The UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) has been awarded a place on the 2019 Corporate Knights Better World MBA Ranking Top 40. Photo: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

DURBAN - The UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) has been awarded a place on the 2019 Corporate Knights Better World MBA Ranking Top 40 - making it the only business school on the continent to achieve this status.

The Better World MBA Ranking aims to identify and rank business schools around the world that seek to equip graduates with the skills and attitudes to change the world for the better. In first place for the second year in a row, is Warwick University Business School in the UK. Others in the Top 10 include the MIT Sloan School of Management in the USA and Griffith Business School in Australia. The UCT GSB is ranked at 40.

"As the climate emergency alarm bell sounds and social tensions threaten to unravel the compact on which capitalism depends, The Better World Business Schools are at the forefront of a sea change in business education focused on preparing tomorrow’s business leaders to be a force for good," said Toby Heaps, Chief Executive of Corporate Knights.

The research process uncovered a noticeable uptick in published academic research related to sustainability from business school faculty. New academic journals devoted to sustainability and the climate crisis are also on the rise. Core and elective courses in business schools are integrating more sustainability topics into their subject material. These developments are indicative of a demand from students to train for meaningful work in the business sector, as well as demand from employers to help solve the pressing social and environmental problems that threaten the future of businesses.

UCT GSB interim director, associate professor Kosheek Sewchurran said the business school is delighted by the announcement.

Sewchurran said, "It is an endorsement of all that we do to be recognised in this way,” he said. “Our teaching, learning and research is directed towards building a more economically prosperous, more equitable, and more integrated continent – and indeed world". 

Sewchurran added that the UCT GSB was one of the first business schools globally to make social innovation a mandatory part of the MBA curriculum and now boasts the largest academic body of social innovation and related fields, including impact investing, in Africa. The MBA curriculum also emphasises ethics, character development, and values-based leadership and, in 2020, will add five new specialisation streams including one in leadership and change and another in innovation and entrepreneurship.

To determine the ranking, Corporate Knights evaluated 146 business schools (up from 141 in 2018), including all of the 2018 Financial Times top 100 MBA programmes, every programme that made the Top 40 in the Corporate Knights Better World MBA Ranking in 2019, and select business programmes accredited by AMBA, AACSB or EQUIS, and Principles for Responsible Management Education signatories that responded to their outreach.

From this pool, programmes are evaluated across five key performance indicators: the number of sustainability-focused articles in peer-reviewed journals and citations (30 percent and 20 percent respectively), the number of core courses that incorporate sustainable development topics (30 percent), research institutes and centres devoted to sustainable development issues (10 percent) and faculty gender and racial diversity in the business school (5 percent each).

Sewchurran said that as part of its commitment towards embedding sustainability into its teaching and research, the UCT GSB has in the past decade founded specialist centres like the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Allan Gray Centre for Values-based Leadership, the Power Futures Lab, and the GSB Solution Space, a business incubator which is located both on the Waterfront campus and in the community of Philippi, 30 km away. The school is also a signatory of the UN’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) and is one of less than 40 schools out of more than 600 that have been selected to be a PRME champion.

In addition, the UCT GSB is one of only three business schools in Africa to receive triple-crown accreditation from the AMBA (Association of MBAs); EQUIS (from the European Foundation of Management Education); and AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools.

"The UCT GSB is committed to raising the profile of emerging market business schools as centres of excellence and thought leaders and being recognised and benchmarked globally in this way helps us to achieve this. It is good for us, good for South Africa and ultimately good for our continent," concluded Sewchurran. 

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