Hosted by the Lincoln International Business School and Chaired by Prof. Ted Fuller and Dr Claire May, the UK and Ireland Regional Chapter Conference for the ‘Principles for Responsible Management Education’ (PRME) successfully took place between the 6th and 7th July 2021.
The ‘Principles for Responsible Management Education’ (PRME) is a means to realise the UN Sustainable Development Goals and a platform for academic institutions to underpin their teaching, research and thought leadership based on values of sustainability, responsibility and ethics (PRME 2019).
The conference theme ‘Crises and the Re-thinking of Responsibility’ was an acknowledgement of PRME’s ongoing key role in the shaping of responsible management education and to inspire each member to continuously re-think their purpose and practice. The declarations of a ‘Climate Emergency’, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the racial inequalities highlighted in 2020-2021 gave rise to opportunity for reflection on the consequences of business as usual, the role and response of responsible management education and the construction of the future.
More than 120 delegates from a range of Business Schools attended the two day virtual event with Lincoln having being selected as hosts due to their commitment to PRME. Due to ongoing Covid restrictions the event was held virtually, which in turn saw a reduction in travel emissions, excellent pre-recorded keynote speakers and a higher attendance.
There were three main themes to the papers and presentations: ‘Advancing pedagogy; Challenges and Opportunities, ‘Partnerships with Purpose; Breaking Boundaries’, and ‘Creating a Vision of Socially and Environmentally Responsible Management. A commitment from attendees to urgently move beyond ‘business as usual’ and to the significant role of the Universities and their contribution to wider society was noted.
Current Chair of UKI, Dr. Jonathan Louw, praised Lincoln for their organisation, delivery and technical support for the conference, the first in its history to be held fully online: “The keynotes were well chosen and received, the opportunities for members to present and debate were there in a variety of formats, the backroom technical team were excellent, and there were some novel (to PRME conferences) ways of capturing learning across the event that we shall definitely want to emulate in the future.
“We pride ourselves on creating and nurturing a community feeling at our conferences, and it was an open question as to how easy this might be within an entirely online environment. All indications, though, are that it was mission accomplished in this area as well.”
Global Chair Prof Fuller, added: “The whole LIBS team were brilliant and demonstrated beyond doubt that we can deliver a first class online conference. The conference showed how much the debate has developed in international business schools from the CSR roots. Sustainable Development Goals are on everyone’s lips and embedded in many of their courses. We can all learn from the range of high quality good practice and research being shared.
“However, my sense from the conference is that we need to move on from teaching about ‘responsible management’. We have started the conversation in LIBS, which needs to develop at pace. Collectively, humanity is facing existential crises; climate emergency; deadly pandemic and social disintegration. We don’t know the solutions and we cannot say to our students ‘this is your future responsibility’. We need to forge a new relationship with our students and clients, working together to learn and to address the challenges, sharing how we reshape the future; innovation as part of the natural world, not outside it.
“As our keynote speaker and University Chancellor, Lord Victor Adebowale, put it ‘if this is so important, then why not now and why not you’!”
Dr May commented: “I’m so pleased with how well the conference was received and the engagement we have had. We were disappointed that the pandemic prevented us from hosting the 2020 conference in person, however the online platform and excellent support from our technical team meant we delivered a conference which still maintained a sense of community. I am very grateful to the organising committee and technical team for all they did. The two days provided us with stark reminders of the challenges we all face but also inspiration from likeminded colleagues and highlighted the significance of our role as educators and the role of the University in working to address these challenges.”
The Lincoln International Business School wishes to extend sincere thanks to PRME UK and Ireland Chapter, all keynotes, presenters and workshop facilitators plus the delegates for their enthusiasm and engagement.