Our Journey Towards Sustainability at the TUM School of Management
We are striving towards a sustainable future through responsible management education. As a PRME signatory, the TUM School of Management is part of a global movement bringing educational sustainability to over 800 business and management schools around the globe. In the past few weeks, we introduced our latest PRME report and our newly established PRME Office on our website. Following up, we asked Holder of the Chair of Corporate Sustainability and PRME Sustainability Manager, Prof. Dr. Belz, to reflect on our journey towards sustainability at TUM:
Prof. Dr. Belz, you have been teaching at TUM for 18 years now – how would you describe your own journey towards sustainability at the university?
PROF. DR. BELZ: In the first couple of years after my appointment in 2003, I was considered “Mr. Sustainability” at TUM School of Management. Back then, sustainability was compartmentalized to a certain extent. Whenever there was an inquiry relating to responsibility and sustainability, my colleagues at TUM School of Management would pass it on to me. I was happy to fulfill this role. I remember a situation at one of our early retreats for faculty members. Over a beer, one of my colleagues in the finance department said to me – half-jokingly, half-seriously – “You know, Frank, you teach the students ethics, responsibility, and sustainability, while I teach them to get a job, pursue a career and make money.” This two-world view was shattered during the financial and economic crisis of 2008. Many of my colleagues started realizing that the market system, driven by economic growth, was not sustainable in the long run.
How did you start implementing sustainability at TUM School of Management?
PROF. DR. BELZ: Signing the PRME as TUM School of Management was an essential trigger for integrating sustainability into research and teaching. Since the release of the first status report, much has happened here. Our respected Dean started emphasizing the importance of sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals at our regular faculty meetings – including to me. Thanks to his support and that of many other colleagues, sustainability moved to the core of TUM School of Management. And we have since pursued a strategy of institutionalization rather than compartmentalization. Great efforts began to incorporate responsibility and sustainability on all levels of the TUM School of Management.
What do those efforts look like?
PROF. DR. BELZ: At the normative level, mission statements, for example, highlight the management education of ‘responsible talents’. Our Strategy 2021, on the other hand, emphasizes a strong research agenda with implications for major societal challenges. At the operational level, we introduced a new bachelor’s program in Management and Technology, with a focus on renewable resources. And one of the most important and strategic decisions we make is hiring new faculty members. Gender, diversity and sustainability play an important role in these key decisions.
Where does TUM School of Management currently stand on the journey towards sustainability?
PROF. DR. BELZ: This third PRME report shows just how far we have come, from sustainability as a ‘one-man-show’ to sustainability as an integral part of research and teaching across the whole faculty. While we have already achieved much, PRME is rather like an Ironman Triathlon: a 3.8 km swim, a 180 km bicycle ride and a 42.2 km run all in one, calling for great stamina and determination. We at TUM School of Management are committed to PRME. We have already started our Ironman and we are determined to finish it with the help of our team and supporters.
We are looking forward to following and supporting the journey towards sustainability at TUM School of Management.
You can find the complete PRME report here.
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