In this short case study, DMU’s Leanne de Main (Associate Dean Academic, Faculty of Business and Law BAL)) describes how the faculty recently achieved accreditation through the ‘PRME’ framework – which articulates Principles of Responsible Management Education… 

Can you briefly introduce the PRME framework – what does it address, why is it there and how do universities such as DMU demonstrate that they are meeting it?

PRME was founded in 2007 as a platform to raise the profile of sustainability in business schools around the world. PRME works with businesses and business schools to ensure that future leaders try to incorporate the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their companies. It is a public commitment to provide education that supports and develops leaders who are passionate about putting social responsibility and sustainability at the forefront of business. 

There are six key principles which a university commits to once becoming a signatory of PRME:

  • Principle 1 | Purpose
    • We will develop the capabilities of students to be future generators of sustainable value for business and society at large and to work for an inclusive and sustainable global economy.
  • Principle 2 | Values
    • We will incorporate into our academic activities, curricula, and organisational practices the values of global social responsibility as portrayed in international initiatives such as the United Nations Global Compact.
  • Principle 3 | Method
    • We will create educational frameworks, materials, processes and environments that enable effective learning experiences for responsible leadership.
  • Principle 4 | Research
    • We will engage in conceptual and empirical research that advances our understanding about the role, dynamics, and impact of corporations in the creation of sustainable social, environmental and economic value.
  • Principle 5 | Partnership
    • We will interact with managers of business corporations to extend our knowledge of their challenges in meeting social and environmental responsibilities and to explore jointly effective approaches to meeting these challenges.
  • Principle 6 | Dialogue
    • We will facilitate and support dialog and debate among educators, students, business, government, consumers, media, civil society organisations and other interested groups and stakeholders on critical issues related to global social responsibility and sustainability.

A central commitment of any institution participating in the PRME initiative is to regularly share information with its stakeholders on the progress made in implementing the Six Principles through a Sharing Information on Progress (SIP) report. As a key integrity measure, the SIP’s main objective is to serve as a public vehicle for information on responsible management education. In addition, the SIP can be an effective tool for facilitating stakeholder dialogue and a learning community among signatories.

In DMU’s case when did we gain accreditation through PRME? What were the strong examples of practice we were able to report on?

To be accepted, DMU had to demonstrate that it had integrated sustainability across the curriculum and promoted a socially responsible approach. Our application was accepted early in 2021. We were able to demonstrate a strong commitment to the principles already. For example, DMU is the only UK university to be chosen as a hub for SDG 16, to promote peace, justice and strong institutions. We do that by sharing best practice with other higher education institutions around the world, and embedding the SDGs throughout the curriculum. DMU has committed to run three projects a year during its tenure as the global hub for SDG 16. 

Gaining PRME accreditation, we were able to demonstrate immediate impact by becoming one of the founding members of the Midlands PRME Chapter. We also submitted eight student assignments to the annual writing competition led by the UK PRME Chapter.

A number of academic staff have joined global PRME working groups including those focused on the challenge of poverty, gender equality and business for peace. Being part of a global network allows us to learn from each other and to share ideas with staff and students in DMU.

PRME encourages social responsibility and sustainability. What are the benefits for students in your faculty of having these issues highlighted in their degree at DMU or through co-curricular activities? Experiential learning and having a real-world impact through learning activities are strongly recommended approaches when teaching sustainability at universities. How is this done through courses in BAL?

Many of our students are already change makers and are keen to engage in opportunities related to the SDG’s. From an early stage in our PRME journey, we recruited student PRME Ambassadors. Students are co-creators of our PRME strategy and Ambassadors have already planned a number of student and staff events to promote the key principles. Our next step through our PRME steering committee is to identify good practice in the Faculty and to embed the principles into our upcoming curriculum review.

In addition to curriculum-based activities, we are exploring more holistic experiences such as a PRME focused student society with DSU, field trips with a purpose and student competitions. In consultation with our external advisory group of industry experts, we have identified a number of opportunities for our students to work on live, authentic projects as part of their studies.

We understand that our own organisational practices should serve as example of the values and attitudes we convey to our students.

Going through the PRME process must have highlighted further opportunities to enhance teaching about responsible and sustainable business and management. What opportunities exist for the future?

An immediate opportunity is our curriculum review in BAL. We are reviewing all of our programmes and this provides an ideal opportunity over the coming six months to truly embed the SDGs and the principles of PRME into our curriculum.

Our overall aim is for sustainability to become engrained in our values as a Faculty and not as an add-on. Becoming a signatory of PRME enables us to draw together our best practices, work with colleagues across the university and to discover new ideas together.

In partnership with our students, BAL has some exciting initiatives and plans for the future!