CEC member JIA Feng integrates sustainability into university curriculum with the course Business, Environment, Learning and Leadership. BELL marked its 10th year with a student research project on water policy.
Ten years ago, JIA Feng introduced into universities of China a new course called “BELL”, which is the acronym of “Business, Environment, Learning and Leadership”. Initiated by WRI, BELL aims to help professors to address environmental issues across the entire spectrum of the curriculum’s core courses in business schools. In 2004, after consulting with experts of BELL from WRI and preparatory works done by professors in China, the first China BELL demonstration course was held in Peking University. Seven years later, China BELL innovative course was promoted and renowned across over 30 universities in China in 2011. Diverse teaching methods were taken by China BELL. Inviting lecturers from government or corporate sectors on topics such as environment public policy making or corporate social responsibility is most commonly applied. By bringing corporate lecturers into the classroom setting, China BELL proves to students that embracing sustainability makes good business sense.
Sharing a research topic: water policy
2011 marks the innovation of China BELL. Five universities from different geographical areas offered optional courses under the same research topic: Public Policy on River Basin Water Environment. The five universities are Beijing Normal University, Hong Kong Open University, East China Normal University, Northeast China Normal University and Harbin Normal University, respectively located in the basin area of the Hai River, the Pearl River, the Huai River and the Songhua River. Students of the five universities are from diverse major background such as environment science, management, law, accounting, applied mathematics and history. Study groups were formed amongst the students and were expected to raise solutions to environmental problems after systematically learning theories such as water environment problem diagnosis and ecological risk assessment, and attending lectures given by local environmental authorities. Taking Beijing Normal University as an example, students were allocated to the following research groups by interests:
- Public participation and environment information disclosure
- Biodiversity Protection in Basin Area
- The role NGOs play in promoting water environment management
- Ecosystem management and policy on nature resource conservation in basin area
As noted by JIA Feng, initiator of this joint innovative course, it will benefit the sustainable development of not only the river areas, but also the whole country, as these groups of young people with common good environment consciousness and knowledge and different academic background become leaders of the society. That is also what China BELL has been pursuing: to bridge the gap between talent cultivating and social needs.