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Case study: How the KU Leuven FEB (Faculty of Economics and Business) integrates ethics, responsibility and sustainability themes into educational programs and research

Case study: How the KU Leuven FEB (Faculty of Economics and Business) integrates ethics, responsibility and sustainability themes into educational programs and research

Ranked among the top European economics and business schools, the KU Leuven FEB strives to prepare its 8,000 students to be responsible, committed citizens  Tweet This!, not least by incorporating ethics, responsibility and sustainability (ERS) themes into academic activities, courses and research.

This case study is based on the 2016 Sustainability Report by the KU Leuven FEB published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate that CSR/ sustainability reporting done responsibly is achieved by identifying an organization’s or company’s most important impacts on the environment and stakeholders and by measuring, managing and changing. 

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Abstract

The KU Leuven FEB (Faculty of Economics and Business) makes every effort to embed ethics, responsibility and sustainability (ERS) into study programs and research, with the aim of enabling students to deal effectively with sustainability issues as future business leaders and policy makers. In order to integrate ethics, responsibility and sustainability themes into educational programs and research the KU Leuven FEB took action to:

  • ensure ethics, responsibility and sustainability are present in FEB courses
  • promote education for sustainable development (ESD) through a range of learning activities
  • focus research on ethics, responsibility and sustainability issues

What are the material issues the organization has identified?

In its 2016 Sustainability Report the KU Leuven FEB identified a range of material issues, such as diversity and non-discrimination, gender equality, employee and student safety and welfare, economic impacts on local community, energy efficiency/CO2 reduction, waste reduction. Among these, integrating ethics, responsibility and sustainability themes into educational programs and research stands out as a key material issue for FEB.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The organization should identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups the KU Leuven FEB engages with:   

Stakeholder Group
Staff members
Student population

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritize material issues, the KU Leuven FEB carried out specific engagement activities:

  • In academic year 2014-2015, focused, in-class stakeholder engagement activities were conducted with students in the Corporate Social Responsibility course (Brussels campus).
  • In academic year 2015-2016, a FEB Sustainability and Diversity Survey among staff members and students on all campuses, was carried out.

What actions were taken by the KU Leuven FEB to integrate ethics, responsibility and sustainability themes into educational programs and research?

In its 2016 Sustainability Report the KU Leuven FEB reports that it took the following actions for integrating ethics, responsibility and sustainability themes into educational programs and research:

  • Ensuring ethics, responsibility and sustainability are present in FEB courses
  • In 2015-2016 a curricular assessment, based on a terminology scan, was carried out, to assess whether and to what extent ethics, responsibility and sustainability (ERS) themes were included in FEB courses. According to the assessment:
    • social/societal welfare themes were dealt with in 358 courses
    • environmental themes were dealt with in 115 courses
    • ethics was dealt with in 71 courses
    • corporate social responsibility was dealt with in 47 courses
    • sustainability was dealt with in 36 courses
    • market failure was dealt with in 28 courses
    • stakeholder inclusiveness was dealt with in 27 courses
  • Promoting education for sustainable development (ESD) through a range of learning activities
  • Examples of such activities include:
    • The Interdisciplinary Assessment Project (IAP) gives masters students in Business Engineering, Environment, Health and Safety Management and students in some majors in Industrial Engineering the opportunity to work together in interdisciplinary teams to address real-world business problems involving sustainability issues.
    • The International Study Visit to London brings students in the Environment, Health, and Safety program in contact with selected sustainable development/corporate social responsibility themes, in order to compare the Belgian to the UK perspective.
  • Focusing research on ethics, responsibility and sustainability issues
  • At the KU Leuven FEB, a number of research centres are focused on ethics, responsibility and sustainability (ERS) themes, including the following:
    • The Centre for Economics and Corporate Sustainability (CEDON), an interdisciplinary research group, is focused on the interactions between economics, business, sustainable development and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
    • The Centre for Economics and Ethics (CEE) is, among others, intended to support scientific research on the ethical aspects of economic activity.

Which GRI indicators/Standards have been addressed?

The GRI indicator addressed in this case is: G4-EC8: Significant indirect economic impacts, including the extent of impacts and the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 203-2 Significant indirect economic impacts

 

References:

1) This case study was compiled using published information by the KU Leuven FEB which is located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses but made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original please revert to the following link:

http://static.globalreporting.org/report-pdfs/2016/a381d415f07429499381c63ffa3ba685.pdf (December 2016)

2) http://www.fbrh.co.uk/en/global-reporting-initiative-gri-g4-guidelines-download-page

3) https://g4.globalreporting.org/Pages/default.aspx

4) https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/gri-standards-download-center/

Note to the KU Leuven FEB: With each case study we send out an email to your listed address in request for a comment on this case study. If you have not received such an email please contact us.

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