2017 UN Prime Report

The following is an excerpt of the report. To read the entire report, click here.

At the Leeds School of Business, our commitment to the Six PRME Principles is rooted in our culture – they are embedded in our teaching, research and outreach. Leeds faculty have developed a pedagogy to reinforce the importance of ethics, social responsibility, sustainability and diversity & inclusion over the entire course of a student’s academic career. Through a combination of curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, students develop durable skills and character traits nec- essary for social innovation, holistic leadership and statesmanship.

A major accomplishment during this reporting period is that, starting in the 2016-2017 school year, 100% of first-year and second-year Leeds students have experienced the redesigned curriculums of the World of Business and Business Ethics and Social Responsibility, respectively. Faculty deliver these courses at the beginning of the student’s journey at Leeds, andintentionally and explicitly integrate the topics of the SDGs throughout the semester. A multidisci- plinary team of faculty drawn from the Center for Education on Social Responsibility (CESR) and the Divisions of Finance and Management collaborated on the redesign of the World of Business under the auspices of the DeSoto Initiative. The Initiative brings together faculty from diverse disciplines to teach and conduct research on ethics, markets, social responsibility and sustainability with a focus on emerging markets.

In another key outcome, CESR identified the opportunity to raise the professional standards for emerging corporate social responsibility (CSR) professionals in Colorado. We launched the Certificate in Corporate Social Responsibility in 2016 as an executive education course offered in partnership with B:CIVIC, a Colorado nonprofit association for CSR professionals. Entering its fourth semester in January 2018, we have learned that we can have a positive influence in our region by advancing the number of professionals with practical CSR knowledge.

Our outreach has the twofold goal of promoting student engagement while providing a benefit to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations. We have a particular focus on engaging local UN Global Compact (GC) signatories. For example, student-led teams have engaged executives at such local GC signatories as Seagate and Newmont Mining. In one project, student-led teams analyzed a company’s nonfinancial reports to identify specific SDGs that align with operations. The teams then identify Key Performance Indicators associated with specific targets of the relevant SDGs. Finally, the teams report out to executives with recommendations on product or project development that assist the company in further demonstrating progress.

The Nike SDG pilot project resulted from the students in the CESR Trek to Portland making connections with company executives. The success of the pilot for both students and the company demonstrated that collaboration between business schools and industry
are valuable for all. Because of Dr. Mark Meaney’s leadership as UN PRME Chapter North AmericaChairperson, this model of collaboration toward achievement of the SDG between signatories of the GC and PRME is growing. As a result, Leeds has formed similar partnerships with Vail Resorts and Seagate.

Another significant accomplishment is that in September 2015, the UN High Commission on Refugees issued a Call to Action in partnership with the GC and PRME. Leeds was the only business school in the United States to answer the Call, with CESR hosting a Regional Summit on Refugees.

Issues in October 2016: The CESR Fellows, an undergraduate student group, contributed significantly to the planning of the event. The Summit assembled federal, state, county and municipal government officials; NGOs; business leaders with a commitment to hiring refugees; and five regional business schools. The most significant outcome was that stakeholders gained an understanding that refugees are often entrepreneurs who start new businesses that create wealth, employ local residents and stimulate investment.

Moving to our research initiatives, our culture encourages in-depth, academic investigation in such diverse areas as clean energy, environmental entrepreneurship, gender equality, poverty reduction, resilient cities, sustainable agriculture, the rights of indigenous peoples, and public-private partnerships. In short, Leeds faculty conduct research with a focus on the future of society. In this report, we highlight two groundbreaking projects in wind energy and the rights of indigenous people.

As we look forward to the next two years, we are excited to share some of our plans to further our progress on the PRME Principles and SDGs. We have specific plans to increase our engagement with PRME by building on existing recruitment efforts of Dr. Meaney. In March 2018, our Conscious Capitalism Conference, with the theme of Authentic Leadership, will promote dialogue between diverse attendees including regional universities, nonprofit organizations and businesses. We will deepen our relationship with the burgeoning Natural Foods and Organics industry in our region through CESR’s emerging partnership with the Naturally Boulder professional association. We will continue to work with the City of Boulder Taskforce on the Circular Economy, assisting the City as an Ellen MacArthur Foundation designee.

For our students, we will deliver a new undergraduate course on the Fundamental of Responsible Leadership as part of a new Leeds Leadership Track. We aim to enhance student engagement by doubling both the membership of CESR Fellows and the enrollment in the Socially Responsible Enterprise Certificate program by the 2018-19 school year. We will broaden access to our all our degree programs for women through our End the Gap 2020 initiative.

Throughout this report, we discuss the Six Principles by analyzing our implementation of key programs and initiatives that align with each Principle and the SDGs. In each section, we provide examples of student-focused and community-focused programs.

Finally, it is worth sharing that we took an innovative approach to creating this report. A Leeds undergraduate student researched, wrote and designed a substantial portion. As a consequence, the report provides an accurate and thorough reflection of the student experience and concurrently provided the student with the opportunity to deepen their understanding of Principles and SDGs. We hope it will serve as a replicable example of the implementation of a key PRME strategic goal: student engagement.

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