No sustainability without justice and truth

An Indian Institute of Management takes the sustainability debate beyond its environmental interpretation to engender an appreciation of the physical, mental and spiritual dimensions of existence through its educational offerings. Their curriculum  emphasise that the concept of sustainability must be seen in conjunction with Justice, since any system that is unjust cannot be sustainable – and vice versa. The violation of the universal principles of Justice and Truth, on which sustainability rests, leads to conflict and their incorporation into society leads to a higher level of existence.

IIM ShillongOur Institute in India has sustainability at its core. It is compulsory for all students to take a foundation course on sustainability. Since any system that puts the self in conflict with another is not sustainable, the course looks at the entire gamut of issues in management education in relation to the self: the self as a part of creation, the self as a part of the natural world, the self as a part of society and the self as a part of the economy. The design of this course contains the essence of future management education.

For too long, the focus of sustainability has been confined to environmental interpretations. In our foundation course, we posit sustainability as being another name for that which creates and sustains all life forms. The fact that the concept of waste is alien in the natural world is a starting point for most discussions. We also emphasise that the concept of sustainability must be seen in conjunction with Justice, since any system that is unjust cannot be sustainable – and vice versa. The violation of the universal principles of Justice and Truth, on which sustainability rests, leads to conflict and their incorporation into society leads to a higher level of existence.

We believe that education should engender an appreciation of the physical, mental and spiritual dimensions of existence, and that responsible leadership should create conditions where each individual has the opportunity to develop an appreciation of these facts. Our curriculum tries to do this by refusing to give students readymade answers to problems and to encourage them to subject anything and everything to scrutiny. The first thing that we examine is the purpose of human life, second is the concept of development, third is the concept of wealth and fourth is the concept of happiness. Once the shortcomings become apparent, we examine possible solutions and also redefine the goals of business and management.

There has been a conscious effort not to confine faculty recruitment to conventional mainstream management disciplines, but to open up teaching positions to a variety of disciplines such as history, ethics, micro-finance and rural development. As well as this, the faculty of the institute have received training from some of the doyens of the case method pedagogy of the teaching and learning process, and all teaching centers around the theme of sustainability.

As well as our degree programs, we also hold an annual international conference on sustainability.

Filed in: Open access between academia and practice, Transformative Learning
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