Achieving Sustainable Development Goals: What a Management Faculty Can Do?

Mother earth has never faced a challenge as she is facing it today. The unmindful exploitation of mother nature, use of toxic systems and substances and relegation of our duty towards the mother nature has landed us in a very precarious situation. The negative impact today on mother earth and society is alarmingly high and has the potential to cause devastation to survival ecosystem in future. The earth has been inundated five times before – but all of them are due to massive geo-spatial shifts, extra- terrestrial activities and nature’s decisions to redress the anomalies through disruptive changes. There is a fear that the follow on devastation in future will be due to human race only as no other race has the power and ability to destroy the natural systems and get involved into unmindful exploitation of balances set by mother nature.

Are we handing over a safer, cleaner and sustainable world to the new generation? Have we made the world a safe place through our actions or have increased challenges for our next generation- challenges that are unmanageable even for next few generations? There is a concern to make the planet more sustainable in future. Currently the human race consumes 1.5 times of what mother earth can produce and it is apprehended this unmindful consumption will increase to 5 times of what mother earth can produce by 2050. So a pre-emotive strategy and practice is the call of the day so that we can avoid the uncalled for devastation that may wipe us out of the earth again. I may sound pessimistic in this article but if we can look at the way we consume and dispose of in post consumption scenario, one can realize that we are in a hurry to harm the earth like never before. This un-mindfulness is equipped with ignorance on emerging challenges and absence of opinion leadership among the intellectuals. The management professors should now start working towards achieving the set sustainable development goals as a personal and moral responsibility. What professors can do beyond class room teaching about achieving these sustainable development goals SDGs). It is important for professors to build awareness of sustainability issues among students.

Such kind of recognition and enhanced comprehension about sustainability issues will help management students to make ‘inclusive decisions’ where nature and ecological system can be a part of it and help them in building SDG sensitive decisions and actions through proper evaluation of both short term and long term issues covering all living beings. Professors need to focus on their individual sustainability actions than their research on sustainability. Advanced technologies focusing on sustainable actions can help us in reducing the emanating challenges due to worsening of the sustainable world order. Changes in public policy in developing eco-friendly consumption need to be propagated among students. There is always a tradeoff between increased consumption and eco-friendly technology. There is a growing concern that we need to keep our flying paths clean on sky and on the other there is an unprecedented rise in the demand for air transport. So students in innovation and technology classes need to understand this paradox of balancing the nature and satisfying the human greed.

Is there a need for cultural shift? The answer to this question is a sure ‘Yes”. People need to re-orient their consumption and practice mindful consumption. If the teachers can trigger the changes in the individual consumption pattern, this will lead to transformation in individual behavior. Research suggests that individual actions and decisions are important in matters related to climate change and other environmental and social sustainability issues.

Social learning theories can guide both professors and management students to adopt pro-environmental behavior. Earlier research posits that individuals can learn and acquire new behaviors either by engaging in actual experiences or by directly observing and imitating others actions, social norms are transmitted and can even emerge based on such observations and interactions (Bandura, 1977, Social Learning Theory, General Learning Process). Analysis of adoption of voluntary pro-environmental behavior by employees in the workplace proposes that supervisors are an important source of social norms regarding environmental behavior and the supervisory provision of these norms can lead to the powerful personal norms for such behavior (Lufs, R & Hahn, R (2013), European Management Review). This opens a research opportunity on faculty modelling of personal sustainability behavior and their impact on management students change in behavior towards sustainable practices.

Faculty members can have sustainability impact through (1) research, (2) service and (3) teaching. They can create special interest groups (SIGs) and initiate research on sustainability issues and through the research process itself students will be able to learn the consequences of unsustainable behavior.  Many faculties are already engaged with a wide range of their sustainability service responsibilities. They can advise students to be part of many diverse groups like NetImpact and learn pro=environmental behavior. Faculty members can undertake experiential learning activities as part of teaching pedagogy or/and conduct focus group research to present the impactful results of unsustainable practices during their classroom or on field sessions.

The Table-I indicates various ways by which faculty can contribute towards awareness and changes in behavior among students through teaching learning process (Kanasihra et al 2020). Students can also use the sustainability calculator to measure their carbon foot prints

Sustainability Footprint Calculator

There has been a common realization across the globe that sustainability goals cannot be attained just by policy decisions or initiatives taken by organizations and governments. Unless enlightened individuals lead in both thought process and practice and illustrate through their conduct and action- achieving sustainability will be a distant dream only. So any measurement method should focus on human action and signal success of achievement through identifiable actions. Following foot print calculators are available online.

  • Global Foot Print Network ( This platform calculates individual’s ecological and carbon footprints divided by consumption categories like food, shelter, mobility, consumption of physical goods and services.
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency ( This estimates individual carbon footprints by using the USA average values
  • Water Footprint Network ( This calculates individual water foot print for different countries and also personal consumption patterns.
  • Slavery Footprint ( This allows users to input select indices and data about consumer spending patterns which the builds a graphical footprint of users’ participation in modern day slavery.
  • The Carbon Footprint ( This calculates individual carbon footprint for different countries and suggests options for carbon offsetting.

Faculty Contribution to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS)

SDGs Methods to Leverage Personal Sustainability Action for student learning and other Stakeholder Consideration
1.      Poverty
  • Ask students to develop criteria for selecting charities to donate or volunteer for
  • Challenge students to design and implement a campaign by getting inspirations from the website and the U.N. Lazy Person’s Guide to Savings the World
  • Explain the many concepts of poverty in all of its dimensions beyond low income
  • Develop a service learning course or assignment to support a local charity
2.     Zero Hunger
  • Take action with students: find out what is going on in the local community and enlist help to support food banks, homeless shelters and other local charities like Akhaya Patra Foundation
  • Survey how business, government, community organizations and individuals can address potential food scarcity due to climate crisis
  • Develop a Plan to reduce food water waste on campus and donate excess food to local charities
3.      Good Health and Wellbeing
  • Compare challenges and opportunities to achieve universal healthcare services with quality and affordability on a global scale
  • Get involved with students in building a community garden
  • Build healthy activities like heritage walks into course activities
  • Select local healthcare non-governmental organizations as a live case study
4.     Quality Education
  • Evaluate how partnerships, technology and public policies can improve literacy rates in poor countries
  • Plan and execute a textbook donation program
  • Help students start a New Impact Chapter
  • Encourage students to join sustainability  related communities
5.     Gender Equality
  • Ask students to identify gender biases in advertisements, workplace, public speeches
  • Invite students to start or join a social justice or gender equality group, such as UN’s HeforShe Campaign


6.     Clean Water and Sanitation
  • Identify and assess business opportunities for water stewardship,
  • Conduct tours of water supply and water treatment facilities, as a well as a demonstration projects of sustainable water facilities
  • Challenge students to keep a log of their water usage and think of ways that they can conserve water.
7.      Affordable and Clean Energy
  • Design Incentives and opportunities for societies to move away from fossil fuel and towards clean energy
  • Assess policies to include carbon fees and rebates and investments in carbon alternatives
  • Encourage students to calculate their respective personal carbon footprints and develop plans to reduce them
  • Share data about carbon and cost savings from other initiatives
  • Challenge students and alumni to energy efficiency competitions and contests
8.     Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • Develop a micro lending project with students
  • Write case studies with students on women self-help groups
  • Create a B-Corp in partnership with students and support local and state B Corps, Benefit corporations, cooperatives and credit unions including FPOs
  • Assign students to provide career counselling and computer skills to job seekers experiencing homelessness
9.     Industry Innovation and Infrastructure
  • Illustrate how sustainability can be a source of innovation
  • Tour campus and interview facilities management ty assess infrastructure needs, including redesign for a net zero carbon emission
  • Tour both fossil fuel and renewable energy projects in the state
10.   Reduction of Inequities
  • Challenge students to identify stereotypes in their everyday language including TV, radio and newspapers
  • Invest in micro lending projects
  • Write case studies in women empowerment and self help groups
  • Identify and design business solutions that improve equality in ll of its dimensions
11.    Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • Ask students to work on a project by imagining a city in 2050- how can technology be leveraged and resources be shared to accommodate the fact that 70% of the global population will live in urban cities
  • Help students view campus of the future as a community and become involved in campus sustainability projects
  • Challenge students to seek out or start a local sustainability behavior group
12.   Responsible Consumption and Production
  • During natural calamity days organize clothing, household items and packaged food collection
  • Challenge student clubs to organize zero waste events
  • Assess opportunities to improve campus recycling menus, vending and food markets
  • Write and submit letters to the editor encouraging more responsible consumption
13.    Climate Action
  • Assign students to collect and rate best apps related to the climate action
  • Collect and monitor sustainability indicators on campus
  • Promote a student competition to reward innovative projects that promote climate action on campus
  • Start a Campus Neighborhood Global Action Project for Student Groups
  • Participate in Climate strike efforts
14.   Life Below Water
  • Predict how over fishing, acidification of oceans and other forms of marine pollution can bring in significant challenges to several supply chains and disrupt our lives
  • Conduct a project on Ocean plastic and their impact on the marine population
  • Apply a simulation game (e.g Fishing for the Future) so students can experience the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ concept and elaborate action project ideas to explore sustainable fishing practices
  • Organize competitions on protection of Olive Ridley Turtles and challenges in the coasts of Odisha
15.    Life on Land
  • Encourage students to use their electronic devices to complete assignments and do not request hard copies from students
  • Host a session on a park nearby to explore the local biodiversity
  • Assess business risks and opportunities associated with deforestation, desertification and decreasing productivity of the land
16.   Peace, Justice and Strong Institution
  • Ask students to investigate a case of corporate human rights violation, identify the suggested action to prevent and stop it.
  • Organize and advocacy campaign where students send letters  and call local representatives to show support for fight against violence
  • Ask students to speak up and act if they witness in person or online bullying.
17.    Partnership for the Goals
  • Connect with stakeholders in other schools and colleges and le students take up thought leadership on sustainability action
  • Invite students to participate in local events related to sustainability
  • Invite students to join the #littlexlittle campaign which aims to gather 2 billion between the age group of 15-24 olds to engage in small acts that would represent the largest collection of positive acts assembled
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1 Comment
  1. Rituparna says

    Management education plays a pivotal role in shaping future leaders who can turn the tide towards sustainability. The integration of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into the curriculum is a commendable step, fostering a generation that is conscious of its responsibilities towards our planet. Kudos to the educators for their foresight and commitment to this cause!

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