The 'Win-Win' of Sustainable Development Goals in Business Education

Assistant dean of graduate and online programs at the Kent State University College of Business Administration, Cathy DuBois, gives examples of how business schools can embrace the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and why the SDGs should be an essential part of business education.


Cathy DuBois: [0:05] Business schools can address the Sustainable Development Goals in a number of ways. They can work directly with students with organizations to do projects so that they are moving the ball down the court for whatever constituent group they're working with.

[0:35] They can do strategic planning for organizations that are addressing Sustainable Development Goals. They can engage students and going out and learning things and bringing them back to organizations.

[0:52] The notion of sustainability when we were only teaching about sustainability in corporate social responsibility, and that was the language that we had because we didn't have the Sustainable Development Goals. That was rather broad and vague and a bit confusing.

[1:10] When the Sustainable Development Goals came from the United Nations, now we have a language that is much more specific. It's something that organizations can use more strategically.

[1:29] When we are teaching about the Sustainable Development Goals and the college business, we can talk strategically about a business and its business goals, and which Sustainable Development Goals are related to that. It lifts it out of the notion of being a do-gooder.

[1:53] Where sustainability and corporate social responsibility is actually a cost to business. It brings it into the realm of how can we contribute in this specific manner that works for our business and is meaningful to our stakeholders.

[2:11] If in our production processes we can deal with clean water or we can deal with better working conditions or we can deal with education. These are things that then support the business. You get these win win situations, where sustainability is not something vague.

[2:37] Something that businesses shouldn't entertain because it's environmentalism, it's political in nature. It lifts it all out of that realm. Business schools can address any of the Sustainable Development Goals because as we deal with the whole array of organizations, they are related to all of the different Sustainable Development Goals.

[3:04] We can very easily teach across the full spectrum of the Sustainable Development Goals. If you go in and look at faculty research, you will probably find easily that a third of your faculties research somehow relates to the Sustainable Development Goals.

[3:22] Not that the researchers set out to do that, but there's so much research on diversity that addresses Sustainable Development Goal. Number five, gender issues, or number 10, reduced inequalities. Those kinds of things.

[3:39] If you have economic research that's looking at the economics of health issues, now you're dealing with Sustainable Development Goal number three. It's very easy to bring the Sustainable Development Goals into a college of business and meaningfully engage your faculty, your students, the businesses in your community, the nonprofits in your community.

[4:04] It's just a lovely language to use to help move everything toward business as a force for good.

Filmed September 2019 at AACSB's Global Accreditation Conference in San Antonio, Texas, USA.