College of Business and Economics, University of Guelph – SDG Awards 2017

In this SDG Awards 2017 entry:

Voting Category: Large Organization

SDG Action

The College of Business and Economics (CBE) at the University of Guelph endeavors to develop leaders who use business as a tool for economic, social, and environmental good. Our College’s mission is to provide a transformational learning environment that encourages critical reflection, personal growth, community engagement and global awareness, while promoting a comprehensive understanding of both traditional and emerging themes in management and economics. We foster social and ethical responsibility and prepare graduates for leadership roles that will improve the effectiveness of their organizations and the well-being of people in Canada and around the world.

We are recognized as the only academic institution in Canada to be considered a “Champion” of the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), an initiative of the United Nation’s Global Compact. PRME’s mission is to transform management education, research and thought leadership globally by providing clear principles that aim to meet the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Elements of corporate social responsibility and business ethics run throughout our undergraduate business programs. Our courses provide students with an opportunity to examine a comprehensive range of topics and issues related to business and sustainability and aims to explore the implications of changing stakeholder expectations, and opportunities for organizational sustainable value creation. All students enrolled in the bachelor of commerce program are required to complete a course in corporate social responsibility and learn how the Sustainable Development Goals can be implemented into organizations.

Our MBA in Sustainable Commerce emphasizes responsible social and environmental business practices as well as traditional financial drivers for growth and sustainability. Working business professionals explore topics such as sustainable business marketing strategy, business practices for sustainability and governance for sustainability.
Housed within CBE, the Centre for Business and Student Enterprise (CBaSE) offers a business-consulting course, which transforms undergraduate students into consultants, who work with a local business to solve a challenge they are facing. The Centre also provides workshops and sessions to local businesses and student entrepreneurs who are thinking of pursuing their BCorp Certification – a certified business who meets rigorous social and environmental performance standards. Additionally, the Centre’s incubator program, The Hub, provides mentorship, funding and office space to student entrepreneurs. The Hub specializes in incubating startups whose business offers a sustainable solution to a social or environmental problem.

SDG Impact

In 2015, the dean of the College of Business and Economics at the University of Guelph, Julia Christensen Hughes, addressed the United Nation’s General Assembly regarding post-secondary institutions role in responsible management education and integrating ethical business topics into business curriculum.

Our students placed 1st in the 2015 PRME-LEAD Challenge, a global competition that saw students of PRME Champion schools submit short videos discussing how corporations can integrate sustainability into their business practice.
BComm students have raised over $25,000 for at-risk youth homelessness through the 5 Days for the Homeless campaign.

In 2015-2016, the Centre for Business and Student Enterprise (CBaSE) funded 11 startups with $143,000 in total investment. Many of these startups include social and environmental impact metrics into their business models. CBaSE had 369 undergraduate students enrolled in their business-consulting course, who consulted on projects for 133 local businesses. In total, the Centre funded 255 students ($12,296 total) in case competitions, and other applied-learning, entrepreneurial focused activities.

University of Guelph’s business alumni make up a network of more than 12,000 leaders in business, finance, hospitality, real estate, and agriculture. They are empowered with the training and skills from their education at CBE. They demonstrate how business can have an impact on the economy as well as the environment, culture and society. Alumni such as:

  • Entrepreneur Gavin Armstrong is helping eliminate iron deficiency in developing countries. Armstrong’s company Lucky Iron Fish manufactures and distributes a novel invention that has won international awards including the Cannes Lion and Clio Design Award. Armstrong was awarded the prestigious Forbes 30 Under 30 in the social entrepreneur category in 2016.
  • Bob Desautels, founder of the Neighbourhood Group of Companies, was one of the first restaurants in Ontario to be considered a certified B-Corp business.
  • VP of Personal Care at Unilever, Sharon Macleod, developed the highly successful ad campaign for Dove, titled the “Dove Self Esteem Project” which helped women develop a positive relationship with their self-image.

Our engaged and widely renowned faculty contribute to research and knowledge that enhances our understanding of how business can be a used to improve how we live and conduct business. Our researchers explore areas such as growing sustainable crops in Ontario, battling international food fraud, ethics in advertising, gender wage gap and green real estate.

Future Plans

The College of Business and Economics (CBE) will be hosting the United Nation’s Principles for Responsible Management Education regional meeting in October 2017. This regional meeting will bring academics and business leaders to campus to discuss how the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals can be integrated within post-secondary business and management curriculum.

SDG Partnerships

Launched in May 2017, the Longo’s Food Retail Lab and the Schneider’s Research Lab are home to food retail research that enhances our understanding of consumer decision-making, consumption, and reactions to food advertising. These labs were made possible through generous gifts from Longo Brothers Fruit Market Inc. and Schneider Foods. Resembling an actual grocery store with fully stocked shelves and check-out counter, the Longo’s Food Retail Lab utilizes eye-tracking equipment and cameras to gauge buyer behaviour patterns as consumers shop. Researchers will explore a number of areas including how consumers value and learn about different foods, and their decision making when purchasing and consuming foods.

Our students and faculty played a pivotal role in a national green housing program, which saw the construction of net zero energy homes in the city of Guelph. Built by Reid’s Heritage Homes, net zero homes produce as much energy as they consume. Faculty and students conducted consumer and market research, real estate and market pricing analysis, and examination of occupant behavior.

The University of Guelph has a decade-long relationship with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) that has led to collaborations on ground-breaking research and education that directly impacts all Canadians. CBE professor Erna van Duren currently serves as OMAFRA’s-UofG’s Research Program Director, Product Development and Enhancement through Value Chains. This research focuses on product and value chain development that anticipates market opportunities in the Ontario agri-food and rural sectors.

Supplementary Media & Documents