Haslam Students Show Commitment to Socially Responsible Business Practices at PRME Global Forum

August 3, 2023

Discussions around ethical and ecological business practices are especially relevant in today’s world. In June, two students from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business shared their perspectives on the topic by participating in the 11th edition of the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) Global Forum. Julian Serrano, senior supply chain management major, and Kelley Hunt (HCB, ‘23), who majored in business analytics, were among 11 students from around the world chosen to engage faculty on responsible management education at the New York City event. Serrano and Hunt also represented the Conscious Capitalism social movement and Marketplace Simulations, a business education software company.

PRME is a voluntary United Nations (UN)-supported initiative working to ensure educational institutions prepare tomorrow’s business leaders to solve environmental and social challenges in addition to generating profit. The forum, hosted by Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business, was part of PRME’s Responsible Management Education Week. Educators, professionals and students from across the globe gathered to discuss the future of responsible business and management education.

Emphasizing the Student Perspective

While the PRME Global Forum typically attracts mostly business faculty and professionals, organizers ensured student viewpoints would also be represented by enlisting Ernie Cadotte, founder of Marketplace Simulations and Emeritus Professor of Innovative Learning at Haslam, and Bindu Agrawal, advisor to Marketplace Simulations, to recruit a cohort of students from diverse cultural backgrounds.

To earn a spot on the trip, students competed in Marketplace Simulations’ Conscious Capitalism game, in which players act as executive teams working to build an ethical, sustainable and environmentally conscious business. Cadotte and Agrawal also interviewed the candidates about their understanding and involvement in issues of societal impact.

“We wanted smart, articulate, thoughtful students who could share their experience, insight and learnings from playing the game, and who also were invested in social responsibility as a way of life,” Cadotte says. “We thought that the argument for Conscious Capitalism — both the movement and the simulation — would have more value if it came from students who spoke from their hearts rather than from a script.”

Dedication to Responsible Business Management and Education

The selected students, along with Cadotte, Agrawal and three other faculty coaches from around the world, spent three days at the PRME Global Forum, listening to speakers, attending programs and immersing themselves in PRME’s sustainability priorities and action plans. In addition, the students had ample opportunities to network, engaging with educators to offer their perspectives and insights around responsible management pedagogy. Cadotte says the group quickly formed a close bond, which motivated the leaders in ways they had not anticipated.

“We became very attached to the students and faculty coaches,” he says. “We wanted to create the very best possible learning experience for the students, one that would last them a lifetime.”

On the second day of the forum, the 11 students led a 45-minute Conscious Capitalism workshop, providing a personalized tour of the simulation and enabling participants to interact with its features. Cadotte, who created the teaching methodology behind the Marketplace Simulations business games, says forum attendees were impressed with the students’ knowledge and enthusiasm.

“The students rose to the challenge and delivered a world-class performance — professional, engaging, interactive, informative, inspiring and fun,” he says. “This type of learning experience is exactly what every educator strives for. We could not have been more pleased with the results.”

For the 11 students, the forum provided motivation to deepen their dedication to responsible business practices.

Julian Serrano, Ernie Cadotte and Kelley Hunt pose outside in front of the Fordham University sign

L-R: Julian Serrano, Ernie Cadotte, Kelley Hunt

“It was incredibly inspiring to witness the collective commitment to sustainability, ethics and social responsibility in the business world, which resonated deeply with my own values and aspirations,” Serrano says. “The insights gained and the perspectives shared will undoubtedly shape my approach to responsible management practices going forward.”

Hunt agrees. “This experience allowed me to meet and learn from so many insightful people who want to transform the world through sustainable [and] responsible management, and [who] are implementing changes today for a better tomorrow,” she says. “I am proud to be part of this movement, and I hope to carry this knowledge with me throughout my career in the business world.”

Cadotte says the event exceeded all expectations and moved the participants deeply. “When we gave our final reflections, there was not a dry eye among us. In fact, we all had trouble saying how we felt. I would not trade this experience for anything.”


Stacy Estep, writer/publicist, sestep3@utk.edu