Education
Opinion Article
January 4, 2021

How to teach students to have a better impact

A few years ago, an academic friend of ours visited San Francisco, USA, and returned in shock because he realized that “half the people live the American dream. The other lives the American nightmare ”. The city's dichotomy was disturbing.

It is known that the world is a complex place and organizations (commercial and social) must be called upon to make a commitment to create a better world. Inserted in this climate of opportunities, tensions and inequalities, it is a fundamental mission of universities to prepare students to be able to understand the new organizational logic they will face in the future.

In the specific case of Management and Economics universities, it is harmful to narrow the teaching focus on financial gains. A limited view like this generates cyclical crises in the system, so it is urgent to include social, societal and environmental impacts in education and see them as essential factors for sustainable development. In Europe, the most prominent examples are the extended teaching projects that are visible in schools such as the Rotterdam School of Management or the Stockholm School of Economics.

Aware of this new reality, the Nova School of Business & Economics took on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), announced by the UN as an impact language and, for the first time in Portugal, it became the course of Managing Impactful Projects (MIP) mandatory for all undergraduate students in Management and Economics.

This year, more than 400 students were invited to accompany 66 organizations or companies of different purposes and dimensions, for 12 weeks, to build more and better impact, through the development and implementation of jointly created projects. They formed more sustainable business plans, partnerships, events and streamlined the digital presence of many organizations. Here are numbers that summarize the aggregated results: 86 kilos of food recovered, 1778 € raised and 1.366 interviewed for validating the solutions.

The world continues to host those who live the human dream and nightmare. We believe that by training people who can work in any part of the planet, putting into practice what they learned in courses such as Managing Impactful Projects, they will be able to identify problems and develop solutions that help make the world a better place.

This content was originally published in Portuguese in Exame.

Ricardo Zózimo and Inês Moreira

Ricardo is an Assistant Professor at Nova SBE and Inês is working in Nova SBE's Faculty Recruitment & Development.

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