Dr Ellen Touchstone, Associate Dean for Responsible and Sustainable Business Education at International Business School Suzhou (IBSS) at XJTLU, was invited to be a panelist at the “Tech & Sustainability: Everyone’s Included” forum in Shenzhen, which was held by Huawei and co-hosted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently.
The world continues to grapple with the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, from a deepening digital divide in education to more uncertainty in dealing with the climate emergency. Thus, promoting equal access to education, ensuring inclusive talent development and enabling green development emerged as the major topics of the forum.
Irina Bokova, former Director-General of UNESCO explained that education has always been at the heart of the sustainable development process which was embodied in inclusive and equal access to quality education and lifelong learning for all. Equity is the foundation of this sustainable development goal which China has been strongly supporting with concrete actions. New technologies must be inclusive and available to all which is the true meaning of empowerment.
Following Bokova’s keynote speech, the panel discussion of “Ensuring equal access to education in the digital age” furthered the topic. Touchstone shared her experience of technological development and education. She discussed how pre-pandemic, traditional face-to-face education was the de facto norm. The pandemic, however, necessitated online learning which helped educators to understand better the benefits of this channel. While there were certainly challenges, IBSS and XJTLU were able to convert those challenges into opportunities for their students in terms of cooperation with other universities and organizations worldwide with the assistance of digital technologies. When asked which skills talents should cultivate to adapt to the new digital ecosystem, Dr Touchstone expressed the need for empathy and creativity. “Individuals are not independent units. We need to practice empathy in order to communicate successfully with others unlike ourselves. We need to harness the creativity from all stakeholders in order to meet the daunting challenges facing our world and planet.”
IBSS has shown its commitment to sustainability from early on, becoming the 7th Chinese UN Principles for
Responsible Management Education (PRME) Signatory. PRME business schools pledge to embed ethics,
responsibility and sustainability (ERS) into their teaching, research and service. Since this time, the school has achieved significant growth and impact in ERS, both in creating the structures necessary to support ERS learning and dialogue as well as in its direct positive impact on the communities it serves. In October of this year, IBSS will be hosting the 8th PRME Responsible Management Education Research Conference.