In France and other parts of Europe, the teaching of Ecological Responsibility finds its letters of nobility in higher education in management as companies appropriate CSR issues, as states strengthen societal and environmental legislation and as the aspiration of students to become actors of the ecological transition and to give meaning to their careers increases. This evolution is also a reaction to the criticisms leveled at the ethics of the teachings provided and the values disseminated in schools of management after the 2008 financial crisis. Beyond teaching, it is, therefore, the social role of Business and Management Schools that have evolved in recent years to reconnect the economy with society. It has become common for schools of management to include the objectives of training responsible managers and producing a positive societal impact in their core mission.
By Dr. Hicha Sebti
Euromed Business School
The new ranking of “schools to change the world” is one of the visible manifestations of this transformation.
What about emerging countries like Morocco?
The country has clearly embarked on an ecological transition marked by first wins. The energy transition and decarbonization is a major pillar of the New Development Model (NMD) that aims to make the Moroccan energy supply one of the components of its economic attractiveness. Morocco has launched the largest concentrated solar power plant in the world located 10km north-east of the city of Ouarzazate. The Kingdom seeks to achieve the objectives of the National Energy Strategy, after having revised upwards its ambition in terms of renewable energy, exceeding the current target of 52% of the national electricity mix by 2030. At the organizational level, the General Confederation of Moroccan Companies has developed a labelling process to encourage companies to adopt CSR practices.
However, the commitment to ecological and societal transformation remains generally timid in the curricula and strategies of business and management schools. The pressure of companies and citizen-students on management schools to transform their programs is much less than in Europe and lagging behind the real progress of the country in terms of strategies and infrastructures of the ecological transition.
The perceptible consequence is that the middle management trained in most schools is poorly aware and ill-equipped to meet the challenges of the ecological transition.
However, some schools are more proactively engaging in ecological and societal transformation and the preparation of a new generation of responsible leaders. This is the meaning of our ecological commitment at the Euromed Business School of Fez.
The context of a University committed to the ecological transition
The Euromed University of Fez is a young University founded in 2014 from a royal initiative and the support of the European Union and the Union for the Mediterranean. It is structured in three divisions: engineering, humanities (including the business school), and health schools. The ecological and societal transition is in a certain way in the DNA of the University: its campus has been designed and labelled “Eco-Campus”, the University has adopted a strategy to contribute to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and a multitude of actions and training are focused on ecological and societal issues. Thanks to these efforts, the University has obtained the Francophone Label for Responsible Innovation, issued by the Agence Universitaire Francophone (AUF).
To translate this orientation into the training of students, the University has defined a profile of the future laureate. This profile is materialized by the “7 transversal pillars”: Multilingualism, Multiculturalism, Entrepreneurship, Sustainable Development, Mobility, Digital Environment, and Social Responsibility.
The Business School: Training a new generation of responsible leaders and entrepreneurs
The Euromed Business School was founded in 2017 in an institutional environment conducive to sustainable development and ecological transition issues. The school’s leadership had to define the way teach sustainable management practices.
Indeed, if schools and management teachers know how to teach theories and techniques of management, training in responsibility, citizenship, ecological commitment is a more delicate task. Unlike the training of a management accountant, a marketing manager or an HR manager, we do not have a clearly defined framework of concepts and skills to train a responsible manager and commit to the ecological transition.
Schools and teachers engaged in this approach are forced to (re)invent, to tinker both purposes and pedagogical approaches of their teachings.
At Euromed Business School, we have chosen to rely on the entrepreneurial pedagogy approach to train responsible managers. This pedagogy is articulated in 3 dimensions: Inform, Educate and Engage, with the objective to raise awareness of societal and ecological issues and develop skills and behaviors for sustainable actions.
Inform (promoting early awareness)
Numerous reports from government and independent bodies highlight the low involvement of Moroccan youth in citizen action. The same goes for the commitment to “grand societal challenges” and ecological transition.
Our first commitment is to raise students’ awareness of environmental, ecological, and sustainable development issues. The aim is to prompt them not only to become eco-conscious and aware of existing ecological challenges, and the consequences in the short, medium, and long run, but also that solutions do exist at the local and global levels. It is also about making them aware that solutions come from their daily actions and choices, and getting them to think about their own practices.
Awareness of the challenges of the ecological transition is done very early in the students’ curriculum. Thus, the integration seminar for undergraduate students include workshop on “climate fresk” based on a collaborative serious play where students analyze the mechanisms of climate change as explained in the IPCC . Students are asked to express their feelings and discuss individual or collective solutions to be put in place to fight climate change. In the same way, the engagement of Master degree students is encouraged through a 2-day workshop focused on the ecological transition within the university campus. Students are asked to analyze the ecological problems of the campus, and then identify realistic and applicable short-term solutions to these problems.
Educate (developing right competences for ecological transition)
Management is a science of decision and action. Our mission is to reinforce students with the concepts and tools to understand, decide and act by integrating ecology and sustainability into their analysis grid and their thought pattern.
First, the students’ training curricula includes teaching modules specifically dedicated to issues of Sustainable Development, Corporate Social Responsibility, Circular Economy, Green Manufacturing, Green Marketing, Sustainable Purchasing, etc.
Secondly, non-specific teachings integrate the issues related to climate and ecological transition. It becomes inconceivable to teach Financial Management without questioning the consequences of financial indicators on investment choices and the internalization of ecological costs in the evaluation criteria. It becomes absurd to teach Strategic Management or Supply Chain without integrating the ecological impact of the organization of companies’ value chains, etc. The ecological and sustainable dimension is thus essential in all disciplines.
Engage (from theory to practice)
Beyond understanding the challenges of the ecological transition, it seemed essential to make students experiment action for sustainable and ecological transition. We thus engage students in field actions focused on the issues of sustainability and ecological transformation of their environment. Students in undergraduate programs must undertake a Social, Environmental and Sustainable Impact Project that produces positive effects on the socio-economic environment.
Students of the Master degree participate each year in a Hackathon aimed at responding to the ecological problem of a company. They must also carry out a Strategic and Organizational Consulting mission with a company, integrating the CSR dimension.
Apart from actively engaging students in activities that promote better ecological practices and teaching them these concepts across several stages in their career as evident in our curriculum, the business school as a responsible native in an eco-campus is open to incubating and developing research ideas on responsible business for business strategies redefinition and research-based construct development for ecological transition in business organizations and policymakers
Through the approach deployed, we aim to transform the mental reflexes of students and make the ecological question a central matrix of thought and action as a future manager. In the same way that a business school student spontaneously questions the profitability of an action, he/she must be able to question its sustainability.