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On April 17, 2021, Dr. Zhirong Duan from Tsinghua School of Economics and Management held a two-day seminar in English titled “Global Citizenship.” Through vivid theoretical explanation and an emphasis on in class interaction, students were taught to think deeply and reflect upon United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) issues, as well as develop critical skills to become a better global citizen and global leader.

This course adopts a hybrid teaching mode, the combination of online and offline teaching, with 30 Tsinghua local students from the Master in Management program in the classroom and 21 CEMS exchange students from 12 CEMS member schools, including Copenhagen Business School, ESADE, HKUST Business School, National University of Singapore, The University of Sydney Business School, The London School of Economics and Political Science, etc. Main topics covered included: History and Progress of SDGs, Individual and Organizational Perspective of Responsible Citizenship, Business Aspirations with SDGs, The Framework’s Challenges and Solutions, and Business Continuity Plan.

The class began with students sharing a goal among the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that they think should be prioritized. Students were grouped in 8 small groups and had discussions regularly between sessions regarding important questions and were encouraged to speak up and share either their own or their group’s perspective throughout class.

Throughout the two-day seminar, Dr. Duan emphasized the importance of the questions “What is leadership? How would you define responsible leadership? And Do you consider yourself a Global Citizen?”, constantly asking students to reflect on these questions.

Dr. Duan spoke of how important it is for everyone as global citizens to do their part to change the system and address sustainable development. Prioritizing goals and understanding the co-existence of “accessibility” and “quality” are a must in building sustainable development. Emphasizing the importance to promote equity, not only just equality. Ultimately, the bigger solution and goal is to change the system with the power of innovation.

At the end of the session, Dr. Duan invited Guest speaker Dr. Yinuo Li, and 4 panelists consisting of different industry professionals from around the world to share their experience and expertise in attempts to help students gain a more international perspective.

Guest speaker Dr. Yinuo Li, founder of ETU Education and former Chief Representative for Gates Foundation Beijing Office, spoke about her experience and understanding of SDG goal #4, Quality Education, stating, “Education serves the goal of self-realization, about freedom and happiness, it is about how education can help individuals achieve the highest potential as a human being... the biggest challenge is that issues in education aren’t caused by education and can’t be solved by education itself. Education is often the manifestation of social issue and it is important to take a more holistic view rather than a pointed solution to fix this problem...” She emphasized that actually “people are much more similar than different.” On a personal level, people are facing the same fears (i.e., fear of not being good enough and fear of failing), which are natural human conditions and commonalities. “Don’t think you are too small to make a change on an issue...Humanity is on a destructive path, and there has to be higher level of collective consciousness to solve these problems.”

The four panelists, Mr. Jilai Peng, Co-founder of this course and employee at SynTao, Dr. Ying Li, IT industry professional, General Manager at C&M Information Technologies, Dr. Peiyuan Guo, Chairman of SynTao Finance, co-founder and General Manager of SynTao, and Ms. Chyna Li, Human Resources Director for SAP Greater China, each spoke briefly of their experience working on SDG in relation to China and then opened up the discussion for in class questions. The seminar concluded with each panelist giving a different word to summarize SDG, concluding with four main words “togetherness”, “responsibility”, “participation” and “sustainability”, and a warm round of applause from students.

Direct Quotes:

Mr. Jilai Peng

ONE WORD: Togetherness

“Business continuity is how ready you or your company is at the current state. It is important to use BC to respond and recover from emergencies and crisis, as it helps with crisis management from different levels, to ensure smooth communication from the top level to the bottom… To prevent destruction, and quickly rebuild and recover business during a crisis, you need to design procedure to follow, and need to follow these procedures. The plan needs to be tested and evaluated constantly, as well providing training for employees to maintain this model.”

Dr. Ying Li

ONE WORD: Participation

“We need to take a long view, not a short view... when looking at the short view we see the problem with globalization now, but global history proves that when there is better communication and global exchange we succeed even more as a society.”

“Leadership matters… everyone one of us is a leader, and we need to work together for the global society to move forward, this can’t be achieved without innovation and technology.”

Dr. Peiyuan Guo

ONE WORD: Responsibility

“We [currently] are only solving issues where we see a problem, the limitations are that we are not solving the root and source of problem…thus, responsible investment is an important aspect for corporate social responsibility.”

“SDG is about long-term values. Businesses need to identify with such values. We [as people] need to work on balancing values and value that can make money and make a difference in sustainable development and sustainable finance (ESG).”

“Working on corporate social responsibility is the ultimate goal for sustainable finance (ESG) and green finance…”

Ms. Chyna Li

ONE WORD: Sustainability

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