Leveraging Business Education for Social Good: Case Study of a Business Student’s Social Impact

Discover the transformative potential of business education in societal advancement. Explore how post-experience programs, like those offered by GBS, equip students with tools and mindsets to extend their impact beyond corporate settings. Learn about the real-world initiatives driven by business students, fostering social change and addressing pressing global challenges. In a case study featuring Louisa Mayer, delve into a collaborative effort addressing the digital skills gap in education, exemplifying the influential role of business students in shaping a more inclusive and digitized learning environment.

Business schools – particularly those offering post-experience programs – are usually known for being a career launchpad for their graduates: Students build important networks of like-minded professionals, have opportunities to meet company executives, and most have decided to return ’back to school’ through a motivation to take their next major career step. Due to the practical focus of most post-experience programs and considering all degree programs at GBS are part-time, a program’s focus is usually on developing and practicing skills and methods with a real-world impact in the student’s career.

But what impact could business students have if they applied their newfound knowledge to society, i.e. outside of the workplace in addition for personal success? Indeed, we should ask ourselves, in the age of an ever-increasing focus on sustainability and corporate responsibility, if the social applicability of the toolset taught throughout a program should be part of business education? We are, after all, developing the next (or even current) generation of business leaders.

The truth is: it already is. You’ll have difficulties finding a business program which doesn’t include ethical considerations, Corporate Social Responsibility or Social Entrepreneurship elements, and encourage participants to focus on a picture bigger than simply their aspired promotion. These elements are increasing in importance as the business world continues to change and grow. Considering the hands-on approach of such programs, the work done during their studies can have real and immediate effects when put into practice. Business students are well-connected, have developed a pragmatic, entrepreneurial state of mind, and have learned to be cross-functional. They are in the perfect position to create real change and often have the resources to enable proesses.

What does social impact through business education look like, then? There is of course no answer to this – there are as many opportunities as there are ideas. Examples of what GBS students have achieved in the past include a start-up born out of a group project and master thesis, which uses an app to support plastic cleanup of oceans and waterways, or a mentoring program which connects natural science students to industry mentors so they can learn how to transfer their natural science background to industry opportunities. Or the case of Louisa Mayer, Manager at Accenture Interactive and GBS Master of Digital Transformation Management Class of 2020 alumna. Louisa supported the project ‚Digital Summer School for Teachers‘ – a project driven by Accenture Corporate Citizenship. Addressing the critical issue of a rapid shift to digital homeschooling due to Covid-19, the program was developed to support teachers in enhancing their digital skills to facilitate better teaching online.

The following case study describes how Louisa and her colleagues were able to create a space for teachers to develop their digital skills, supported by knowledgeable coaches who could address their personal challenges.

Digital Summer School: Supporting teachers in times of change to close the digital skill gap

When you have the opportunity to acquire new skills in the field of digitization, why not pass them on to others to bridge some digital divides in education?

In the past months, the school closures due to Covid have posed great challenges to the educational landscape – involving teachers, parents and students. Digital learning and especially teaching works differently, when teacher and students are not able to collaborate in a physical space. We all might have recognized this too well in the recent months during the intensive times of homeschooling and understood that we need to close the digital skills gap in order to enable blended learning opportunities even outside of classrooms. The fundamental educational system hasn’t changed much in decades, even though our society has undergone a rapid transformation. In many schools, the transition to digitalized education is still happening too slow. Teachers were suddenly confronted with pandemic lockdowns and have been partially left alone when trying to shift their presence-based teaching concepts to the internet. 

Joining forces with Teach First and Accenture Corporate Citizenship, we launched the “Digital Summer School” for teachers. The Digital Summer School worked according to the open-door principle: whoever wanted to participate was welcomed and could work together with coaches from Accenture on their individual challenges. During a series of two-hour virtual workshops in a collaborative environment (using digital tools like Mural and Zoom) we formed coaching groups and prepared ourselves for the upcoming digitalized school year. In our coaching groups, digital experts and enthusiasts came together with teachers to develop new learning approaches, materials and experiences. The outcomes and discussed concepts covered topics such as the integration of high-risk students into classes, the teaching of digital skills in regular lessons, the transfer of knowledge between schools with different maturity levels as well as further training opportunities for teachers (i.e. Digitale Lernwerkstatt).

 What we realized: If you put passionate people together, great things can happen. Especially when it’s about the future of digital education, we all should learn how to deliver learning in the new normal.

To find out more about the project, connect with Louisa via LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/louisa-mayer/