> A closer look
I have been privileged to chair the Australia and New Zealand Chapter of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) institution for the past two terms, from 2016 to 2021. With a vision to realise the sustainable development goals through responsible management education, over six years my authentic and inclusive leadership increased the collaboration, trust and impact of PRME signatories evidenced in peer feedback; ‘You have been a fantastic leader of the group and overseen the growth and capacity of all members’ (PRME member). My actions include the establishment of a AusNZ Steering Committee, annual forums, state-based working groups, monthly well-being check-ins during COVID lockdowns and the instigation and organisation of an Eastern Hemisphere session as part of the PRME Global Forum in 2020 where students and colleagues from Australia, New Zealand, India, Malaysia, and the Middle East were able to share their scholarly work, network and listen to key speakers in regards to sustainable development at a time-zone favourable to these locations. This was the first time the Eastern Hemisphere time-zone had been considered during a PRME Global Forum. These initiatives continue today and are internationally recognised; ’Belinda, I am so grateful that you make this happen. I am absolutely looking forward to listen to a new ‘push’ from the Eastern Hemisphere on what are the next important milestones for us to aim for’ (Mette Morsing, Head PRME). In this role, I am especially proud of the relationships I built with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Australian Campuses Towards Sustainability (ACTS). Working on a two day virtual forum in 2021 on ‘Accelerating Education for the SDGs across HE institutions’ was the first time our three networks had collaborated. These positive relationships continue with the new AusNZ Chapter Chair.
Dialogue: Outside of PRME, I exemplify my subject expertise at international education dialogues strengthening Australia’s education and training relationship with key stakeholders in the ASEAN region. This includes the ASEAN Australia Education Dialogue (AAED), a track II diplomacy platform, where I was an invited key panellist for ‘Implementing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 2030 in Community and Education Ecosystems’. I was also selected to present a virtual Masterclass in collaboration with the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) India on the ‘What, Why and Who of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals’ as part of the Study Australia Masterclass Series.
Partnerships: I began working with Healthy Cities Illawarra (HCI), a not-for-profit organisation, in 2017 because of a common interest in raising local awareness of the SDGs across our region. Our collaboration led to two successful intersectoral workshops. I organised, presented and was MC for the first workshop in 2017 which saw over 100 cross-sectoral attendees attend ‘Unpacking the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Breakfast’. In conjunction with HCI and a successful research grant of $10,000, I organised a key speaker from the Australian Center for CSR (ACCSR), a cross-sectoral local panel and an engaged Q&A with the Mayors for both Wollongong and Shellharbour local councils. Satisfaction was high, evidenced by an evaluation survey completed by 61% of participants and positive feedback ‘While the content was fantastic the key take away for me was the networking opportunities that were available in the room, it was an exceptionally diverse group!’ (Workshop 1 attendee). Early in 2018 a second workshop was held ‘We’re all in this together: Pursing the SDGs in Wollongong & Shellharbour’. An intersectoral audience attended a facilitated round table discussion held at the Wollongong City Council building providing diverse groups of local participants the opportunity to share, learn from each other and explore SDGs relevant to their organisation.
Another exciting partnership is with iAccelerate, a unique business accelerator and incubator that educates and supports start-ups with their entrepreneurial ideas. Since 2019 I have given time to iAccelerate to incorporate an SDG education session into their 12 week foundational skills program. The session helped entrepreneurs align their ideas with the SDGs and understand how their ideas impact the worlds largest challenges. This work has further developed into a blended learning SDG module with an asynchronous module that is used as pre-work and a synchronous SDG in-class module. To track impact a self-reporting tool was developed to understand and measure how resident companies align with the SDGs. SDG reporting is now a mandatory part of participating in iAccelerate’s program.
The anniversary of the UN SDGs takes place on September 25th each year. At this time, the global initiative ACT4SDG takes place across the world. On this day, for the past 4 years, I have instigated a whole-of-university cross-disciplinary student challenge event, utilising the SDG framework. This initiative has expanded from a 4 hour one-off SDG problem-solving challenge event in 2018 to a three week program tackling industry set challenges that finalised in a pitch collaborating with iAccelerate in 2019. Expanding in 2020 and 2021, in collaboration with UOW Student Life, the event took place online and reached out to our international students in Australia and overseas. The multidisciplinary experience was a recurring theme coming from students; “I am absolutely delighted to meet, brainstorm and work with such as diverse and creative team to innovate viable solutions to make earth more sustainable and healthier” (Student Testimony) and industry partners appreciated the collaboration; ‘Thanks so much for your vision and leadership in spearheading this effort’ (Aly Khalifa, Director Plastic Collective). Organising a whole-of-university event was initially challenging as many people questioned how I would bring students from different Faculties together but the University supported the event and each Faculty shared the marketing material to let students know about the initiative. Attitudes towards interdisciplinary experiences are popular today but not so common in 2018. I was very excited to be running with this initiative which has seen over 200 students engage in an interdisciplinary sustainable development challenge.