Tippie becomes first UI college to adopt United Nations sustainability goals

Joining many universities across the world, the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business recently adopted the United Nations sustainability initiative to improve the education of business students in the sustainability field.

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Tate Hildyard

The Tippie College of Business is seen on Monday, January 27th, 2020.

Rachel Schilke, News Reporter


The Tippie College of Business recently became the first University of Iowa college to adopt the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Management Education — a global movement to strengthen sustainability through education.

Tippie joined 650 signatories of the sustainability initiative, alongside fellow Midwestern universities like Illinois State’s College of Business and DePaul, as well as others around the world.

The initiative was launched in 2007 by the United Nations with the purpose of increasing the level of sustainability education in universities to equip business students with economic and environmental skills to change the future, according to its website.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement on the website of the Principles for Responsible Management Education, that the initiative would “…nurture responsible leaders of the future. Never has this task been more important.”

Sustainability has become a significant component of organizations due to consumers expecting businesses to adopt strategies that address sustainability problems, said UI Associate Professor Bodi Vasi.  Joining the Principles for Responsible Management Education initiative will allow Tippie to provide its students with the skills to address those issues in the future and find appropriate solutions, he said.

Tippie has historically been a member of the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, said UI Tippie-Rollins Chair of Excellence Sara Rynes in an email.

In 2015, the Tippie College of Business released the college’s first sustainability report which set its goals of “… curricular coverage of sustainability, sustainability-related extracurricular opportunities, sustainability research, Tippie energy use, and waste reduction,” she said.

Related: New database by the Office of Sustainability bridges the gap between UI researchers and the community

Rynes said that moving from previous membership in the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education to the Principles for Responsible Management Education initiative means that the college will share common goals and language with a wider range of organizations.

The broad structure allows for virtually all Tippie College of Business faculty members and students who are interested in sustainability to participate in the plan, she said.

Currently, Rynes said many students do not know how quickly the environmental problems facing people and the world are escalating.

“We often talk about sustainability as being about saving future generations, but it’s about us — right here, right now,” Rynes said. “Education can give us the urgency to change and inspire new ways forward.”

Adopting the Principles for Responsible Management Education will also increase awareness for previous underrated sustainability initiatives within Tippie College of Business, Rynes said. Some of these are Frontier Coop-Tippie Competition, gold-rated undergraduate Net Impact chapter, and Sustainability Speaker Series, she said.

Tippie has a website for sharing sustainability curriculum materials and experiential learning opportunities. UI Research Support and Sustainability Adjunct Lecturer Sara Maples said that the college would work hard to meet the goals of the Principles for Responsible Management Education, “… identify new opportunities for our research to create sustainable social, environmental and economic value.”

The Tippie College of Business is currently working on an updated sustainability report for Principles for Responsible Management Education that will highlight their progress. The college will also be sending a faculty member to the Principles for Responsible Management Education Northeast Conference to learn more about sustainability and implement it into a core course for all business students.

“Sustainability education is important for business schools because a large number of companies in the U.S. and around the world are recognizing that sustainability is not just a ‘nice to do,’ but a ‘must do,’” Vasi said. “We need to be aware not only about the challenges but also the opportunities related to sustainability.”

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