 regional chapters. These develop their own agreements and activities, but they are all committed to the following four objectives:
- provide a support platform for members,
- increase the visibility of PRME and its members in the region,
- adapt the six PRMEs to the local context, and,
- develop and promote PRME-relevant activities.
The German-speaking countries, i.e., Germany, Austria, and Switzerland belong to the PRME Chapter DACH. After two years of preparation and following a joint initiative by Pforzheim University, the Innsbruck Management Center (MCI), and Chur University of Applied Sciences, the regional PRME DACH Chapter was founded in February 2014. Since then, it has worked based on a continuous exchange to develop the fundamentals and establish working groups to fulfill the four objectives mentioned above. The DACH Chapter also organizes an annual Responsible Management Education Research Conference, which takes place alternately in the DACH region and outside. In 2017, the conference was hold in Curitiba (Brazil) and in 2018 it will be held in Cologne.
Some of the most experienced and dedicated universities are part of the PRME Champions Group for a period of two years. The mission of the Champions Group is to take a leadership role in thinking and acting in the context of responsible management education within the framework of the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development.
PRME at the SML
PRME and the Sustainable Development Goals
Sustainable development has been the guiding principle of the United Nations since 1987. The Brundtland Report defines it as follows: "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." In September 2015, the United Nations adopted the "Agenda 2030" on Sustainable Development. This includes 17 goals - the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They define social, economic, and environmental milestones that are to be achieved worldwide by 2030 and form the basis for the work of PRME. The vision statement of the initiative is "Realizing the sustainable development goals through responsible management education." In the future, all activities of the PRME initiative to support the SDGs will contribute to this.
PRME and Education for Sustainable Development
From 2005 to 2014, the United Nations committed itself with the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development to embed the principles of sustainability in its education systems. Switzerland has also declared sustainable development a national objective. The United Nations has set up a five-year World Action Program (WAP) on the UN Decade "Education for Sustainable Development". Human coexistence is dependent on national and international sustainability in all areas of life. The WAP was launched on 12 November 2014 at the UNESCO World Conference in Nagoya (Japan). The Declaration adopted there calls for all Member States of UNESCO to continue their commitment to this concept of education and to increase it. It aims to implement education for sustainable development in a more targeted and specific manner in all learning areas.
In order to achieve sustainable development, appropriate education for sustainable development (EDS) is vital. ESD takes place in different areas: kindergartens, schools, extracurricular activities, and universities, among others. Through the World Action Program, universities are increasingly encouraged to promote competencies for sustainable development. University education for sustainable development takes place in different disciplines - business administration being one of them. In this area, sustainable development is ensured through the PRME initiative and by means of responsible management training. In addition to concrete content, ESD is intended to impart "design competence" because good education goes beyond pure factual knowledge. It conveys abilities and values and enables students to develop foresight, interdisciplinary knowledge, autonomous action, and participation in social decision-making processes. Design competence refers to the ability to apply knowledge about sustainable development and to recognize problems of unsustainable development.