A bridge between academia, civil society, local communities
The UNESCO Chair on Art and Science for Sustainable Development Goals at the ICN Business School was conceived as a think-and-do tank about sustainable organizing, focused on the integration of natural and social sciences into the arts and humanities. Acting as a bridge between academia, civil society, local communities, research and policy-making, it aims at implementing concrete local solutions for global sustainable development goals. The Chair is a network comprised of faculty members from the ICN Business School, University of Lorraine (CEREFIGE) and several foreign universities. It encourages regional cooperation on implementation of SDGs, particularly through North-South collaborations that address inequalities in the francophone world, and their manifestations in France.
In September 2015, global leaders, the United Nations, and business leaders reached a historic consensus to pursue Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), called the UN Agenda 2030. The 17 goals cover a progressive universal vision of eliminating poverty and hunger, providing food, water and energy, promoting gender and economic equality, ensuring education for all, sustainable consumption and production, innovation and infrastructures for livable cities, protecting natural assets on land and below water, reducing inequality and leaving no one behind (current and future generations). This ambitious and comprehensive agenda is to be accomplished by 2030. It has already started to guide the development of economies and trade alliances around the world. Yet much remains to be done. Significant research is needed to implement the SDGs integrating the sciences, arts, humanities, and traditional or different systems of knowledge.
Holistic Sustainable Development
The vision of the ICN UNESCO Chair is to engage in holistic sustainable development. The 17 goals are not independent siloes, instead they are deeply interconnected. These interdependencies imply synergies and tradeoffs that must be considered in the implementation process. Another dimension of holism is the integration of multiple forms of knowledge including the natural sciences, social sciences, the arts, humanities, and faith-based knowledge systems. Our vision is also universal in scope. That means sustainability needs to include all peoples and all forms of nature, across economic, national, religious, ethnic and other cultural boundaries at a planetary scale. Such inclusiveness calls for a change in mindsets and the reconsideration of our social and organizational models and theories.
The purpose of the ICN UNESCO Chair is to prepare and promote change by systematically researching and introducing the imaginary, symbolic and aesthetic dimension into functional rationalities, in order to enrich decision-making processes among policy makers.
The Chair aspires to go beyond research to create practical solutions that will help people and organizations transform their lives towards sustainability. Global SDGs need to be understood, translated and implemented both in developing and developed countries to ensure the sustainable evolution of Planet Earth to support life for 10 billion people by 2050. France, as a signatory to the SDGs, needs to articulate the goals at the national, regional (Lorraine), city (Nancy) and local (communities and businesses) levels of analysis, as well as at the individual level (students, staff, faculty).
We believe that the ICN UNESCO Chair can be a platform for ICN to self-examine all aspects of its operation to ensure alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainability can be made an integral part of the curriculum, research, design of student activities, outreach to local communities and companies, and international cross-partnerships. ICN examines its own operational ecofootprint in terms of water and energy consumption, waste management and recycling, the health and wellbeing of employees, partners and users, and buildings and infrastructures and then uses it to extract ecoefficiencies.
The SDGs offer major opportunities for curricular innovation. The goal should be 100% literacy on sustainability, in other words, making all ICN students, faculty and staff aware of the basic concept of sustainable living in a climate-altered world and of the subsequent changes needed in social and organizational models and mindsets. This may require a combination of strategies, such as including short sustainability modules in existing courses, developing student projects focused on the SDGs, offering new courses on sustainability, and developing immersive experiences around sustainability goals, etc.
The UNESCO Chair is operationalized through a number of research projects led by different faculties and focused on different Sustainable Development Goals. These are summarized in the table below.
Table 1: ICN UNESCO Chair Project-SDG Map
The UNESCO Chair will examine North-South connections to sustainability through ICN’s Early Growth Acceleration Initiative (EGAI). EGAI is an action-research group focused on understanding entrepreneurial firms’ early growth process and performance and creating usable knowledge for entrepreneurs. Since 2015, EGAI has extended its mission to include African entrepreneurship initiatives in collaboration with SAM (“Africa Management Society”).
Partnering and Collaboration
Partnering and collaboration are Sustainable Development Goal #17. This goal sets out the ways of working towards sustainability. It is well accepted that the task of implementing SDGs on a planetary sale is so huge that no single entity can achieve it. In line with this ethos, the ICN UNESCO Chair works in partnership with other UNESCO/UNTWIN chairs and other sustainability networks, such as Future Earth, Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Network for Education and Research in Peace and Sustainability, and the European SPES Forum, among others.
At the local level, the UNESCO Chair aspires to work with local government offices, corporations and artists and scientists, to address local municipal (Nancy, Metz) and regional (Lorraine) level challenges in implementing SDGs. We view local companies as a particularly valuable collaboration resource in our transdisciplinary endeavors. We seek to produce stakeholder-engaged scholarship and research that will have a meaningful impact on the real world.
Dr. Paul Shrivastava is Chief Sustainability Officer at The Pennsylvania State University, Director of the Sustainability Institute, and a Professor of Management. He leads the UNESCO Chair on Art and Science for Implementing Sustainable Development Goals at ICN Business School, Nancy, France. In addition, he is a Member of the Club of Rome.
Prior to this, he was the founding Executive Director of Future Earth, a global research platform for global environmental change and transformation to sustainability. Previously, Paul was the David O’Brien Distinguished Professor at the David O’Brian Center for Sustainable Enterprise at Concordia University, Montreal. He acts as an advisor to the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Kyoto, the Network for Education and Research on Peace and Sustainability at Hiroshima University, and The Arts Alliance of Research Universities. He has published 18 books and over 130 articles in refereed and professional journals.
Some Sample Publications
- Shrivastava, P., E. G. Schumacher, D. M. Wasieleski, and M. Tasic, “Aesthetic Rationality for Sustainability Decision-Making: Exploring Cognitive and Emotional Factors of an Aesthetics Process”, the Journal of Applied Behavioral Sciences, March 2017.
- Shrivastava, P. and N. Guimaraes-Costa, “Achieving Environmental Sustainability: The case for Multi-layered Collaboration across Disciplines and Players”, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, March 2017. Vol 116, pp 340-346. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2016.11.019 Printed http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0040162516307119#af0005
- Shrivastava, P. and S. Persson, “Silent Transformation to 1.50C – China’s Encumbered Lead”, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, accepted November 2017.
- Ivanaj, V., P. Shrivastava, S. Ivanaj, “The Value of Beauty in Organizations, The Journal of Cleaner Production, 2018, April. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.04.122
- Shrivastava, P., Zolnai, L., Wasieleski, D., Stafford-Smith, M., Walker, T., Weber, M., Krosinsky, C., Oram, D.” Finance and Management for the Anthropocene”, Organizations and the Natural Environment, 2019, Vol. 32 (1) 26–40.
- Alnes, K., Shrivastava, P. J. Sillman, O. Weber, L. Zsolnai, “Making money work for green goals”, Our Future on Earth Report: Science Insights into our Planet and Society, Future Earth, 2020.
- Eberhardt-Todt, E., Elisabeth P., Qi, J. “Chinese bank managers’ perceptions of barriers to the implementation of green credit in corporate loan decision-making”. Post-Communist Economies, 2020.
- Eberhardt-Todt, E., Elisabeth P., Qi, J. ”Bank managers’ perceived importance of corporate environmental management in lending decisions: investigating institutional motivational factors”. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management (2021)