How to Engage Students in Sustainability: Event Series

Business school sustainability centres are more powerful when they engage students. How can centre leaders do this well?

The NBS Sustainability Centres Community is holding a series of virtual events to explore the world of student engagement. Engagement can mean listening to students, enabling their ideas, and sparking their interest in sustainability.

From December 2022 through May 2023, leaders from 5 centres will host virtual café sessions to share their experiences and advice – and create space for discussion.  Read their session summaries below, and sign up using the registration links.  The goal of these sessions is to bring sustainability centres from across the world together to find ways to achieve the engagement and impact they all seek.

Session 1: Developing empathy among business school graduates

Host: Divya Singhal, Centre For Social Sensitivity and Action, Goa Institute of Management

Date: December 15, 2023, 9AM ET

How can educators develop empathy in their graduates?  For the past decade, Goa Institute of Management has used a service-learning based community engagement model.

Session leads will talk about how they designed and executed the program, its impact over the years, and how other schools could replicate it. Then, participants will discuss in groups how they could  build empathy within their own schools. Polls and questions will guide engagement throughout the session.

Join us: December 15, 2023, 9AM ET

Session 2: Exploring the intersection between futures studies and sustainable management

Host: Marina Schmitz, World Institute for Sustainability and Ethics (WISE), IEDC-Bled School of Management

Date: January 19, 2023, 9AM ET

Future studies” aims to imagine diverse futures and then provoke action and change. It can be an amazing way to engage students. If you’ve ever wondered how to use this approach in your teaching, join us.

This session will share insights from developing a course called “Future Scenarios for Sustainable Business Solutions”. The course introduces students to futures studies and sustainability in a management context, by developing visions/scenarios for respective corporate and industry-related sustainable futures.  We’ll discuss how to go beyond the introductory elements of futures studies, by using (inter)active and experiential learning methods. We’ll tear down the walls between management education and futures studies by learning about selected tools and methods e.g., solarpunk-inspired online role plays (inspired by sociodrama and improv in theater studies) or collaboration board-enhanced visioning exercises and prototyping, as well as futures literacy laboratories (FLL).

After presenting these tools and approaches, session participants will discuss ways to incorporate such exercises into management education to foster students’ futures literacy competence.

It is not necessary to prepare anything in advance – just bring an interest in challenging the way you currently teach your discipline in class. Resources will be shared with interested participants during and after the session to facilitate application in their respective institutions and courses.

Join us: January 19, 2023, 9AM ET

Session 3: Integrating sustainability across business bachelor programs

Host: Roman Mesicek, Institute International Trade and Sustainable Economy, IMC University of  Applied Sciences Krems

Date: February 16, 2023, 9AM ET

How can we ensure every business student is exposed to sustainability concepts?

IMC accomplishes this by introducing a sustainability and business ethics base course in all our bachelor courses. The goal is to lay the foundations for a systemic understanding of societal challenges, which students will reflect upon during further studies.

In this session, IMC will share our experiences and challenges so far in integrating this course across the Bachelor’s program. We are interested in learning from other centres’ experience with similar initiatives. Our intention is to host this as a lively, interactive session.

Join us: February 16, 2023, 9AM ET

Session 4: Each Discipline Makes a Difference: Defining the Business Curriculum of the Future

Host: Erik Foley, Center for the Business of Sustainability, Penn State University

Date: March 16, 2023, 9AM ET

Have you ever had a business student say “But I specialize in [Finance, Accounting, HR, etc.] How does sustainability apply to me?”

Sustainability is important for every discipline in business, and for every student. But how can educators make this connection clear?

At Penn State, we’ve created a website to make it easy – now we’re making the results of this work available to the world. This website was developed after 5 years of work with 30 faculty across every department in our business school. With these partners, along with student contributors, we identified how each business discipline contributes to sustainability. We have created a website and are This session will provide an overview of the sustainability-focused learning objectives by discipline we found, the beautiful site we have created, and recommendations for its use.

We would also love to discuss how to partner with centres on various use cases of the resource as well as collecting data on teaching effectiveness.

Join us: March 16, 2023, 9AM ET

Session 5: Guiding Student-Centered Sustainability Initiatives

Host: Justine Roberts, Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility, CU Boulder

Date: April 20, 2023, 9AM ET

Students have great energy for sustainability action. How can educators apply that energy to improve sustainability within the business school?

For years, Leeds business school has been providing experiential learning opportunities for students. Historically, this has meant workshops, treks, internships and external consulting projects.  Last year, as we came out of the pandemic, we began to ask what would it look like if we turned this lens inward, on the School itself? How can we live our values, and what role should and could students play in that process? To that end, we launched a “Sustainability Working Group.” It is a cross-functional community, that brings together undergraduate and graduate student government and student club leaders. It positions students as the key stakeholders and drivers of sustainability priorities for the School.

This session will present the working group model, and explain the process of launching it: using appreciative inquiry, writing a statement of purpose, and identifying priorities.   Next, participants from other schools can discuss how they have – or could – leverage student groups to drive change within their school.

Join us: April 20, 2023, 9AM ET

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