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Press Release - 07 September 2007

University of Bath to celebrate 10th anniversary of business responsibility degree

The University of Bath on Thursday (September 13) celebrates the 10th anniversary of a ground-breaking degree in corporate responsibility.

The MSc in Responsibility and Business Practice programme began in 1997, and was the only course of its kind in the world at the time to explore responsible business practice, an idea that has since spread round the globe.

The MSc is still unique because of its combination of an innovative active educational approach and the range of issues it covers.

The course, run by the University’s School of Management, consists of eight week-long workshops held over two years, structured to allow students who are in work to attend. The workshops cover areas such as globalisation, new economics, ecology, corporate responsibility and corporate citizenship.

During its ten years, the MSc in Responsibility and Business Practice has achieved an international reputation, attracting participants from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Europe, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Nigeria, the Philippines, Scandinavia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and the USA. Sponsoring organisations include ABN AMRO Bank, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Rio Tinto Exploration, Swiss Re, Volvo and WWF.

The course was initiated by Professor Judi Marshall and Professor Peter Reason, of the School of Management, and Dr Gill Coleman of the New Academy of Business, which was set up by the late Anita Roddick to promote responsible business practice.

Professor Marshall said: “The launch of the programme in 1997 signified one of the first attempts in management education to address sustainability and corporate responsibility issues directly. Our graduates have carried what they have learned here to companies and organisations around the world.

“The course encourages students in active learning, inquiry and self-reflection and provides a forum for them to become pioneers in responsible business practices so that they then help to change the worlds they work in.

“The course addresses the challenges currently facing those managers, consultants, citizens and others who seek to integrate successful business practice with a concern for social, environmental and ethical issues.

“Climate change, world poverty and energy futures are now recognised as significant global challenges. But there are no easy answers.

“Graduates and students from the MSc appreciate the complexities involved and the need to put ideas into appropriate forms of action. They are playing leading roles in developing innovative practices and raising issues for debate in the varied professional areas and countries they come from.”

The course organisers are holding a special two-day event on September 13 and 14. The two-day event will include an alumni reunion, a variety of networking activities and discussion of current issues in the field. The special event will welcome over 65 past and current students, some of whom are travelling from countries including Germany, Sweden, the USA, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

Attendance at the two-day event is by invitation only but anyone who is interested in finding out more about the programme is welcome to attend the lunch on Friday. Please contact Christine Bone, course administrator on 01225 383861 for more information.

There are now 173 graduates and 57 current students. In 2007 the course intake increased by 32 per cent, highlighting its growing success. The programme has received increasing media attention, including a review in April 2005 in the Harvard Business Review by Rooke and Torbert, who declared the degree a ‘path-breaking program’.

The course is influenced by the principles and practices of action research, including disciplined inquiry, experiential learning and reflection. Visiting fellows include Dr Chris Seeley, David Ballard and Tim Malnick.

Examples of the work of graduates include the Carbon Disclosure Project, which is the world's largest registry of greenhouse emissions by companies.

This initiative involves asking companies to make public their carbon emissions, and by doing so encouraging them to reduce them. Almost 1000 of the world’s largest companies now report their emissions to the Project’s website. The Project was recently referenced in the Stern Report, the Treasury-commissioned review of global warming, which said: “The Carbon Disclosure Project provides evidence of a growth in the desire of businesses to report carbon footprints to investors.”

Other Bath MSc course graduates are working in industry for companies such as BP, Cable & Wireless, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Hewlett-Packard and Unilever, as well as government departments such as Work and Pensions and the Cabinet Office.

One graduate, Carole Bond, organised a series of innovative meetings designed to encourage companies in south west England to cut their greenhouse gas emissions and become more aware of the business opportunities from climate change; The popular events were organised to persuade firms’ marketing staff to think of ways of producing products and services using low carbon production and delivery techniques.

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