Business But Better: How Seattle U Leaders Are Paving The Way Forward

Posted by Albers Schools of Business and Economics on Wednesday, April 26, 2023 at 10:00 AM PDT

3 people talking at Seattle UToday’s business and management schools are among the most influential actors in the world, as they shape the skills and mindset of future leaders. By engaging these key academic institutions, the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) equip business students with the understanding and ability to deliver meaningful change and impact. PRME is a United Nations-supported initiative founded in 2007, and Seattle University’s Albers School of Business and Economics has long been committed to it, as reflected in its values:

  • Honesty and integrity—in everything we do
  • Academic excellence—in teaching, scholarship, and service
  • Diversity and Inclusion —fostering a welcoming and open environment for all, treating others with respect, and collaborating toward a shared vision
  • Jesuit mission—growth in persons, education for leadership, and service and commitment to justice that affirms the rights and dignity of all stakeholders

The Albers School develops ethical, inclusive, and innovative business leaders who lead and manage for the good of their organization, society, and the planet, and PRME participation aids focus and accountability to achieve just that.

The Six Principles

In order to create a framework through which current and future leaders can develop and grow, PRME is organized into six foundational principles that guide overarching practices. 

Principle 1 - Purpose: We will develop the capabilities of students to be future generators of sustainable value for business and society at large and to work for an inclusive and sustainable global economy.

Principle 2 - Values: We will incorporate into our academic activities, curricula, and organisational practices the values of global social responsibility as portrayed in international initiatives such as the United Nations Global Compact.

Principle 3 - Method: We will create educational frameworks, materials, processes and environments that enable effective learning experiences for responsible leadership.

Principle 4 - Research: We will engage in conceptual and empirical research that advances our understanding about the role, dynamics, and impact of corporations in the creation of sustainable social, environmental and economic value.

Principle 5 - Partnership: We will interact with managers of business corporations to extend our knowledge of their challenges in meeting social and environmental responsibilities and to explore jointly effective approaches to meeting these challenges.

Principle 6 - Dialogue: We will facilitate and support dialog and debate among educators, students, business, government, consumers, media, civil society organizations and other interested groups and stakeholders on critical issues related to global social responsibility and sustainability.

By working through the six principles, Albers is able to offer students a transformative business and management education aligned with a global learning community.

Business Education With Purpose, Values, and Method

Embodying the first three principles, ethics and sustainability are integrated across the Albers curriculums.

Undergraduates are required to take a full-quarter course in business ethics entitled Ethical Reasoning in Business, taught by a set of business ethicists on the Albers faculty. Undergraduate programs each involve at least one ethics-related topic, integrating that material across majors, to ensure that students have a critical understanding of the ethical tenets that underlie the unique disciplines.

Further still, graduate students complete significant coursework in ethics, and the Albers School’s Center for Business Ethics, launched in 2011, continues to serve as a hub of activities related to business ethics and corporate responsibility. In previous years, approximately 100-course sections in the Albers School benefited from over 50 different guest speakers during Ethics Week. These speakers represented organizations such as Starbucks, the Seattle Port Authority, Microsoft, the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, Boeing, Costco, REI, Amazon, and Premera.

Application of these first three principles extends to related extra-curricular activities as well. 

Alpha Kappa Psi (AKPsi) business fraternity is the largest student business organization on Seattle University’s campus. The mission of AKPsi is to develop co-ed fraternity members and promote business education, including the role business plays in the community. To this end, the fraternity has engaged in a number of service events in the Seattle area, such as making cards for the Seattle Children’s Hospital, organizing a virtual garage sale for Mary’s Place (a nonprofit organization that provides safe, inclusive shelter and services for women, children, and families on their journey out of homelessness), volunteering at on-site vaccination locations for Washington state, and organizing a BIPOC Experience Panel.

Through these activities, the club enables leadership formation and the opportunity to practice skills acquired in business courses in support of the community.

Beta Alpha Psi (BAP) is the international honor society for financial information students and professionals. For over 20 years, Seattle University’s Delta Eta chapter of BAP (composed of accounting, finance, and business analytics students) has attained Superior Chapter status. Part of this recognition is due to BAP’s ongoing belief in stewardship, striving to ensure that we leave our families, communities, companies, teams, and world better than when we started. Per chapter bylaws, each student member of BAP is required to complete six to eight hours of community service, per quarter, to maintain active status.

Chapter events traditionally include VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), Adopt-A-Street neighborhood cleanup (in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood), meal preparation at Lifelong AIDS Alliance, volunteer tutoring for introductory accounting courses, collecting and bundling books for local elementary schools (in collaboration with KPMG), collecting wellness supplies and toys for local hospitals, and providing personal time to act as support staff for various other SU-sponsored charitable events. During the last year and a half of COVID, and due to the necessary social distancing measures, students spent the majority of their volunteer time hand-crafting support cards for patients at local hospitals and residents at neighboring nursing homes. Students also helped raise funds for a newly endowed accounting scholarship fund.

Getting involved with this type of community engagement not only upholds Albers’ shared values, but also helps students develop stronger relationships with faculty, peers, and the community, as well as dismantle preconceived stereotypes of the world around them. 

Engaging In Partnership And Dialogue With The Broader Community

As seen above, Albers’ faculty and students are heavily involved in making a significant contribution to the surrounding community.

Throughout the year, staff and faculty are encouraged to volunteer at the Sundborg Center for Community Engagement, established with the aim of connecting classroom, campus, and community to promote a more just and humane world. Among its many accomplishments in the last year, 446 SU students engaged in the community as service learners, academic mentors, and student leaders; 5,800 hours of early education support were provided to preschool classrooms, and $85,000 of supplies were distributed to families during the pandemic.

Beyond campus programming and non-profits, Albers also sponsors a program for high school students. Currently in its nineteenth year, the Summer Business Institute (SBI) enables high school students of African American, Latino/Hispanic, Native American Indigenous, and Pacific Islander heritages to experience business school for a week in June. A $50 fee is available to qualified participants, who earn three college credits upon completion. The program features lectures by Albers faculty, team projects, and networking. In the last five years, 165 students have participated in SBI.

Today's youth will be the leaders tackling the challenges of tomorrow, and the Albers School seeks to equip them with the tools and skills they need to make a positive impact on a constantly changing world.

Passion For Progress

The  Albers School of Business & Economics is an institution dedicated to the promotion and advancement of business leadership in the Seattle area, focusing on values-based education and real-world experiential learning.

Student initiatives are influential drivers of change, and all of these efforts help to enrich learning and champion the responsibility of businesses to create a better community and society. As an institution of higher learning involved in the education of current and future managers, we are proud to reaffirm our pledge to adhere to the six Principles of Responsible Management Education, reporting on progress to all our stakeholders, and exchanging effective practices with other academic institutions. 

We hope you’ll join us on this exciting journey.