Palgrave Handbook of Social Sustainability in Business Education

In an era defined by unprecedented global challenges, the role of education, particularly within higher education institutions (HEIs), emerges as a cornerstone for fostering positive societal change.

The newly published book “The Palgrave Handbook of Social Sustainability in Business Education Basingstoke” breaks new ground by providing a comprehensive review of theory and practice of how business education is being built across the world to nurture social sustainability.

The editors justify the focus on business education in higher education institutions (HEIs) with the statement that, ‘Education is the “consciousness of society” and one of the primary enablers of positive social change globally’ (page 6).

Aim of the book and Geographical Coverage

Social sustainability is interpreted through reference to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainability goals (SDGs). Social issues are embedded in 10 of these goals.  The aim of the book is to go beyond a descriptive approach to recording initiatives and sustainability standards.  Instead, the book’s applied mission is to inform business professionals’ knowledge, skills and mindsets through exploring the complexity of social sustainability to enable them to ‘lead change towards sustainable development through business activities’ (page 6).

The 28 chapters present different aspects of social sustainability, the specific SDGs overed and teaching types. The geographical coverage is very wide with not only the Americas and Europe well represented but also with contributions from other countries such as New Zealand, India, the Philippines, South Africa, and the UEA.

Relevance to CIMR: Developing a Business Curriculum

The relevance to CIMR lies in section VII: Developing a Business Curriculum and Educational Ecosystem that Foster Social Sustainability in Business and Society. Chapter 27 on “University involvement in supporting entrepreneurship of people with disabilities”, has its origins in a paper presented by one of the authors, Helen Lawton Smith, at the Workshop organized by Vaasa University in May 2023. Subsequently Aušrine Šilenskyte, who is a Programme Manager for the Bachelors’ in International Business, and an Ambassador for Internationalization at the School of Management, University of Vaasa, invited Helen to submit a chapter to the book – and co-opted Jurgita Butkeviciene, an Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship and Social Sustainability at the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at Vilnius University, Lithuania to co-author the chapter.

Case Study: The Business Clinic at Northumbria University

The chapter built on the collaboration between CIMR and Vaasa University and drew on recent research on disability entrepreneurship. Our chapter’s SDG goals were SFG 8: sustainable economic growth and social justice and SDG 4: inclusive education for all. One of our illustrative case studies and contact that we made during the Regional Studies Association research has led to an on-going collaboration. This is the Business Clinic in Northumbria University. It is a university initiative that demonstrates effective collaboration among stakeholders and their interlinkage for successful partnership, by providing practical, experiential learning involving a diverse group of students, including those with disabilities. Students engage in pro-bono full consultancy projects collaborate with different organizations and clients. The case study is fully developed in the chapter.

The book is comprehensive and a good place to start for managers in HEIs, managers of business programmes looking to review the scope and depth of social sustainability in their organisations as well as researchers. Access the book here


  1. A. Šilenskytė and S.M.Toh (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Social Sustainability in Business Education Basingstoke:Palgrave
  2. Butkevičienė, J and Lawton Smith, H (2024) University involvement in supporting entrepreneurship of people with disabilities Chapter 27 in A. Šilenskytė and S.M.Toh (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Social Sustainability in Business Education Basingstoke:Palgrave

Helen Lawton Smith March 27, 2024