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Australian Social Impact Teacher Wins UN Award

29 June 2016 at 9:25 am
Ellie Cooper
Centre for Social Impact lecturer Dr Fanny Salignac has won the 2016 UNSW Business School award for UN PRME Excellence in Teaching.

Ellie Cooper | 29 June 2016 at 9:25 am


Australian Social Impact Teacher Wins UN Award
29 June 2016 at 9:25 am

Centre for Social Impact lecturer Dr Fanny Salignac has won the 2016 UNSW Business School award for UN PRME Excellence in Teaching.

Uni study RS

Launched in 2007, the UN’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative is the first organised relationship between the United Nations and business schools. Its mission is to transform responsible management education and research.

Salignac, who is also a researcher at the Centre for Social Impact, designed and teaches Creating Social Change: From Innovation to Impact, which is open to all UNSW undergraduate students.

“I’m very honoured to have won the UN PRME Excellence in Teaching Award, it is a great achievement. But even more so, it is an important step towards social change becoming more mainstream,” Salignac told Pro Bono Australia News.

The course aims to strengthen students’ capacity to “make a meaningful contribution to create better social outcomes” by “examining complex social issues from real life that leaders from business, government and civil society grapple with on an everyday basis”.

Since introducing the course at the start of 2014, student intake has increased by 759 per cent (from 22 to 189 students) in just three years.

“This is important as it means that students and today’s young adults have a better understanding of the social world in which they live and are better equipped for addressing social issues. That at the end of the semester, the students’ feel empowered to creating positive social change in their community – that’s what matters,” Salignac said.

Dr Salignac

Dr Fanny Salignac (Source: CSI)

She said while Australia spends a substantial amount of money on social programs, the funding hasn’t changed some of the country’s most entrenched social issues, including place-based disadvantage, Indigenous health or affordable housing.

“These problems are not being resolved, but in some cases they’re even becoming worse. Through teaching this course, I believe that I can contribute to changing this,” she said.

“This kind of course is important because it tells young adults that they have a role to play in changing things. It helps them better understand complex social issues so that they don’t feel as overwhelming.

“How do you address an issue like substance abuse, for example? Where do you start? This is what the course looks at. Not the solution per se, there are many solutions to a problem, but how to go about it, the process we need to follow to think through it and create the most appropriate solution.

“With this course I aim to empower students to create a fairer, more equitable society through finding solutions that mean a better future for them as individuals, as well as the broader community and country as a whole. I designed this course to empower students to become responsible leaders and the social change agents of tomorrow.”

As social impact becomes more mainstream in education, Salignac predicted that the focus would flow on to business practices.

“Traditionally, for-profit businesses have been concerned with mitigating their negative impact – using philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, and, more recently, creating shared value,” she said.

“Some believe, however, that businesses can do more and are a force for good and a solution to societal issues. A focus on social impact allows a shift towards the maximisation of their positive social impact, and a way forward.

“Social impact is different from CSR in that it is not the investment of a corporation’s resources into socially responsible programs but it is embedded in every single activity the firm engages in.

“Having a business purpose that is larger than the products and services the business sells, one that can encompass social issues and contribute to addressing them – this is what embedding social impact means.”

Ellie Cooper  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

Ellie Cooper is a journalist covering the social sector.

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