Thursday, December 17, 2009
Dial M for mission.
We often get asked about how we got into this strange academic world, why we do work in responsible business, and, well, isn't it about time we got ourselves a proper job? Sometimes our answers are glib but with a touch of truth about them ... we like getting up late, we can wear what we want, it's cool to be able to do pretty much exactly what you want, whenever you want. Yes, the freedoms are pretty great, we have to say (though not everyone thinks that our sartorial choices should be quite so free).
But truth be told we also have a bit of a mission ... not a big capital M Mission to change the world, to reveal the truth to the great unwashed, or to convert all those immoral business people into saintly Crane and Matten disciples. OK, so we do like to occasionally come over all guru-like, but usually we can;t keep a straight face long enough. Who would believe that we really have all the answers? We have trouble enough just getting the questions right. But perhaps we do have a smaller, more modest mission of a sort. One that's something like making a difference to how people think about responsible business, whether they are students, researchers, practitioners, or just the random people that bump into our blog through the magic of google. Being a university professor gives you lots of opportunity to do this, and it's probably this more than anything that get's us out of bed in the morning. Either that or the thought of breakfast. Or a girlfriend who really does have a proper job. It's certainly not the money.
Anyway, you're probably wondering, why are Crane and Matten getting all existential on us today? Why the sudden need to talk about the ... ahem .... "mission". Is it the end of year reckoning getting the better of them, the need to put things in place, start listing achievements, and work out where it all went right/wrong (delete as appropriate). Maybe. But it's also because we just seem to be getting asked a lot recently. So to put you in the mood too, check out Andy's recent interview by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). He talks about what got him started researching in this field, what students are looking for now, what the big trends are, and what gets him excited about his job (besides getting to wear the funny hat at graduation ceremonies, and the big end of year bonuses of course).
AASHE is an association of colleges and universities that are working to create a sustainable future. Their mission "is to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation." It sounds a bit more impressive than ours, so we were happy to chat with them about what we were up to in our research and teaching. We're not sure it's going to empower anyone, at least not without providing a whole lot of other tools and resources that organizations like AASHE typically try and deliver. But it might get them thinking. You can't ask for more than that.
Oh OK, you can. Just don't ask us for more than that. At least not before noon.
Photo by Martin Kingsley. Reproduced under Creative Commons license