7th PRME Asia Forum in Hong Kong

7th PRME Asia Forum
Hong Kong – 
6,7th June 2016

Malaysia's Representatives to PRME, Prof Kuperan and ET Tan.

Malaysia’s Representatives to PRME, Prof Kuperan from UUM and ET Tan from PBS.

The 7th PRME Asia Forum was held over 2 days in Hong Kong attended by over 200 participants from 70 business schools in 11 countries around Asia including Finland, Israel, Nepal and USA.

This annual event is a United Nations supported initiative and led by its representative, the Head of UN-PRME, Mr Jonas Heartle.

Key Discussion Points

Over 30 speakers presented and discussed a very wide range of topics ranging from mechanisms for engaging research on the 17 UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), how higher education can engage various stakeholders to create sustainable change, methodologies for engaging mind-sets of business and policy makers, good practices and issues with sustainability and so on.

The Plenary Meeting of PRME Asia Forum held in Hong Kong 6,7th July 2016

The Plenary Meeting of PRME Asia Forum held in Hong Kong 6,7th July 2016

We had representatives from government, industry, start-ups and NGOs such as BDO, The Economist Group, CLP, Green Monday and Fair Trade leading discussions on Floating Farms, Service Learning, Urban Renewal, Circular Economy and impact of Ship Emissions on GHG (Greenhouse Gases).

Among the things we learned was the realisation that around the world, buildings use 40% of global energy, 25% of water, 60% of the electricity and emit 33% of greenhouse gases.

We heard that we need to have ANTI-DISCIPLINARY ways of looking at problems because people naturally gravitate to their own (often single) discipline and hence come up with solutions that are restricted only from their own fields of study.

The UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for the world

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for the world

We were warned by educators that the way we teach today need to change because due to  the internet and explosion of information, knowledge is in a constant state of renewal; that compartmentalising education into disciplines and focus on ‘career paths’ will not provide the thinking needed to address today’s problems.  Active learning, critical thinking and self discovery now need to be practiced more than ever.  Young people are naturally curious and need to be nurtured properly to prepare them for the future.  To quote a famous saying: today’s problems cannot be solved by yesterday’s thinking.

We also challenged each other on how to balance between promoting entrepreneurial thinking and putting in place strong processes, policies and more regulations.  Maintaining a culture of flexibility and focus on well-being is the key to allow innovation while regulations and KPIs are needed to ensure focus is maintained.  We convinced ourselves that we have little  choice but to find a way to “run as fast as we can without slipping and falling”.

ASEAN+ Chapter Meets

The ASEAN+ Chapter of PRME Asia took the opportunity to meet and do some planning.  Representatives from business schools in Thailand, Malaysia and Philippines were joined by colleagues from India to share and discuss what we can do to promote responsible management education in our respective countries and collaboratively in the region.  We were disappointed Indonesia was not able to make it due to the Eid holidays.

The meeting of PRME ASEAN+ Chapter members representing Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and joined by India reps.

The meeting of PRME ASEAN+ Chapter members representing Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and joined by India reps.

Our counterparts in Philippines, represented by De Lasalle University and supported by Letran Calambra, reported that they have been promoting Action  Research (AR) as a methodology to help students and academics understand more deeply in order to bring to the surface what are the root issues of problems.  This in-depth probing allows a better understanding of why issues arise and so will enable the deployment of better and more relevant solutions for the situation.  They also relate to using AR as a methodology to develop better case studies because researchers are able to get to the inherent difficulties faced by the protagonists in the cases.  This, they report, greatly enhances the cases for study.

The 13 regional PRME chapters, including the three recently formed ones in red.

The 13 regional PRME chapters, including the three recently formed ones in red.

Thailand was represented by Chiang Mei University and Sasin Graduate School of Business.  They intend to adopt the program developed by Babson College called Giving Voice to Values (GVV) into Thai language in order to give their students better tools to express their values.  This technique was previously presented in a workshop at the 6th PRME Asia Forum in Goa by the founder, Mary Gentile.  Asian culture traditionally discourages expression of opinions particularly if they are in conflict with the norm or those in authority – and therefore can perpetuate wrongness and false truths.  Students trained in the GVV will be able to voice their values in a safe and proper manner, even if this does not initially create visible change. At least what is important is that values are voiced and seeded – and in time, able to germinate appropriately.

Prof Kuperan Viswanathan of OYA-GSB at UUM, as the ASEAN+ Chapter overall coordinator, represented Malaysia to report on activities at the Malaysian Chapter.  Accompanied by ET Tan (Suleyman) of Putra Business School (PBS), he reported that the Malaysian Chapter, comprising of representatives from 13 business schools, had met a couple of times already to share projects and issues; and discussed what it means to focus on Business sustainability and  human well-being and the idea of Human Governance.

A PRME ASEAN+ Chapter facebook page has also been created for members to discuss and exchange views and PBS had created a community website to facilitate sharing of information and learnings among members.

In addition, Malaysian members had agreed that business schools must take a more active stance to create change in the way students are taught in business schools and universities, and to permit a more interactive and participative involvement from industry.  To this end, members supported the idea of the Malaysian business schools  taking the lead to open discussions with the Malaysian Ministry of Education and its related accreditation body, MQA, to look into adapting the curriculum of the business programs at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels to reflect the needs for responsible business education and focus on sustainability and human governance for the future of a sustainable planet and to promote the achievements of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. PBS has agreed to lead this initiative.

ASEAN+ Chapter Conclusions

The representatives of the ASEAN+ Chapter discussed and concluded:

Delegate from Thailand, A.Prof Sivimut meets Prof Kuperan Viswanathan

Rep from Thailand, A.Prof Sivimut meets Prof Kuperan Viswanathan

  1. We will support Indonesia to host the 8th PRME Asia Forum that is expected to be held in the second half of 2017. As there were no representatives present at this Forum, the Head of PRME will confirm this in the coming few weeks.
  2. Chiang Mei University volunteered to host in 2017 should Indonesia decline.
  3. Chiang Mei University proposed organising a Symposium to encourage more interactions between member institutions in ASEAN by providing a forum for academics to present papers. They suggest the Symposium to be in Chiang Mei in Nov 2016.  Details to be provided in due course.
  4. We discussed some of the focus areas (see above) for each institution and country; and agreed that we can definitely learn from each other by visiting each other to share more of our plans.
  5. We agreed to do more collaboration between countries. This can be done simply by visiting each other’s universities and conducting workshops and seminars about our areas. The Philippines business schools initiated the process by inviting PBS to present about Human Governance since they have also heard about it in the 6th PRME Asia Forum in Goa.  Chiang Mei University proposed the idea of Symposium (see earlier item).
  6. The OYAGSB will lead in providing case studies reflecting the practice of PRME principles in Malaysian business utilizing the teaching and research outputs from the Doctoral in Business Administration program.
  7. PBS offered and we agreed to use their Malaysian Chapter Community Website as the ASEAN Community Website to share and keep in touch with all members in ASEAN; and asked PBS to denote it as such. The link is here.

In all, this was a very interactive and productive Chapter discussion with several concrete actions to be taken.

In Closing

The 7th PRME Asia Forum closed with Jonas Heartle thanking everyone for their active participation and in particular, to students and staff at HongKong Polytechnic University together with Hang Seng Management College for their tireless organisation of the event.

He will send details of the 8th PRME Asia Forum once he has spoken with the Indonesia representatives.

PRME representatives with Head of UN-PRME, Jonas Heartle. From left, Prof Shirley Leung, Prof Benito Teehankee, Jonas Heartle, Prof Kuperan Viswanathan, ET Tan

PRME representatives with Head of UN-PRME, Jonas Heartle. From left, Prof Shirley Leung, Prof Benito Teehankee, Jonas Heartle, Prof Kuperan Viswanathan, ET Tan

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Passionate about the need to be human in business, inside and out, and relentlessly focusing on the needs of what it means to do the “right” thing. Been there and done that, now balik kampung to share the experience.

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