From the Dean
Uniting for global good
In the last three years, Zambia’s Southern Province has seen malaria-related deaths drop by 97 percent. This was made possible by the partnership of PATH, a global health nonprofit; Tableau, a data analytics company; and the Zambian Ministry of Health. These three entities have joined forces to eradicate malaria in Zambia by 2021.
This significant drop in deaths shows what can happen when companies use their core competencies to address global problems. Tableau is not a malaria expert, but they do know how to leverage their data visualization software to prevent future outbreaks.
Public and private partnerships have been catalyzed by a United Nations Global Compact initiative called Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME).
Seattle Pacific University was the first northwest university to sign at the inception of PRME in 2007 and is currently one of only five PRME Champion schools in the nation. As a partnership between the United Nations and management-related higher education institutions, PRME aims to reach 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030. The goals focus on human dignity, environmental sustainability, and global prosperity, and align well with our Christian faith and mission to “advance human flourishing.”
As a Champion school, SBGE contributes to the best practices, curriculum development, research, and global impact of PRME. I know that many of you are doing important work toward sustainable development goals in the public and private sectors. It is an exciting time, as SDGs help organizations understand how their strengths create shared value in the world.
Ross Stewart, dean
School of Business, Government, and Economics
Teaching PRME at SPU
What follows is an interview with Dr. Geri Mason, associate professor of economics, who is the faculty member in charge of SBGE’s work with PRME.
Why are sustainable development goals and the Principles of Responsible Management Education initiative important?
If we are ever going to make any progress on poverty and global development, companies have to get involved. PRME encourages their involvement. Businesses control trillions of dollars. Plus, they cause a lot of the problems — not all of the problems, but most of them. (Just think of how much pollution factories create.) There is no way that NGOs can fulfill the sustainable development goals by 2030 if businesses are against them.
Developed countries have been thinking about these things for a long time. We arrived at a point in our economy where we have the luxury to think about things like zero hunger, gender equality, and responsible consumption and production. The SDGs put these ideas on a global scale, for all countries. It does not work for the United States to have clean air if Canada doesn’t. Ultimately, we all affect each other. The SDGs contribute a unified set of goals for the whole world.
Why did SPU decided to become a PRME Champion school?
PRME gave us a globally recognized way to talk about what we were already doing at SPU. It aligns with our mission to “advance human flourishing” through business, government, and civil society. In order to create leaders who carry out this mission, graduates need to take the SDGs with them to the public and private sectors.
How has PRME shaped your research?
I have researched how to integrate a better understanding of poverty in courses and found that you need to examine more than just income measures. Students need to look at the data and some kind of case study or simulation to grasp the complexities of poverty.
How do you teach about PRME and SDGs in the classroom?
I push students to think about mainstream market solutions to poverty, such as Selco in India. Selco sells small solar panels to the rural poor so they can light their homes at night and continue their work hours. I can pick any SDG, such as clean water, and ask how a business could achieve that. Dr. Randy Beavers, assistant professor of finance, is doing a great job of connecting current and past events to the SDGs in his macroeconomics course. When his class talked about clean water, he linked it to recent events in the U.S. involving water scarcity and drought.
I also talk a lot about the significant role we play as consumers. Every dollar we spend is a vote. If everyone buys the products of responsible companies, those companies are going to succeed, and that’s going to send a signal to other businesses. Consumers have a lot of power.
Alumni: Where are they now?
We caught up with three alums who have done important work on sustainable development goals.
Neal Myrick ’88
Director of Social Impact and Head of Tableau Foundation
BA in Communication, Seattle Pacific University
Neal Myrick can easily give you data on the Tableau Foundation that is fresher than most produce in the grocery store. Instead of an annual report, the data visualization giant’s foundation produces a living annual report, which is updated weekly using its product.
“We wanted to show that we could be transparent and timely with our data,” says Neal, who is the head of the Tableau Foundation. “The old model of producing a printed annual report can be changed.”
The foundation uses the SDGs to guide both its grantmaking and discussions with employees and partners about philanthropic priorities.
While the foundation has awarded $22 million in grants, its niche is in using data to fight problems, such as in the Visualize No Malaria campaign.
“We believe that by helping people see and understand the data, we are helping to unlock the ingenuity that lives inside of them to address their communities’ problems,” Neal says.
Josh Van Eaton ’97
Senior Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice; Federal Employee of the Year
BA in Business Administration, Seattle Pacific University; JD, Baylor University
While the world was reading headlines about the Volkswagen emissions scandal, Josh Van Eaton was in the courtroom.
Josh was the lead Department of Justice attorney in the civil case against Volkswagen for deliberately cheating greenhouse gas emissions tests and violating the federal Clean Air Act (CAA). He and his team negotiated the biggest CAA settlement in U.S. history for nearly $17.5 billion, including nearly $3 billion to fund programs to remediate the environmental harm caused by the excess emissions.
“One of the most challenging things about this particular case was the sheer number of stakeholders involved in the resolution,” Josh says. “You had nearly every state and state attorney general filing suits, and thousands of private plaintiffs.”
Josh remembers studying the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster as a business student at SPU, and says that “Dieselgate” will be a very different type of case study.
“This wasn’t an accident,” Josh says. “You’re talking about company culture and individuals who each have to make a personal and intentional choice to do the right thing.”
Laura Willis Anderson ’11
Senior Program Assistant of Global Security, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (former Project Manager of Global Policy and Advocacy)
BA in Business Administration, Seattle Pacific University
Did you know that 86 percent of children are vaccinated globally? Part of Laura Willis Anderson’s work as a project manager at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was helping to spread good news. Her work at the foundation aligned mostly with the third sustainable development goal to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all.” Laura especially liked working on the annual letter from Bill and Melinda. “While I wasn’t on the ground administering vaccines,” Laura says, “I got to let the public know about the great work being done by partner NGOs every day.” Laura just recently started a new role with the foundation in Global Security, and is looking forward to “keeping our people safe and equipped as they are doing risky work on the ground.”
Faith & Co: Business on Purpose
SBGE is excited to be approaching the launch of our film series and online course, now called Faith & Co. In this project, we aim to affirm business as a calling and inspire viewers to consider ways in which their work could be in closer alignment with the redemptive arc of the gospel story.
Filming was done across the U.S. and in Ethiopia, Mexico, and Vietnam. We feature stories and interviews with business leaders across a wide spectrum of industries including technology, health care, specialty retail, and property development.
In addition to the films, which will be released in March 2018, a small group curriculum and open online course will be available in mid-April.
To learn more or sign up for the Faith & Co. mailing list, please visit faithand.co.
Sorting Garbage for Sustainability
While a senior and assistant to the Seattle Pacific campus sustainability coordinator, Adrienne Elliott compiled and produced the SPU 2015–16 Sustainability Progress Report. The report provides key information SPU uses in its mission to be carbon-neutral — meaning any carbon dioxide emissions are offset by planting trees or other practices — by 2036. Read the full article from Response magazine to find what Adrienne discovered.
New Associate Director of Undergraduate Programs
SBGE is pleased to welcome Jake Carlson to our staff. Jake studied counseling during his time as an undergraduate student, prior to working with at-risk youth in Portland, and then served as an associate pastor at Ballard Church before joining SBGE in November. He is a recent graduate of Seattle Pacific Seminary, where he worked formally with SPU students across campus in both curricular and co-curricular capacities.
Walls Distinguished Speaker Series Welcomes Nancy Lurker
The annual Burton and Ralene Walls Distinguished Speaker Series Luncheon will feature Nancy Lurker, president and CEO of pSivida, on Tuesday, March 6, 2018. Ms. Lurker has more than 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and pharmaceutical services industries. Prior to joining pSivida, she was president and CEO at PDI, a leading commercialization and contract sales company that commercialized hundreds of pharmaceutical drugs, devices, and diagnostic tests in collaboration with its business partners. This is our 17th year of introducing outstanding business leaders to our students.