Use of Privilege Walk as a tool for teaching

‘’Privilege walk,’ another reflection based activity presented by another team in the class.  I liked this task, as we can use such a task in multicultural classrooms to break the ice. It can also help students to understand how diverse different cultures can be, while, the basic human emotions remain the same. I think teachers can customize the questions of this task based on the needs of the subject. It also brings awareness to everyone in the class about various other possibilities about a topic based on an individual’s reaction to each question.

In CEM classes, I can use this task to highlight different socio-economic issues in different cultures to highlight how multinational corporations can customize their corporate social responsibility geographically. Often, students from one geographical region are not entirely aware of culture and socio-economic problems of students from another geographical region. Sometimes in a multicultural classroom setting, a task like this might help students to discover the background of other students and create an environment to discuss and learn about different issues on an international platform so that the students are more aware of various cultural issues and deal with them appropriately in their future jobs.

I also agree to the following class discussion that as a teacher we need to use this task in classrooms with responsibility. There might be a risk of raising some issues, which can hurt or shock some students. I feel that it would be appropriate that if I provide complete context to the students and make them understand that it is essential to be aware of how other cultures function and this awareness might help them to deal with situations in a better way in future without getting overly judgemental about others or feeling shocked.  

Exposing students to potential risks through role-play in classroom

In business school, role-play can serve as a useful simulation tool for preparing students for real-life business situations. In this post, I am sharing an example of a role-play simulation that we used in one of our course. Based on this I will reflect on the preparation that is involved in organizing such a role-play in a classroom setting.

We used role-play in the course “Stakeholders in networks.” Tiina Onkila, Adrienn Károly, and I teach this course together. Broadly speaking, this course is about how stakeholders can influence business and how businesses engage with its stakeholders. In the last session of this course, we have a role-play exercise to expose the students to the real-life stakeholder negotiation process. Some of the learnings of this exercise are how stakeholders influence businesses, what are the potential risks to business and how two very diverse stakeholder groups might be interrelated to each other.

Possible pointer for planning such a role-play session in a class:

1) Choosing a topic for role-play: It is essential that the students are comfortable with the issue or else the learning outcome will not be that effective. During the first session of our course, we asked students to choose one real-life case from a set of a few real-life cases we provided them.

2) Providing information about the issue. In our course, the students had the owners to find information about the problem. We facilitated this process by presenting them with the existing literature from different stakeholder perspectives.

3) Assigning roles to the students. In our class, we assigned students to different stakeholder groups through the lottery. Each stakeholder group has three to four students. Role assignment was done a session before the role-play session. Delaying the role assignment is debatable. I prefer to postpone until a class session before the actual role-play. I feel this allows students to reflect on all the stakeholders during the course and yet get some time to discuss issues of a specific assigned stakeholder group with other students of the same group.

4) Setting some broad rules for the role-play is essential to facilitate is stakeholder discussion/negotiation.  If there are stringent rules, then students lose creative liberty to try something different from what has happened in the real work.

5) Receiving and giving feedback after the session. In our course, last time, we did not have a formal feedback discussion with all the teachers. However, I do believe Adrienn had the opportunity to discuss this experience in one of her class. I feel after the role-play; we should have a discussion, which may highlight even bigger emotions and issues that the students felt during the role-play.

These were some significant practical issues to prepare for having a role-play session in the class.

Banal Nationalism

In a multicultural classroom, the national boundaries may dissolve very quickly. Only if everyone understood that we all have some personal identifications to our national structures and our national culture. And one should not judge others for such identifications. Individually students and teachers may have a personal identification with their own national identity. Because of which students may or may not be comfortable discussing a few things about their nation in the classroom. It might be a reason for someone to judge. As a teacher, my own reflection on my own identity and my own process of identification of my national identity may help me to understand this process. Also, this stops me from over judging the students.  The challenge is to keep these identifications under control in a classroom setting. As a teacher, I need to be even more responsible for the classroom teaching to ensure learning beyond the national boundaries.


As a teacher, I try to use the multicultural classroom to my benefit. Especially during the discussions, I encourage students to share examples from their own countries. For example, once I was mentioning about car sharing model in Germany to explain boundaries of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). There were some exchange students from Germany in the class who started smiling. They immediately identified the phenomena and were happy to explain the phenomena to the rest of the class. This encouraged active participation in the class. Students identify with examples that are local to their nation. But sometimes student associate shame and stigma with specific examples from a certain region. For example, a student from India may find it very difficult to explain child labor or cases related to social injustice. As a teacher I need to understand these tensions and awkwardness around specific example in the class.  I need to handle it in a more relaxed way providing them some context and why it is necessary to know about that example with some positive twist.

The aim was to write about my practical experience with Banal nationalism. But I suppose this more of my personal thoughts about the situation when one has to deal with banal nationalism.

Reflection on EMI teaching

A couple of weeks back I along with Dr. Marjo Siltaoja taught a course about – Managing a green organization. Marjo was teaching about the leadership and human issues, while I was teaching the environmental management systems (EMS) and practical aspects of implementing a green strategy in an organization. Leadership and human issues were taught first, and then I introduced the class with the EMS.

The teaching material included EMS standards (EMAS standards and ISO 14001 standards, GRI indicators) and PowerPoint slides.

One of the significant challenges for me during the course was not to make it a monologue. As the guidelines are of hundreds of pages and explaining them can be very mechanical or robotic in nature. I was teaching this for the first time, I was very tensed about how to deal with this situation. As a student, I never enjoyed monologues and non-stop instructions.

Another challenge was to relate all that I was teaching with what Marjo had already explained in the class.

To deal with the first issue, I divided my class into two parts. The first half would be a monologue and instructions for about 30 minutes. In the second half in groups students picked one company from different industries (For example Nuclear power plant, a paper mill, a clothes manufacturing company, etc.). I came up with a set of guiding questions, that might help the students to deal with implementing these EMS guidelines in real jobs. I asked the students to answer these guiding questions for implementing an EMS for the chosen company. During these group discussions, I would go to each group and ask them to explain to me their approach, where I would challenge them and push them beyond their present thinking. Also, I noted interesting questions and ideas that were discussed with the individual group and shared them collectively at the beginning of the next class.

This approach, gave the students an idea about practical challenges while implementing an EMS. Also, how to find the right indicators from the guidelines.

To deal with the second challenge, I would ask them some direct questions during the group discussion, how would they as leaders deal with a particular situation and ask them to reflect on what they learned in the first half of the course. Further during the last class, I invited the ex-global Sustainability Director of Nokia, to share his experiences and challenges as a leader to manage sustainability at a global level. This interaction was exciting, as students came up with interesting questions that they were trying to deal during the group discussions and got some excellent answers from real life experiences.

Another practical issue that I noticed very quickly in the first class was that students were not familiar with specific terms. I was expecting that the master’s student would be familiar with terms like benchmarking, the scope of carbon emissions and a few more. Anyhow, during the first class, I could notice blank faces in my classroom when I was talking about benchmarking. Then I explained them the term and asked them to stop me whenever I used an unfamiliar term. I was thinking that the class would be shy to stop me, but luckily that was not the case.

To summarize, my EMI was based on short monologues that provided instructions, then reflection on the teachings in groups and answering questions and discussion with the teacher and sharing of the learnings with rest of the class.

First post – Introduction

Hello Everyone!

This is a wonderful class and there is so much to learn and reflect from these classes. I am Bhavesh Sarna. I have a doctoral student at business school working in the Sustainable business group under the subgroup of Corporate Environmental Management (CEM). My research is about the identification of organizational paradoxes at the micro-level caused because of the different understanding of organizational Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies by individual employees.

As a student, I have studied in many places. I did my Bachelors in Technology from India, then a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from New Zealand and Master’s in CEM from Jyväskylä. I have seen teachers with very different teaching styles, I always wondered how will my own teaching experience be. You never know until you actually step into the shoes of a teacher and stand in front of the students to make an attempt to teach them. Last semester I got the opportunity to teach, which was such an excellent learning experience. Having those classes as my reference points, I feel that I have a lot to reflect upon and learn a lot in this class from the teachers and the fellow students (or teachers).

I have never done blogging before. So, I am picking on my reflective thoughts and presenting them here.

Looking forward to the next class.

Thanks for having me in the class.