Ethics and Sustainability in Curriculum: From Support to Strategy

AACSB's senior vice president and chief officer of Americas, Michael Wiemer, and María Helena Jaen, chair and distinguished professor at the Universidad de los Andes School of Management, discuss the fact that in order to successfully implement ethics and sustainability in to curriculum, it must be a holistic approach, involving all members from the bottom up.


Michael Wiemer: [00:19] When we think about some of the larger impacts that business schools can have in society for example, developing the next generation of great leaders, or business schools themselves having a larger positive societal impact topics of sustainability and ethics must be part of that conversation.

[00:35] I'm curious about how business schools can better incorporate ethics and sustainability into their existing programs and curricula.

María Helena Jaen: [00:44] This is a very good question. There is not a single answer. It depends on the context, the cultural environment in the school, the location, the country. Let's say that we make the decision to embed sustainability, corporate responsibility, and ethics in our curriculum. You need to work with faculty.

[01:11] You need to develop a bottom up approach, working with all the stakeholders of the school. I mean faculty, the student, the staff, alumni, employers. It's really important to listen to the voices of the different stakeholders regarding what you are doing. This is the first thing that I believe is really important to embed these topics in your curriculum.

[01:43] Second, you have to have the institutional capacity. What I mean by that is that you have to have first the faculty, faculty who love to teach sustainability, ethics, social responsibility. If you have this faculty, it's going to be much easier, because you have the faculty who knows how to teach that, the pedagogy, and to love to do research regarding those issues.

[02:15] You need to have also resources to back up the initiative. Having the institutional capacity, you can undertake this kind of reform in your curriculum. Another thing that I think is really important is that this initiative has to be in the agenda of the dean in his or her top priorities. This is really important.

[02:45] Finally, and not less important, is to have legitimate core team, the owners of the initiative, with the participation of faculty, of students. If you have an advisory board let's say one person for our advisory board you can have an alumni team, a core team, the coalition team to push this initiative in the school.

[03:09] I think that we have been thinking about this in ours. We decided to go with a transformative approach, a multi level approach, working with faculty, students, staff developing a mission driven initiative connected with the strategic planning of the school because this is really important. This initiative need to be part of the strategic plan of the school.

[03:33] If not, it's something that is not part of the DNA of the school.

Filmed at AACSB's Annual Accreditation Conference in Washington, D.C., September 2018.