Business Education activism and the common good – a reflection on the UN PRME Forum

 ‘Business as a force for good’  was a key phrase at the recent gathering of the UN Global Forum for Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME) in New York http://www.unprme.org/news/index.php?newsid=363#.VZqnbXnbLtx . The notion of ‘good’ seems to represent here a newly introduced set of  17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its over 160 targets (https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgsproposal). It seems to have given rise to a new way of speaking about sustainable development in terms of responsible management education, corporate sustainability and partnering across sectors, captured by the phrase ‘Architects of a Better World’ https://www.unglobalcompact.org/library/441, the UN Global Compact’s (https://www.unglobalcompact.org/)  innovative movement. It is important to expose to  critical scrutiny the above developments especially because the actual debates in New York in June 2015 did not provide substantial opportunities for expression, let alone inclusion, of critical thought in the proposed SDGs and actions. The notion of ‘goals’ in SDG has recently replaced the word ‘agenda’ (post-2015 SDA) - which is significant in itself and I wonder whether it is another expression of the dominant business /capitalist values (read - corporate sustainability ) over everything else. It is also interesting that the United Nations secretary-general has reinforced in his note a vision of SD by saying ‘Responsible management education and corporate sustainability go hand in hand. Both are critical to the advancement of the new Sustainable Development Goals.’ http://www.unprme.org/resource-docs/UNSGremarksatGlobalForum24June2015.pdf Educational activism must provide a critical and ethical voice to yet another attempt to defining and promoting ‘common good’ largely within the dominant paradigm.