Ethics, responsibility and sustainability (ERS) are part of the core values of the School and at the heart of its teaching – and also of its research and services to the community. The five values of the School that are implicitly or explicitly related to ERS include: societal relevance, democratic governance, free inquiry, entrepreneurial spirit and equal opportunity.
The SBS-EM’s mission is to “have a decisive and positive impact on how economic and business challenges are addressed. With a strong emphasis on quantitative methods, we produce pioneering research and educate women and men to become true leaders and entrepreneurs in their field.” Entrepreneurship is indeed the only way to maintain a degree of sustainability in the economy.
In teaching, the SBS-EM’s ERS policy is based on four broad pillars: developing its core values among all degree students; offering ERScentric courses and programmes; securing affordable programmes to implement its open access policy; and its range of executive programmes at reduced rates in Vietnam where the School has a strong foothold. The School sees itself as a “social ladder” for students from all social backgrounds, which underlies its low-fee policy in Bachelor, Master and state-funded Specialised Master degrees.
The School aims to foster the social responsibility of the future leaders it educates and contribute to more sustainable business practices and governance. This is achieved mostly through the considerable importance that the School places on issues of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainable development in all its programmes. But all this begins with the School’s policy of equal opportunity and open accessibility. “Being part of a University built on the fundamental value of “free inquiry”, the School promotes democratic and humanistic values, which drive its corporate social responsibility”, insists Dean Bruno van Pottelsberghe.
How ERS is taught at the School
The ERS-centric teaching at the School is both transversal and vertical. Programmes on ERS Several of the School’s programmes have a clear focus on ethics, responsibility and sustainability.
– Master’s in Management Science: sustainable business and ethical management practices constitute a central pillar of this Master’s programme, with compulsory courses in Ethics and Sustainable Development and elective courses and field projects in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Sustainable Development and Non-profit Management.
– European Microfinance Programme: designed in collaboration with professionals from the microfinance sector, its aim is to educate future managers of microfinance-related institutions all over the world. In this way, the EMP wishes to foster the creation of fair and efficient financial institutions to advance economic development and to fight against poverty.
– Management and Philosophy: this Executive Certificate brings together top executives from the industry who are trained and debate on contemporaneous philosophical, ethical and CSR issues. They leverage these learnings in their day-to-day leadership roles.
ERS in degree programmes
In addition to the contextual teaching of ERS within mainstream courses, over the past decade the School has developed a whole portfolio of courses specifically dedicated to ERS issues. Many of these courses have been developed thanks to funded chairs with an ERS focus (the Leo Goldschmidt Chair of Corporate Governance, the Daniel Janssen Family Chair of Mindful Leadership and Corporate Social Responsibility, the Alain and Marie Philippson Chair in Management for Sustainable Development, etc).
These chairs support teaching and research activities on the above topics. Courses specifically related to these topics are offered throughout the School’s programmes (these include: Critical Studies of Business in Society; Microfinance: Theory and Practice, Relations between Europe and countries in the South; Seminar on the Management of Employment and Labour in Development Strategies; Topics in International Trade and Sustainable Development; Multiculturalism in Europe; and
Corporate Social Responsibility).
Accuracy and objectivity
As a teaching institution, the School is very much aware of its educational mission. This includes a careful consideration of the values that it promotes as they will affect the future ethics and responsibility of its graduates. Throughout its degree programmes, the School nurtures its core values, including the four listed above. “This dimension is pervasive throughout our programmes, explains Dean Bruno van Pottelsberghe. Professors challenge their students to seek accuracy and objectivity in their papers, assignments and exams. They invite students to question the social implications of business and economic decisions and they open their eyes to societal and environmental challenges.” Since 2014, the School has added entries in its course catalogue specifically to indicate whether ethics and CSR are explicitly discussed within the focal course and whether it contributes to developing a critical mindset. This has made it possible to quantify the degree of penetration of these issues in its programmes. The result is that 70% of the courses actively contribute to developing their students’ critical mindset, 37% address CSR explicitly and 23% talk about ethics in their respective fields. “We are aware that these statistics could be improved, recognizes Dean Bruno van Pottelsberghe. Nowadays we encourage everyone to promote these values more systematically in their teachings.”
Equal opportunity and open access
One of the School’s values is “equal opportunity”, which it defines as “providing access to students from all socio-economic backgrounds”. This is the core value that underlies the whole stateenforced fee regime. As a result, the prices of all the School’s state-funded programmes are limited by law to €835. For low-income students, this fee can be further reduced either through State aid or university support. Moreover, disadvantaged students have access to a number of scholarships and can be coached by a support team. More specifically, the main support services offered to needy students in state-funded programmes are the following:
– CUD Scholarships in Microfinance: students of the European Microfinance Programme coming from developing countries may obtain further scholarships (covering their living expenses) thanks to a partnership with a development and collaboration fund (CUD);
– Marie-Christine Adam Foundation: one of Marie-Christine Adam’s most significant contributions to the School is to encourage students to participate fully in the School’s international exchange programme;
– ULB Social Services: this offers the following services to all Bachelor and Master students: financial aid, scholarships, access to information, promotion of social rights, student counselling and guidance. The School’s Open Enrolment privately-funded programmes offer also reduced fees to economically disadvantaged students and NGOs.
Following the spirit of solidarity shown to 2015 migrants, that same year a new initiative was born, aimed at welcoming student refugees. All elements of the Faculty and the ULB collaborated in this. At the start of the last academic year, Didier Viviers, the ULB Chancellor, announced the creation of 10 Khaled al’As-ad postdoctoral chairs, funded from their own budget and aimed at refugee researchers, as well as the opening of a “Welcome Desk” designed to help guide refugee students through the registration process and related issues (accommodation, grants, etc).
A pilot faculty
At the initiative of Professor Pierre-Guillaume Méon, a dedicated unit was also created at the School. “We can be considered to be a pilot faculty. The aim was to ensure that these refugee students received a proper welcome so that they didn’t disappear into the crowd”, Anne Georges, International Relations Coordinator is happy to explain. In practical terms this meant that these young people, forced to flee due to conflicts in the Middle East and Central Africa, had the benefit of individual appointments and a tour of the site. They also all received a welcome pack (with equipment, welcome guide, map of the university, etc). Student sponsors and personal tutors Nine refugee students are registered on bachelor and master programmes at present. Thanks to the mobilisation of different elements of the School, each of them has the benefit of a student sponsor as well as a personal tutor, often the programme director, to whom they can turn with any relevant questions.