Conference Report: Global Forum for Responsible Management Education

Photographs from the UN Global Compact meeting 2015

Photographs from the UN Global Compact meeting 2015

This post continues the “what I did this summer” series following on from my EURAM Conference Report. At the end of June I was privileged to get the opportunity to take part in the 2015 Global Forum for Responsible Management Education in New York. The event brought together business and management educators from around the world to help shape the path of sustainable and responsible management education for the coming years. Highlights of the trip included the sight of 400 business school leaders meditating, meeting some academic heroes and the stunning views across Manhattan…

For those who have not come across the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative of the United Nations, it is a relationship between the United Nations and business schools globally which seeks to inspire and champion responsible management education, research and thought leadership globally. The initiative focusses on Six Principles of PRME inspired by internationally accepted values, such as the United Nations Global Compact’s Ten Principles for responsible and sustainable business and provides an engagement structure for academic institutions to advance social responsibility through incorporating universal values into curricula and research activities.

Screenshot 2015-07-23 17.22.49One of the main reasons I was recruited into the main institution I work for, Newcastle Business School at Northumbria University, was to manage our PRME project, gain PRME accreditation and oversee the development of programme curricula in this area. We achieved PRME accreditation in November 2014 and are now well on the way to becoming a much more responsible and sustainable business school.


Clearly deep in conversation!

The United Nations Global Compact convened the 2015 Global Forum for Responsible Management Education – 6th PRME Assembly alongside its Global Compact+15: Business as a force for good programme. The aim of attending the event was to join fellow business school academics and leaders in shaping the path for management education and business to take on a key leading role in shaping and achieving the global development agenda. The cohort comprised nearly 400 leaders of responsible management education and business, including deans, university presidents, professors, business school accreditation bodies and regional associations, students, as well as representatives from the UN, government, civil society, and corporate sustainability thought leaders. The result was a fascinating few days of debate, planning, knowledge sharing and networking.

The event was held on the top floor of Chase Plaza, New York, a stones throw from Wall Street and the US Stock Market. In many ways this was rather an opulent setting, and a little unsettling, however it did serve in my mind to remind us of the power that business has and as such the potential for business to develop and deliver solutions to the grand sustainability challenges that the world is currently facing – IF we can change the conception of business in the minds of leaders, managers and students, the aim of the PRME initiative. The venue also provided stunning views over Manhattan.


There were many workshops during the event alongside plenary sessions and talks from the keynote speakers, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, ex-chairman of Royal Dutch Shell and a director of HSBC Holdings and of Accenture (an interesting choice as a champion of responsible business perhaps) and Susana Malcorra – Chef de Cabinet (Chief of Staff) to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. One of the highlights of the event was the ‘Visioning’ session facilitated by Dr. Katrin Muff, Dean of Business School Lausanne. She managed successfully to persuade 400 senior professors, deans and business leaders to close their eyes and meditate as a means to ‘vision’ the business school of the future. As a proponent of meditation myself I was delighted to peep my eyes open and find the majority of the room complying. My own personal vision was of a ‘Montessori‘ style Business School that incorporated environment, nature and a free thinking style into professional education. More on that in a later post…

Whist the event was a lot of fun, as was checking out New York City, there was some serious business to be done. During the two days we:

  1. Identified major global trends for 2015-2030, including the role of business and management education in responding to the proposed UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  2. Engaged in interactive discussion, share good practices, and connect with peers and key stakeholders, including company representatives, to generate solutions and opportunities for responsible management education.
  3. Shaped a roadmap for how business and management education can leverage engagement through PRME to be leaders, building on active projects and outcomes from past PRME Global Fora and Summits.

You can see the results of the forum here: Outcome Statement.

Overall the experience was humbling, inspirational and highly motivational and I returned to the UK ready to take on the world and with a deep commitment to business, and business school reform…

If anyone else has experience of the UN PRME initiative or the Global Compact let me know in the comments!

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