Environmental and societal issues at the heart of teaching

LBS Vice Dean Julian Birkinshaw shares his views on how business schools can help tackle the big problems facing society

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“Business schools play an important role in the business world, shaping the world view of the next generation of leaders and sharpening the thinking of top executives and policymakers through their research. So, with the corporate world showing growing concern for sustainability and climate change, it is appropriate to ask: what are business schools doing to contribute to this agenda?”. This is the question that London Business School Vice Dean Professor Julian Birkinshaw answers in a recent article for the Financial Times.

Co-author, alongside Professor Colin Mayer of Saïd Business School, of the report Teaching Purposeful Business in UK Business Schools, published by the British Academy in November 2022, Professor Birkinshaw views putting purpose and problem-solving at the heart of teaching as the key way in which business schools can help tackle the biggest issues facing society. He also highlights the value of experiential learning, which allows students to learn “by applying their knowledge to real-world problems.”

Professor Birkinshaw advocates three key approaches to enable business schools to solve societal problems. There are:

  1. Revisit the assumptions underlying business theory
  2. Make problem-solving the “orienting device” through which students learn
  3. Build greater legitimacy for the sustainability agenda through the collaboration of business and management schools.

You can read about Julian’s thoughts on how business education can become a greater force for good in the business world in the FT or on the LBS website now.