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Clapping hands for student awards

Durham’s undergraduate business (UG) students have done exceptionally well in the United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education (UK and Ireland Chapter) annual student writing competition. Our students have won first and third prizes and provided five of the seven other finalist places in this prestigious national competition.

The students’ entries were all based on research undertaken for their Year 3 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability module taught by John Hirst, Associate Professor in the Department of Management & Marketing. The theme of this year’s assignment was whether corporations can be trusted to help solve the global food crisis. 

The first prize in the undergraduate essay category was awarded to Jos Kowal from the BA Business and Management programme. Co-Chairs of the UG Panel, Angie Lench and Dr Romas Malevicius, praised an “insightful, independent, mature and critical evaluation” of the global food system and its dysfunctions, along with potential implications for future governance. The third prize went to Tania Bradford whose work also addressed the role of corporations in solving the global food crisis. 

The other Durham finalists commended by the judges were Lucy Baker, Elodie Lunt, Martha Murray, Eloise Pitcher and Robert Smith. 

Announcing the 2023 results, Dr Jonathan Louw, Chapter Chair and Oxford Brookes competition organiser, commended the winners and other finalists on “their exceptionally talented, creative and committed contributions to researching and reflecting on sustainability, responsibility and ethical challenges”. 

Collecting his £500 prize money winner, Jos commented, “I’m over the moon that I’ve won! It’s really a testament to the wonderful teaching—congratulations on all the Durham students who became finalists. I really enjoyed the module and wish you all the best for the future". 

Module leader Associate Professor in Management, John Hirst, said “I am so proud of my students' achievements. Most of them had very little understanding of the causes and complexities of the global food crisis but their research led them to appreciate that the industrial scale of food production and consumption is the root cause of the biodiversity crisis, the food crisis, the obesity crisis and disease epidemics. Left unchecked commodification and extraction of resources is pushing species to extinction and has led to ecosystem collapse, while causing irreversible climate disaster”. 

Professor Martyna Sliwa, Associate Dean for Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability, said “this is a wonderful achievement, both for the students and for John as an outstanding educator”. 

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