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AUT Business School Recognised For Innovative Teaching During Global Crises

Four scholars who teach an AUT Business School course have been acknowledged for their focus on ethical business practices, global sustainability, and the integration of indigenous wisdom into the realm of business.

A core part of the Bachelor of Business degree, the course “Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability” has been awarded the “2020 Ideas Worth Teaching Award” by the US-based Aspen Institute.

The Aspen Institute is a global non-profit organisation committed to realising a free, just, and equitable society. The institute’s Business and Society Program (Aspen BSP) works with business executives and scholars to align business decisions and investments with the long-term health of society—and the planet.

The undergraduate course (BUSS604) provides students with the tools to evaluate and address ethical issues at an individual and organisational level and examines different approaches to doing business in a socially and environmentally responsible way.

The course has been developed by four respected academics whose individual areas of expertise combine to form an innovative and evidence-based teaching collective.

The Business School’s Marjolein Lips-Wiersma is Professor of Ethics and Sustainability Leadership, whose research focuses on how sustainability practices enhance meaning and well-being in the workplace. Peter McGhee, Te Aupōuri, is a Senior Lecturer and Deputy Head of the Department of Management, whose scholarship examines business ethics, workplace spirituality, and sustainability education. Peter Skilling (Management) is a Senior Lecturer who studies how society responds to pressing social problems, such as in-work poverty and climate change, and the interactions between business, governments, and society. The Management Department’s Amber Nicholson, Ngāruahine (Management), is a Lecturer of ethics and sustainability, and leadership; her work is informed by a decade of Māori-led research experience.

In bestowing the 2020 Ideas Worth Teaching Award to the Business School, the Aspen Institute noted that the prize honours academics who are “redefining business education”—providing learning experiences that equip managers of tomorrow with the context, skills and decision-making capabilities needed to lead in an increasingly complex business environment—and world.

“With each new headline, 2020 has underscored the need for fresh thinking on issues at the intersection of business and society,” says Business & Society Advisor Claire Preisser. “Whether it’s the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic crisis it triggered, or protests for racial justice, this year is an urgent call-to-action to reset business norms so that, in rebuilding our economy, we rebuild for better human—and not only financial—outcomes.”

Dean of the Business School, Professor Kate Kearins, says the award—one of only nine conferred worldwide—shows not only the calibre of the teaching and learning but also the impact AUT research has on communities in and beyond Aotearoa New Zealand.

“I congratulate our awardees, whose teaching and research expertise helps shape the way we live and work today, tomorrow and in the years to come. By instilling in our students the ability and confidence to care, question and act, courses like Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability can help ensure a better future for us all,” says Professor Kearins.

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