Beyond ‘Innocents Abroad’: Reflecting on Sustainability Issues During International Study Trips
H. Reilly, Anne
McGrath, Mary Ann Pauline
With ecosystems and populations in many regions threatened by rapid development, sustainability is a critical component for businesses in mature markets and emerging economies alike. The International Association of Jesuit Business Schools notes that global sustainability involves a broad set of interconnected issues ranging from environmental preservation to social justice to desirable production and consumption patterns. Jesuit business schools are uniquely positioned to address sustainability issues with their focus on teaching managerial content in tandem with corporate social responsibility. Further, the Ignatian Pedagogy Paradigm of experience, reflection, and action would suggest that business students may benefit from reflective observation in support of learning about sustainability.In this paper, we examine the international study trip as an opportunity for students to learn about sustainability, with results suggesting that student understanding about the broad sustainability domain may be enhanced through the study abroad experience. We discuss how two classes of primarily American MBA students traveling to emerging markets (one class to Santiago, Chile and one class to Johannesburg, South Africa) were able to connect local business practices with economic and social as well as environmental sustainability issues, enhancing both student engagement and learning outcomes. Further, these students’ sustainability experiences while in an unfamiliar environment provided the opportunity to apply the potentially transformative experience, reflection, and action components of the Ignatian Pedagogy Paradigm. Compared to similar graduate business students enrolled in regular classes, we argue that these students discerned deeper connections with the economic, social, and environmental issues of sustainability.