Responsible leadership

Sustainable University Day 2015
18 March 2015 | University of St. Gallen

Responsible leadership - what is the contribution of universities?
While sustainable development is a macro concept, relating to society as a whole, and sustainability management is a meso concept related to organizations, responsible leadership is a micro concept, addressing the individual level. All three concepts address the issue of sustainability but on different levels and with a different perspective. The 2015 Sustainable University Day lays a focus on responsible leadership and the contribution of universities to educate responsible leaders. Leaders are typically educated at universities. Many universities claim that their mission is to educate leaders who will advance the well-being of society and thereby contribute to sustainable development. Its graduates will be not only highly qualified professional people but also responsible members of society.

However, leaders in both the private and public sectors are facing increasing criticism from society for short-sighted and narrow decisions and actions. In the wake of the major global challenges we are collectively facing - political challenges, financial and economic challenges, energy and resource challenges - a responsible leadership is demanded, that goes beyond gaining and using power for organizational or personal success. A responsible leadership effectively serves a wider public purpose and generates value for a broader set of stakeholders and society as whole. They build and cultivate relationships with stakeholders to create shared value, taking into account the potential, long-term impact and indirect consequences of their actions. Responsible leaders are therefore individuals who are capable to reconcile their personal interests or those of their organization with the needs and values of society-at-large.

The Sustainable University Day 2015 will pursue the question, what are universities effectively doing in responding to the call for responsible leadership and sustainable development? How well are they doing their job? Do students take the mission statements of the universities they join seriously? And what do they learn during their education? Will the public trust the universities in developing the competencies needed to deal with the great societal and global challenges? What are difficulties and limitations the different actors within the universities are facing? And what are good practices and successful strategies developed by universities in addressing these challenges?

Educating heads, hands and hearts - a thematic article on the congress' special theme


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