ESG has turned from a buzzword into pretty much a household name over the past several years. However much and often the term is being used in the media it is crucial to understand the processes behind ESG thoroughly to be able to form a judgment about it. In other words, one needs to see how it works on-ground. Last week, the SAS Excellence Track students attended the 3/7 Educational Module at the Ural Federal University (Ekaterinburg). The module was centered around Environmental, social, and corporate governance, sustainable development, and their implications for the business world – both locally and at a global scale. Within the module, the students not only took a closer look at the connection between ESG and the 17 UN SDGs, but also analyzed dilemmas and issues related to the practical implementation of ESG programs, including such matters as financial and legal feasibility of ESG projects.
The core goal of the module was to give the students an on-ground understanding of how ESG and Corporate Social Responsibility work in real companies: under the supervision of the Ural Federal University specialists, they looked at real business plans and companies. Being able to view an issue from a broader lens and take into account a multitude of factors is something our Excellence Track are pretty much used to doing within their study process. It is particularly empowering to actually see what influences the decision-making process in the vibrant environment of the business world and communicate with individuals directly involved in this decision-making. That is why the module included various site visits that helped the students get acquainted with the ESG processes.
As a result of the module, our Excellence Track students got a clear understanding of the ways ESG is evaluated in Russian and foreign expertise and saw sustainability built up in practice alongside the 17 UN SDGs. The module was also particularly valuable in terms of gaining new teamwork skills and learning to see challenges as opportunities.
About the Excellence Track program
Excellence Track is a relatively new platform at SAS that allows students to go an extra mile in their studies, as well as their personal and intellectual development. The SAS Excellence Track students create and design projects independently. Group projects are done by pairs and more students when required.
The current Excellence Track cohort consists of 13 students that were divided into two subtracks: Educators and Scholars. The main task of the Educators is to be trained in designing elective courses to be taught at SAS or in different institutions and offer expertise in designing core courses at SAS. The Scholars propose a research project that is feasible to be done on the undergraduate level and implement the SAS journal design. The SAS Excellence Track implies honing one’s academic, personal, and research skills. In addition to their classes and projects, during the quarter break, students undergo an extra block of classes and have a chance to learn from distinguished experts and professors outside of Siberia. Many of the ET students serve as moderators during flagship events and conferences both within and beyond SAS.