Applying whole person learning to real-world problems

A business school in Hong Kong sets an example to other institutions with its strong emphasis on ethics, corporate social responsibility and corporate governance to its education and research agenda, which form a core aspect of its transformative learning philosophy. The school conducts wide-ranging community based work in promoting corporate social responsibility by encouraging its students to apply their knowledge to help not-for-profit organizations and across poor regions.

Hong Kong Baptist University places a strong focus on business ethics, corporate social responsibility and corporate governance in their education and research agenda, with a pedagogy that is largely based on the Whole Person Learning (transformative) philosophy.

All degree programmes revolve around problem-solving, interdisciplinary and student-centred learning processes, which seek to develop problem-solving skills and critical thinking potential. Faculty staff employ innovative teaching methodologies to enhance the integration of theory and practice – such as group discussions, presentations, guest lectures, case studies, action learning, company visits, in-firm projects, field trips and internships.

Social responsibility is a key feature to Hong Kong Baptist University’s curriculum. For example, their Business and Corporate Social Responsibility module is compulsory for students studying a BBA, or a postgraduate course in Corporate Governance and Ethics. The University strongly believes in issue-centred learning as a means of applying their knowledge and practice their skills, as seen in their IIBD Case Competition, where students work under pressure in simulated business conditions to resolve real-world business problems.

The curriculum design emphasises knowledge application rather than knowledge acquisition: students are encouraged to be aware of and understand the changes in the economic, political, legal, social and technological environments and to develop a commitment to life-long learning. Students are expected to apply their business knowledge, who often work with not-for-profit organizations or in economically depressed areas of mainland China – such as Yunnan and Guizhou.

The University further encourages knowledge transfer through collaboration, most commonly seen in their student debate forums which promote the exchange of ideas across issues related to sustainability, corporate responsibility, and business ethics. A better example may be seen in their 2009 community-wide project, Corporate Sustainability: a Community Dialogue, which offered seminars, workshops, contests, exhibitions and research projects designed to encourage dialogue between students, academics and the wider Hong Kong population.

The University similarly collaborates with private and public sector business leaders, both in forging links for students and ensuring that the knowledge and research they conduct is effectively transferred into practice. The School of Business has conducted over 25 research projects on various CSR-related subjects, such as “Perceived Ethical Business Practices in China: The Interactive Effects of Values, Work Climate and Business Environment” or “Protection of Minority Shareholders: Practice in China”. Many research projects are collaborative efforts across multiple faculties.

Finally, Every two years the university hosts the World Business Ethics Forum (WBEF), which serves as a platform for the global community of academics to share their ideas.

Filed in: Issue-centered learning, Open access between academia and practice, Reflective practice and fieldwork, Transformative Learning
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