The RMIT University will be one of the first Australian Universities to ensure that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Ethics are part of its MBA programs.

As of 2011 The University’s MBA and the MBA Executive will feature compulsory subjects in CSR, Governance and Law.

The MBA programs are offered through the University’s Graduate School of Business and Law, which was one of several business schools that participated in the Australian Research Institute for Environment and Sustainability’s (ARIES) research program designed to increase the presence of CSR and Sustainability in MBA programs. The lead researcher and long time AAPAE member Dr Michael Segon developed key research and educational engagement strategies with MBA students and other faculty members. As part of this research an extensive review was conducted into how to best teach business ethics and CSR both from a subject matter and educational design perspective.

“The research into how ethics and CSR should be taught suggested that most business schools adopt an embedded approach or offer the subjects as electives. We found that this actually resulted in very little ethics content as discipline expert faculty – i.e. accounting and marketing professors etc – were uncomfortable with teaching outside their expertise and typically reduced the amount of ethics or dealt with it superficially. From a pedagogical point of view, we found no support for treating ethics different by advocating embedding it versus a standalone course.” Dr Michael John Segon.

The Graduate School’s inaugural Head of School, Professor John Toohey instigated a review of the University’s MBA programs in 2009.

“We had to challenge the position of what we taught in our MBAs and ask ourselves…… Do we actually teach greed?

We concluded that a more proactive approach was required and that we needed to challenge our MBA students – the leaders of the future, around ethics and corporate responsibility issues… to seek a balance between the financial objectives of the firm and the interests of society.”

The Graduate School of Business and Law’s new Head of School Professor Margaret Jackson continued the program reviews and supported the recommendations to include courses in CSR, Governance and Law as compulsory subjects in the MBA programs.

The changes take effect as of semester 1, 2011.