Feature series: SR in the curriculum
(4 March 2016)
In support of the priority to encourage socially responsible graduates, Humanities provides funding to course leaders through the annual Social Responsibility in the Curriculum competition. The aim is for Humanities students to be encouraged to think how their enthusiasm for their subject can communicate, connect or be relevant beyond the immediate demands of their course.
Each issue we will be featuring a project which has benefited from the competition. This issue, we introduce you to Dr Noemi Sinkovics’ project, raising awareness of the importance of integrating social responsibility to businesses.
Dr Noemi Sinkovics, from the Alliance Manchester Business School (Alliance MBS), is running the module ‘Fundamentals of International Business’. The course adopts a new approach to international business and shows how social responsibility should be integrated into the DNA of a company’s business model rather than as an add-on activity.
The Fundamentals of International Business course unit ran during semester one and sought to give students a 360 degree learning experience. It used the board game Perspectivity to demonstrate sustainability and ethical issues in international supply chains, environmental issues in geographically dispersed production networks, and the importance of systems thinking. The game also highlighted the difference between how students think they will behave in a situation, and how they actually behave. The module also saw Paul Monaghan, winner of Global CEO’s ‘Top 100 CSR Leaders’ poll and Director of ‘Up the Ethics’, deliver a guest lecture on the rise of social enterprise. Furthermore, students were required to identify a contemporary ethical or sustainability-related problem from the ethical consumer magazine, and work out solutions in a consulting report. Rob Harrison, Director and Consultancy Manager at the Ethical Consumer, participated in the presentations and offered valuable feedback from an ethical consultant’s point of view. Topics addressed by the students included human rights issues in clothing supply chains, the VW emissions scandal, and child labour in the cocoa supply chain.
These course helped students see beyond the profit motive and become aware of the importance of integrating social responsibility into business practices.
Noemi commented: “I am very grateful for this funding. It allowed me to experiment with new ways to implement problem-based learning in my classroom. In previous years, students did not see the connection between the ethics and social responsibility unit in the course and their assignment. Despite my efforts, they perceived corporations’ social responsibility measures and management issues as separate and rather unrelated activities. This year, the purchase of the Ethical Consumer magazine and the access of the website resources facilitated the process of raising students’ awareness about the wider systemic implications of corporations’ irresponsible behaviour and/or their negligence of social and sustainability issues. By bringing in practitioners from the field to give guest lectures and read and comment on students’ work, our students did not only have the opportunity to interact with professionals but were also further sensitised to the relevance and seriousness of the societal and environmental issues addressed in the course.”