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All Gathering Momentum – The GRLI concludes a successful AGM in Ireland


The Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative held its annual All Gathering Momentum (AGM) at the Kemmy Business School in Limerick, Ireland on 16 to 21 October this year.

The AGM brought together 66 friends, partners and colleagues of the GRLI for a packed agenda in which it discussed globally responsible leadership around a theme of “Common Good, Common Ground”, reported on many of its initiatives and progressed all of them with new ideas and concrete action steps.

Explains John North, managing director of the GRLI:

The purpose of the All Gathering Momentum meeting – which we previously called General Assembly meetings – is to create an environment in which Partners, Associates and invited guests of the GRLI may connect and reconnect with each other and the vision and mission of the GRLI. We also use the opportunity to inform, update and engage in key activities and opportunities to catalyse Global Responsibility and, lastly, we take the opportunity to review the contexts in which we operate and in which we develop and practice being globally responsible.

Common Good, Common Ground

While the 2016 AGM formally kicked off on the morning of 17 October, attendees arrived prepared for the discussions after having received a selection of pre-reading material, including the 2005 GRLI Call for Engagement, the 2008 Call for Action, and background on Whole Person Learning, which was used during the various brainstorming sessions.

Prior to the meeting, members of the GRLI and several of the PRME Champions present at the AGM met to check on the progress of projects and clusters that had emerged from the first PRME meeting in New York.

The meeting built on the momentum sustained through two webinars and the first face-to-face meeting in New York, which was held in June.  Attendees included Kemmy Business School, Case Western Reserve University, Babson College, Monash University, Kedge Business School, the University of Guelph, Bettys and Taylors Group, the University of Stellenbosch and the Oasis School of Human Relations.

Attendees were welcomed on behalf of the Kemmy Business School by Sheila Killian, while Claire Maxwell facilitated an interactive introduction session for participants to locate themselves in the present space and learn more about the other participants. John North concluded the welcome session with a summary of the GRLI vision and mission and a re-introduction to the GRLI Guiding Principles.

“We set the scene for the three days of intense discussions and shared learning by using the theme ‘Common Good, Common Ground’. This discussion topic used the idea of place as a unifying and dividing concept, ” says John.

During the first day participants were invited to consider ideas of belonging, with probing questions such as ‘What does it mean to belong to a place?’, ‘What does it mean to be excluded?’, ‘In what sense can a place belong to a particular group of people?’, ‘What does that tell us about public and private good?’, ‘In the context of a global crisis of displacement, who owns the earth, and what it contains?’.

Many of the day’s discussions used the Whole Person facilitation approach and were designed to emphasise the GRLI’s guiding principles. Discussions allowed for work on and with the three levels of awareness and action, namely Me, We and All of Us.

The packed morning agenda also included a meeting of the GRLI Council of Partners, during which two new board members-elect – Mary Godfrey and Robert Widing – were welcomed. The meeting also reflected on the significance of the strategic Memorandum of Understanding signed between the GRLI and the PRME Champions.


A timeline of Responsible Leadership

In another interactive session on day one, Julia Christensen-Hughes held an interactive panel discussion on the history and development of Responsible Leadership, where partner representatives narrated the timeline from 2000 to the present day by sharing their insights and experiences from various periods.

In presenting the timeline, Julia was joined by Peggy Cunningham and Anders Aspling (2000 – 2006), Nick Ellerby and Marielle Heijltjes (2007 – 2010), Jonas Haertle and Katrin Muff (2011 – 2014) and John North and Mary Godfrey (2015 – 2016).

The timeline discussion and earlier discussions on the theme of “Common Good, Common Ground” set the scene for the project marketplace and learning journeys that wrapped up the first day’s proceedings. The project marketplace invited participants to sumbit proposals and proposal updates and invite collaboration from other participants.


The Migrant, the Nomad and the Artefact

Three interlocking learning journeys were held on the first day, with the titles of Migrant, Nomad and Artefact. These, which were held off campus, provided an opportunity to reflect on the AGM theme through three diverse lenses.

The Migrant learning journey centered on the experience of a particular migrant group who are settling in Ireland. This focused on the experience of Lylian Fotabong from Cameroon and explored ideas of culture, contribution and sanctuary.

The Nomad learning journey focused on the experiences and culture of Irish Travellers, an Irish nomadic group with a distinct culture, and different connections between place and home. This journey explored ideas of belonging, separateness and place.

The Artefact learning journey centred on historical treasures, some of which are Irish and are locally valued, but others of which originate in a particular place but are celebrated in another. This journey explored ideas of curation, sharing and protection of the commons.


Bridging horizons

The second day of the AGM started in a vibrant fashion with a participative workshop with Michael ‘RAS Mikey’ Courtney.

Titled ‘Bridging Horizons’, the workshop centred on rhythmic, vocal, and bodily awareness, where RAS Mikey lead the group on an expressive journey into the ‘present’ and allowed the group to feel more harmoniously connected to themselves, others, and their environment. RAS Mikey is a guest lecturer at the University of Limerick, where he is continuing his research and development of Ethio-Modern Dance.

The second day of the AGM included a lunchtime concert at the World Music Academy, while the various project spaces continued throughout the day in participative workshops and feedback sessions. These included:


COMMIT – Next generation perspectives on management education

COMMIT reported on their progress since the previous AGM, which included their co-facilitation of the Oikos Summer School 2016 in September in Tbilisi in Georgia and their design and prototyping of sessions on leadership, sustainability, entrepreneurship and co-creating participative learning. In this process they were mentored by Chris Taylor from Oasis, using Whole Person Learning.


50+20 – Management Education for the World

Participants discussed the next step in this initiative, which calls for a rapid scaling of the programme. Various scaling projects were discussed, which are now more viable thanks to the creation of the Mission Possible Foundation and the allocation of a dedicated resource to the project in the form of Carlo Giardinetti of the Business School Lausanne.


AIM2Flourish – A global student-led discovery of business for good

Many ambitious and challenging ideas were discussed in this session, which centred around the scaling of Aim2Flourish. Discussions included the possibility of incorporating Aim2Flourish into the new Global Compact to create a Global Solutions Platform, which would include SuLiTest, the BSL Carl, Eth Word, BSL’s Capstone Project and the PRME’s SDGs-Leadership Ready Certification.


CARL – Competency Assessment for Responsible Leadership

Attendees were introduced to CARL at the 2016 AGM. CARL is an assessment test based on a deductive attempt of defining responsible leadership. It is based on a comprehensive review of the latest academic literature on the topic, including of the GRLI publications and research on the topic.


The Eth Word

Participants at the AGM was also introduced to The Eth Word. The Eth Word is helping rethink the role of business by creating, sharing and provoking new conversations about business and purpose. The unbusiness-like conversations of The Eth Word invites business leaders to talk about personal values, how much of themselves they bring to the workplace, and how this shapes business culture and behaviour.


Quantum Leadership – Case Western University

Quantum Leadership is a multi-year research project that takes an evidence-based approach to responsible leadership by emphasising relational antecedents. Attendees to the AGM were introduced to its “Practices of connectedness”, which instil a new awareness of how one’s attitudes and actions impact others and all life on earth. Such awareness complements the analytic business case for pursuing economic prosperity while contributing to a healthy environment and improving wellbeing.


SuLiTest – the world’s first online sustainable literacy test

SuLiTest was launched this year at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi, Kenya, and participants at the AGM discussed an aggressive development programme, which will include a major campaign to canvass more global and national questions on sustainability, the introduction of an individual certification programme and new features for specific industries and professions.


Gap Frame Week – BSL

This session discussed the unique learning model created by the Business School Lausanne. The model focusses on issue-centred learning, bringing in stakeholders from all sectors to work for an entire week alternatively on a selected number of globally relevant environmental, societal, economic and governance issues. The model uses a combination of the IDEO and Collaboratory methodology in a co-creative process.


Take one step – Monash University

This session introduced attendees to an online platform  created by Monash University, which uses social media to engage students in sustainability by asking them to pledge one ‘step’ or action for a more sustainable world. Monash reported that at the end of six weeks, 213 accounts were created by students and some staff, with approximately 90 ‘steps’ or pledges for action being committed to.

Various other items were also discussed at the AGM, including Partners for Possibility, an innovative leadership development programme in which a business leader and school principal are paired for a year-long programme of co-action and co-learning.

Also discussed was UCL Louvain’s new executive programme and the Deans as Agents of Change/Innovation Cohort. The UCL Louvain School of Management launched a new executive programme in business ethics and compliance management, and the Deans as Agent of Change/Innovation Cohort reported on their initiatives since their formation as part of the 50+20 Vision.


GRLI’s Next Call and Alliance for Global Responsibility in Education

The closing discussion of the AGM centrred around the potential and possible process to develop and issue a next call by the GRLI. The call would build on previous calls, including the GRLI’s founding “Call for Engagement”, which remains its guiding document.

Says John North: “It was acknowledged that GRLI provides a safe space for the Partners and Associates involved, but as a movement it is called to help catalyse and ensure a multitude of similar ‘safe spaces’ around the globe.

“As a collaborative inquiry into what it means to act and lead in a globally responsible way, the time is ripe to move our call and work ‘beyond traditional management education models’, that is inclusive of business schools but extending to other disciplines and networks. The intention to retain a core community that ‘acts its way into a new paradigm’ or into new modes of thinking and being, but also brings other networks and groups onto the journey is much needed and GRLI is positioned to help lead that discussion.”

A recent initiative in which GRLI participated has helped prepare the ground to renew or reformulate and communicate the call as part of a much broader and far-reaching alliance or “network or networks”.

The AGM concluded with a discussion on how, following the COP21 Open Letter initiative the EAUC, GRLI and several other global networks are forming an open CEO-led platform of forward-thinking university, college, student and company practitioner networks that galvanise the global education and learning community to create a sustainable future for education, society and the environment. They clarified the GRLI’s intention to convene and mobilise a network of networks increasing the impact of the movement’s partners’ individual actions, and catalysing collective action that can positively change the future of our society.

During an extraordinary board meeting with the AACSB and EFMD in September the next call was discussed in relation to questions that included: can the current economic, social, business and education system(s) be radically transformed? To what extent is it possible to balance incremental and radical change or to transition entirely to a new system? To what extent is it possible to fight against the human condition? What does governance for the 21st century look like and as a result what should be the purpose of business? How and where do we enable integration towards global responsibility?

The AGM was closed on Wednesday 19 October with a notice of the next AGM , titled: “Discovering Flourshing Enterprise”, which will take place June 14-16, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio as part of the Fourth Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit. The event will be hosted by Case Western Reserve University’s Fowler Center.


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© 2015. The Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative.
An AACSB International and EFMD strategic partnership established with the founding support of EFMD and United Nations Global Compact.