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5 minutes on responsibility? I don’t think it’s enough!

"The planet is dependent on action today. CBS could become a role model for other universities and business schools and attract even more engaged students," writes a CBS student in this opinion piece. Why not devote a mandatory module of 5 ECTS purely to “sustainability and responsibility?", he asks.

Opinion |   29. Nov 2018

Written by: Jens Henning Breivik, Student, MSc International Business and Politics

I vaguely recall Responsibility Day when thinking back on my first week at CBS. A week where the main focus naturally is on getting to know your new class mates, trying to navigate between the multiple campuses and doing your best to show up on time to the next scheduled activity. All that in a new city, and for many even in a new country.

I do remember that Responsibility Day consisted of long queues, and barely being able to hear what was said on the stage. This was back in 2014, and I will (hopefully) graduate in 2020. Within those years Responsibility Day is the single “mandatory” event where I as a student am obliged to learn about social responsibility at CBS.

By looking at the programme of Responsibility Day 2018 the following slot was devoted solely to the topic: “10.10 – 10.15 Presentation on academic responsibility”. Personally, I do not think that is enough.

When considering social responsibility, especially two topics have been reoccurring the last few months: climate change and financial market institutions. There have been multiple events which should be wake-up calls for most of us: within climate change we have seen an abnormally warm summer, subsequent enormous forest fires in Scandinavia and continental Europe, and later the “crown jewel”: the report from the UN Panel on Climate Change in October warning about how critical the current situation is.

Regarding the financial market institutions and their practices we have “celebrated” the ten-year anniversary of the Lehman Brothers-bankruptcy and been witness to the DanskeBank-nightmare. CBS students constitute a large number of future private sector actors in Denmark and abroad, and the importance of students graduating with a responsible ethical compass and a sustainable mind-set cannot be underestimated.

In this context I want to side with CBS professor Per H. Hansen who in Weekendavisen’s issue from November 23rd under the title Ceteris paribus argues that there is more to business conduct than the financial bottom line. Politics, culture, history and morale should not be left out in the equation.

He emphasizes the important role of business schools and universities to raise awareness among its students on these topics. CBS offers relevant courses in many of its study programmes; it has recently reintroduced the department cbsCSR (under the name CBS Sustainability); and numerous electives on the topics discussed here are offered.

However, there might be a great number of other interesting courses that compete about the student’s time and priorities. Not to mention, many students go on exchange, leaving the option of electives at CBS out completely. One could additionally argue that students that actively seek courses within such topics already are among the most informed.

I urge the Academic Council and the Board of Directors to put business ethics and sustainability higher on the academic agenda. It should get a central position in every student’s curriculum during their studies at CBS, so that students can create both value and values (description of Responsibility Day 2018).

The planet is dependent on action today; CBS could become a role model for other universities and business schools and attract even more engaged students.

At Leuphana University in Lueneburg, Germany – a university with large emphasis on sustainability – the first semester, the Leuphana Semester, devotes a mandatory module of 5 ECTS purely to “sustainability and responsibility”.

Can CBS beat that?


  1. Hadler says:

    Amen! Don’t give up on this.

  2. Lavinia says:

    I fully support bringing sustainability and responsible management more into focus and into core activities. However, while I agree that everyone in higher education should be made aware of the social and environmental challenges we face, getting sustainability and responsibility out of context might not help… it might just seem as an add on or just an external subject. We need to approach sustainability from within the economics, accounting, marketing, organization management courses… we need great teachers and researchers from those fields to take this matter upon themselves and start looking into what sustainability and responsibility means from that perspective! And I am pleased to say that at CBS, we are lucky enough to have such professors to work with!

    Also, as a side note, in the article it is said that CBS “recently reintroduced the department cbsCSR (under the name CBS Sustainability)”…. the cbsCSR/CBS Sustainability centre is part of the Management, Society and Communication research centre and its activity were never interrupted, it just recently changed its name into CBS Sustainability.

  3. Severin says:

    Very good

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