Kiyo Akasaka spoke at the U.N.’s PRME initiative, held at Fordham’s Lincon Center campus. Photo by Chris Taggart

Representatives from academic business schools around the world gathered on June 23 at Fordham to support the first United Nations-sponsored initiative to promote social responsibility in business.

At a daylong conference, the “Second Global Forum for Responsible Management Education,” some 200 leaders discussed how management education might best develop and promote responsible international corporate leadership. Among the talking points from the day’s plenary sessions were:

— Does the economic and financial crisis make sustainability a necessary strategy in developing corporate operations?
— What are the gaps in today’s business education?
— What characteristics make a corporation a global leader that is both an economic developer and a social steward.

The conference was sponsored by Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), the 2007 initiative between the U.N. and international business schools to incorporate universal values into the schools’ curricula and research. More than 300 business schools from 62 nations have already adopted the PRME.

The conference participants set a goal of seeing PRME adopted by 700 additional business schools by 2015.

“The time has come for scholarship to match the move toward corporate social responsibility,” said Kiyo Akasaka, U.N. under-secretary general for communications and public information, delivering the keynote at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus. “Peace and security, sustainable development, and the protection of human rights for all depend on our ability to collectively address these issues that affect the lives of ordinary men, women and children.”

Akasaka said that educators are responsible for shaping the “mindsets of future business leaders” and for acting as advocates for a new era of sustainability in business.

In his talk, Akasaka drew particular attention to Fordham’s partnership with the U.N. on such issues as the preservation of biodiversity, the protection of human rights and its efforts to alleviate world poverty.

“This great institution has a noble history of inspiring its young men and women to a life of service,” he said.

Donna Rapaccioli, Ph.D., dean of Fordham’s Business Faculty and College of Business Administration, said the University had engaged Fordham business faculty in developing lasting research and curriculum changes that re-enforce the principles of PRME.

“Promoting responsible management education is part of our university’s overall mission of educating competent, compassionate leaders dedicated to the cause of the human family,” said Rapaccioli.

The Fordham-based event was a prelude to the U.N.’s Global Compact Leaders 2010 Summit, held June 24-25 in New York City. The historic summit attracted 1,500 leaders from business, civil society, labor, finance, government and academia to collectively address the 21st century’s most pressing global challenges.


Janet Sassi is editor/associate director of internal communications. She can be reached at (212) 636-7577 or [email protected]