Sustainability Reporting with stakeholder inclusiveness as a teaching method
Alexander Herzner, Katharina Stucken, Bernhard Bleyer, OTH Amberg-Weiden
Presentation, November 9th, 2016
Sustainability reporting is still at an early stage of development in higher education institutions because of a work and cost intensive progress (Lozano, 2011; Sassen et al., 2014). That is why the purpose was to find a way to simplify the reporting process with stakeholder inclusiveness while teaching sustainability reporting to students in the curricula of business administration.
This Practitioner Presentations examines a reporting progress with relevant stakeholder inclusion by applying the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Guidelines. The GRI do highly recommend a stakeholder inclusiveness (GRI 2016). To find out if the inclusiveness supports the universities sustainability topics the students — as important stakeholders — were involved in the reporting progress and interviewed about their learning outcomes.
Findings and Implications
The results are showing that students’ awareness for the issues of sustainability (at a university) has been strengthened and now plays a more important role in their lives than before. Also students are enabled to apply the lessons learned to other modules of their academic program.
For Universities sustainability reporting will be a work intensive progress but there are possibilities to facilitate the data collection and filling the content easier. This method was tried and tested and is therefore highly recommendable for the next report as well as a recommendation for other higher education institutions who are interested in writing a sustainability report or a report for the UN PRME.
Nevertheless the reporting process should be institutionalized and integrated in the university’s organizational processes and should be embedded in a strategy or can be the starting point for a strategy.
Stakeholder inclusiveness raises awareness for sustainability issues and supports the reporting process positively. It provides the opportunity for students to apply theoretical concepts immediately into practice.
But without a strategic will and operative resources there will be future limitations for reporting at higher education institutions. The GRI as a framework is suitable, but has to be aligned to universities specifics.
At the end sustainability reporting as a teaching method is a practical approach to simplify the reporting progress while conveying sustainability values to students and offers so some valuable assistance.
Global Reporting Inititative (2016): https://www.globalreporting.org/reporting/get-started/Pages/default.aspx
Lozano, R. (2011): The state of sustainability reporting in universities, in: Int J of Sus in Higher Ed. Vol. 12(1), p. 67–78.
Sassen, R./Dienes, D./Beth, C. (2014): Nachhaltigkeitsberichtserstattung deutscher Hochschulen, in: Zeitschrift für Umweltpolitik & Umweltrecht. Vol. 37, p. 258–277.
Alexander Herzner has a Master of Science in Business Administration from the university Bamberg. He worked in several practical and scienctific projects, especially in the fields of strategic management, sustainability and business ethics. As a freelancer he is supporting organisations since 2006. Since 2011 he is adjunct professor for controlling and sustainability and since 2014 sustainability advisor at the Institute for Sustainability at the Ostbayerische Technische Hochschule (University of applied sciences) Amberg-Weiden.
Publications can be seen at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Alexander_Herzner