The role of an international business lecturer has undergone a huge transformation in recent times with the rise of AI powered technologies and coping with globalization of business. One of the focal themes that has arisen involves the integration of sustainability education into the curriculum of international business.
Sustainability education in international business
It is expected that students understand the global nature of sustainability challenges. If students are well-aware of the sustainable development challenges, they will be better equipped to navigate effectively in the global business landscape.
Sustainability education is relevant for several reasons and it can be applied differently to different courses. The focus is on three main issues, which I have incorporated in my teaching as they remain important in providing a comprehensive understanding of sustainability education to our international business students.
Sustainable development and triple bottom line
To enhance students’ understanding of sustainability, it is important to understand sustainable development and its three core pillars: economic prosperity, social equity and environmental quality.
A business can only become sustainable when it incorporates the three pillars of sustainable development in its operations and attempts to strike a balance between them. It is important for businesses to consider the triple bottom line—people, planet and profit. (Elkington 1994.)
Being fair and respectable to people and local communities and respecting the planetary boundaries while being profitable is important. It is imperative for the students to recognise the interconnectedness of environmental, social and economic systems.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and stakeholder engagement
The World Business Council has defined CSR as follows in year 2000: CSR is the commitment by businesses to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce, communities and society at large. (Dahlsrud 2006).
Emphasizing the significance of CSR and stakeholder engagement is crucial when educating international business students. Students must understand the significance of considering the concerns of various stakeholders beyond shareholders.
Moreover, it is important to discuss case studies of different businesses that have successfully incorporated CSR in their business operations and have gained immensely so that students understand the importance of doing well by doing good.
Discussing ethical dilemmas that international business students may face while pursuing international business is of utmost importance. It is important to raise the awareness of ethical challenges like corruption, bribery, intellectual property infringement, harmful global sourcing, unethical management practices etc. that corporations face in the foreign markets and explore the strategies to address them (Cavusgil, Knight & Riesenberger 2020).
Teaching the students to explore different ethical frameworks and how they apply to international business decisions is important.
Incorporating sustainability education in curriculum
Incorporating sustainability education in international business studies has now become indispensable for equipping students to confront the complexities of the global business environment. This can only be accomplished if international business educators also recognize the importance of sustainability education and refine their own capabilities to adapt to the evolving times by enhancing their understanding of sustainability.
Nowadays, incorporating sustainability education in curriculum is mandatory for achieving accreditations like EQUIS- EFMD and others. Haaga-Helia is now in the process of acquiring EFMD accreditations for the international business unit and incorporating sustainability education to international business curriculum.
Cavusgil, S. T., Knight, G., & Riesenberger, J. 2020. International Business: The New Realities, 5th Ed. (5th ed.) Pearson Education.
Dahlsrud, A.2006. How corporate social responsibility is defined: an analysis of 37 definitions. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 15, 1–13, 2006.
Elkington, J. 1994. Towards the sustainable corporation: win-win-win business strategies for sustainable development. California Management Review, Volume 36, Number 2.
Editing: Marianne Wegmüller