3. Methods

Section 3: Method


Principle 3 | Method: We will create educational frameworks, materials, processes and environments that enable effective learning experiences for responsible leadership.

The Business School seeks to provide all its students with an outstanding career focused student learning experience. In addition, the career focused learning experience that we deliver must enable us to be confident that all of our students will graduate understanding the need to practice socially responsible management throughout their careers and will recognise the value of doing so for themselves, their organisations and society.

Accordingly, we are designing innovative new courses and programs, built around a framework of program learning outcomes. We are offering a range of work integrated learning experiences pertaining to ethics, sustainability, social and environmental responsibility. From these learning experiences, we aim to ensure that our students will achieve success as global citizens and socially responsible managers.

We underpin this with educational frameworks, materials, processes and environments that enable effective learning experiences for responsible leadership.

3.1 Educational Frameworks for Responsible Leadership

During 2016-2017 existing program learning goals and outcomes were reviewed in a process of extensive consultation across the Business School. A particular area of concern was PLO 5: Our graduates will have a sound awareness of the ethical, social and environmental implications of business practice, which was recognised as insufficient.

The review resulted in the development of seven Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs) which more accurately reflect our educational philosophy and which have been implemented across all undergraduate and postgraduate coursework programs. Three separate PLOs now enable us to more clearly articulate our commitment to the principles of responsible management and business education. They are:

  • PLO 5: Responsible business practice – Students will develop and be committed to responsible business thinking and approaches, which are underpinned by ethical professional practice and sustainability considerations.
  • PLO 6: Global and cultural competence – Students will be aware of business systems in the wider world and actively committed to recognise and respect the cultural norms, beliefs and values of others, and will apply this knowledge to interact, communicate and work effectively in diverse environments.
  • PLO 7: Leadership development – Students will develop the capacity to take initiative, encourage forward thinking and bring about innovation, which effectively influencing others to achieve desired results.

Detailed curriculum mapping is now being undertaken for all programs to support a systematic review of how and where PLOs are taught and developed and to identify any gaps in coverage. This will form the basis for curriculum renewal and innovation to better embed the PRME as an essential part of preparing ‘future ready’ business graduates.

For example, in 2018 the School of Accounting mapped the Masters of Professional Accounting (MPA) to the new PLOs. Across the program’s core (compulsory) courses, there are 19 assessments that address PLO 5 and seven that address PLO 6.

3.1.1 PLO 5: Responsible Business Practice

Disciplinary schools now have access to a clearly articulated statement of ‘responsible business practice’ and supporting guidelines, as shown in the following panel.

Statement: Students will develop and be committed to responsible business thinking and approaches, which are underpinned by ethical professional practice and sustainability considerations.


  1. Apply relevant ethical frameworks to business decisions / practice
  2. Evaluate business decisions / practice in light of economic, social and environmental sustainability

Framing the PLO: The notes below provide additional explanation of specific components related to the criteria to assist in interpreting and applying this PLO in different disciplines, courses, and types of assessments.

Responsible business practice can be considered in terms of three levels:

  • individual (professional ethics, virtuous practice)
  • organisational (Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) / Triple Bottom Line (TBL or 3BL))
  • systemic (overall systems, laws and processes).

Responsible business practice encompasses ethical practice, corporate responsibility and sustainability, all of which are captured in the UN Principles of Responsible Management (PRME) to which UNSW subscribes.

Ethical professional practice and the various aspects of sustainability are further outlined as follows:

  • Ethical professional practice – will be based on professional and/or ethical frameworks and principles relevant to the discipline area. Students will identify and include in business and other organisational processes and practices:
    • the key stakeholders
    • the ethical elements
    • institutional incentives and constraints in the regulatory and cultural context, including professional and ethical codes of conduct
    • the relevance of their own discipline or profession in contributing to ethical practice.
  • Economic sustainability – refers to the process of allocating and developing scarce resources in the pursuit of positive social and environmental outcomes. It entails consideration of the internal and external implications of organisational sustainability1, including:
    • financial viability
    • the social licence to operate
    • the development of intangible assets
    • influence on the wider society, including economic and environmental impacts.
  • Social sustainability – includes awareness of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their link to business2. It also embodies social justice principles and values; and the importance of addressing current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own3.
  • Environmental sustainability – contemplates environmentally-responsible business practice including the environmental impact of business activity, ecosystem diversity and protection, and identification of issues around pollution and climate change.


1 Doane, D., & MacGillivray, A. (2001). Economic sustainability: The business of staying in business. New Economics Foundation. Accessed on 4/5/2017 from: http://www.projectsigma.co.uk/RnDStreams/RD_economic_sustain.pdf

2 PRME Secretariat (n.d.). Management education and the Sustainable Development Goals: Transforming education to act responsibly and find opportunities. Accessed on 4/5/2017 from: http://www.unprme.org/resource-docs/SDGBrochurePrint.pdf

3 UN (1987). Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future (Brundtland Report). Accessed on 4/5/2017 from http://www.un-documents.net/ocf12.htm#I

3.2 Educational Materials for Responsible Leadership

3.2.1 Global Sustainability and Social Enterprise (GSSE)

The Centre for Social Impact, or CSI, continues to lead the field in providing business education that addresses social and economic sustainability and ethics.


Want to make the world a better place?

So how can you create a career out of making positive global change? Sustainability and social enterprise are the new frontiers of business innovation.


In 2018, the UNSW Business School launched a new specialisation taught in collaboration with CSI: Global Sustainability and Social Enterprise (GSSE) . It can be taken as part of the Graduate Certificate in Analytics (Online), Graduate Certificate in Commerce, Graduate Diploma in Analytics (Online), the Master of Analytics, the Master of Commerce and Master of Commerce (Extension) programs.

The specialisation is designed for students who are passionate about improving lives, communities, and the environment. It teaches students business knowledge, tools, and techniques to work towards global change through a career in industry or government, not-for-profits, or by creating change at the local level through starting or scaling sustainable social enterprises.

The GSSE structure includes the following three new core courses:

  • COMM5201: Social Enterprises: Doing Business for Social Good, taught by Michael Katz, provides students with the opportunity to develop a social enterprise and to enter their business case in the national competition, the Big Idea. As a starting point the students are required to use the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as way to identify a wicked social or environmental problem, either locally or overseas. In 2018, COMM5201 was taught alongside the Business School’s undergraduate course COMM3030: Social Entrepreneurship Practicum – Big Idea. Both the undergraduate and postgraduate teams chosen by the UNSW local judges to compete in the national semi-finals won their respective national competitions.
  • COMM5202: Social and Environmental Sustainability has a particular focus on sustainability. The lecturer, Shanil Samarakoon, requires students to engage in a ‘Living Your Values’ exercise in which they identify, act, and reflect on their values in relation to a more sustainable world. The exercise is aimed at creating a more meaningful connection to thinking about global social responsibility and creates a framework through which students can engage with matters of sustainability, both as professionals, and as global citizens. As part of the exercise, students are required to write a letter to themselves drawing on their values and goals for the following 12 months, the purpose being to highlight their personal commitment to making a positive impact. The letters are then posted back to the students a year later.
  • COMM5203: Social and Environmental Outcomes Measurement provides introductory, applied knowledge and skills for measuring social and environmental outcome and impact, a topic that is in increasing demand from stakeholders. It examines some of the key social impact measurement approaches and provides the knowledge and tools necessary to understand and apply social impact frameworks and methodologies at project and organisational level.

The specialisation also has two electives taught by CSI, COMM5204 Investing for Local and Global Impact taught by Michael Katz (students learn to apply their commercial skills to solving social issues through business) and COMM5205 Change for Sustainability taught by Dr Alexandra Walker (based on the concept of social responsibility of individuals, companies and organisations, using the SDGs as a framework for sustainability).

3.2.2 Social Entrepreneurship Practicum Suite of Courses

These courses are designed to integrate theory with experiential practice and involve authentic engagement with partner organisations. Students work in teams and projects may involve social innovation and entrepreneurship; philanthropy; impact investing; business and human rights; corporate social responsibility; pro bono and volunteering; measuring social impact; social finance; and other related fields.

  • COMM3030 Social Impact Hub Sydney allows UG students to put their business skills and knowledge to use in planning and implementing a real project in a field of social impact.
  • COMM3030 Myanmar and India are delivered in conjunction with the Centre for Social Impact and provide UG students the chance to work overseas on a social entrepreneurship project.
  • COMM3030 The Big Idea Competition is delivered in conjunction with the Big Issue. Students explore an area of disadvantage and propose a business case for an appropriate social enterprise, either as a start-up or in conjunction with an existing NFP. It was taught for the first time in 2018 by Selena Griffith and run alongside COMM5201 Social Enterprise: Doing Business for Social Good (see above). See Section 5.4.1 for details of winning student teams.
  • COMM5030 Sydney and Bali is the capstone for the MCom Global Sustainability & Social Enterprise major, as well as an alternative capstone for other MCom majors. Students work with a social entrepreneur in a consulting process that requires teamwork, autonomy, and strategic thinking.
Postgraduate students in Social Entrepreneurship practicum, Bali 2018

3.2.3 Tax Clinic and Work Integrated Learning

In 2018, UNSW Business School launched a Work Integrated Learning (WIL) program to increase the number and type of work integrated learning opportunities available to students to help build their career skills. Working with the WIL team, senior lecturer Ann Kayis-Kumar, from the School of Taxation & Business Law, has created a tax clinic, based around a PlayTax gamification, which will be launched in mid-2019.

The Tax Clinic is an experiential learning course. Students will be given the opportunity to support unrepresented, lower income or vulnerable taxpayers and small businesses in managing their tax affairs. Through their work for disadvantaged clients on case, education and policy files, students will develop their understanding of substantive and procedural tax and ethical issues. The mission of the Tax Clinic is to improve access to tax justice for all members of the Sydney community by providing tax advice and advocacy, empowering individuals and small businesses through community education, and to remove systemic injustice by advocating for tax reform.

3.2.4 Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) courses

MNGT6211: Executive Blueprint was launched in 2019 and is a commencing course and part of Stage 1 of the revised MBA Executive Program. The same activities will also occur in MMGT6001: Managing Yourself and Others in the new Master of Management program. In these courses, a core concept is effective leadership, which is defined as encompassing the following:

Promote social justice and morality; Member satisfaction and commitment are increased by a climate of fairness, compassion and social responsibility; To maintain such a climate requires active efforts to protect individual rights, encourage social responsibility and oppose unethical practices. Effective leaders set an example of moral behaviour, and they take necessary actions to promote social justice (based on Yukl, 2013, Leadership in organizations, 8th Edn, Pearson, Boston).

The newly revised activities include:

  • A critical reflection on the UN Global Compact and SDGs
  • Students reflecting on their own ethical values and established ethical principles
  • A standardised ethical leadership self-assessment
  • Two Giving Voice to Values case studies
  • A reading on Heslin & Ochoa on ‘Principles for fostering organisations’ Corporate Social Responsibility
  • An activity requiring students to generate initiatives whereby they could apply CSR building principles

“Ethical Aspects of Business Analytics” has been introduced as the final unit in the core MBAX9135: Business Analytics course, and will be introduced as an elective in the forthcoming Master of Management program. The unit includes a big data ethics framework, ethical decision point cycle and social-media ethics and a decision tree; with key concepts, ethics, unintended consequences, values, privacy, and regulation.

3.3 Educational Environments for Responsible Leadership

3.3.1 National Indigenous Business Summer School 2019

Shaun Wright, NIBSS 2019 UNSW Indigenous business school co-designer, facilitator and mentor

Building on the success of the inaugural National Indigenous Business Summer School (NIBSS) at University of Melbourne in 2018, NIBSS 2019 saw 23 Indigenous high school students from across the country engaged with and learnt from a wide range of Indigenous role models. These included current UNSW Indigenous business students, alumni, staff and external advisors: Indigenous industry leaders, entrepreneurs and business practitioners.

The design and delivery of NIBSS19 created an invaluable opportunity to draw on and develop the agency of many of our current UNSW Indigenous business students and alumni. Having been participants in UNSW Indigenous winter school business program and UNSW Indigenous Pre-Program in Business themselves, our NIBSS19 mentors identify these as key factors in their decision to study Business at university.

They have also been engaged as business facilitators, tutors and mentors in both programs, as well as in high school outreach entrepreneur workshops with UNSW ASPIRE; Walan Mayingu Indigenous Entrepreneurship Youth program 2017/2018; NSW AECG ATSIMA STEAM 2018 and Indisprint 2018 (see Section 5.4.2). Drawing on their own studies and experiences, NIBSS 2019 business facilitators were highly relatable for participants and pinnacle to the engagement learning and development throughout NIBSS19.

Entrepreneurship, culture, technology, design thinking, community empowerment, social and economic impact were central themes throughout NIBSS19 as encapsulated in the Sprint Challenge. Equally crucial was the progressive design, which ensured that each of the interrelated workshops, industry visits and experiences were stimulating and valuable in their own right, relating to the NIBSS19 themes, Sprint Challenge and participants’ own lives.

For a post NIBSS roundup, click here.

Attendees and staff of National Indigenous Business Summer School 2019.