New book shows standardisation education can support sustainable development

Henk de Vries, Professor of Standardisation Management at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM), has co-authored and co-edited a book which shows that standardisation is essential for sustainability. Sustainable Development: Knowledge and Education About Standardisation, published in October, particularly focuses on standardisation education, and includes best practices and case studies. It shows that education about standardisation supports sustainable development and can become a vehicle for sustainability education.



The book gives examples of ways to make it appealing to students, describes cases of research-based teaching, and uses examples from courses at RSM. The Netherlands is one of the leading countries in the field of setting and implementing standards – both are essential for products and services to be successful on the market, and for the good functioning of processes and organisations.

Revealing links to sustainability

Prof. De Vries: “For researchers, this is the first academic publication that interconnects the concepts of sustainability, standardisation and education. For professionals in the area of sustainability it shows that standardisation is an essential instrument for enhancing sustainability. For standardisation professionals, the book outlines the links to sustainability and it shows not only the importance of education about standardisation, but also how this can be organised. For universities, the book shows that standardisation deserves to be included in the curriculum, and it provides guidance and best practice examples about how this can be done.”

The professor co-edited the book, and wrote the introduction, the discussion and two chapters. The other authors are from Europe and the USA, and the co-editors are from the UK, the Netherlands, Serbia and the Republic of Korea.

Benefit business and nature

In his inaugural address in October, Prof. de Vries used examples from technology and business to explain how establishing and recording a set of standards can be used to benefit business and nature. What’s more, standardisation is an important instrument in addressing the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which underpin RSM’s mission, to be a force for positive change in the world.

Education in the global economy

Prof. De Vries commented: “This book is unique in examining education about standardisation in the context of sustainable management. It shows the role of standardisation education in the global economy, and in markets, industries and businesses. It presents knowledge on standardisation for sustainable management, describes measures that can be taken to stimulate it, and highlights strategies for teaching and disseminating the concept.”

An alternative to legislation?

“From a government perspective, these standards are an alternative to legislation, or can be used in combination with regulation. The voluntary character may be seen as a weakness but is also a strength if stakeholder involvement leads to real commitment.

From the business side, the attention for sustainability is shifting from mitigating negative externalities towards creating new business opportunities by providing products and services that help solve societal problems.

For NGOs the challenge is not just to create alternatives for the small percentage of consumers really interested in sustainability but to team up with industry and governments to make changes that have much more societal impact. To make this happen, better understanding of standardisation in the context of sustainability is needed: that means education.”

More information

Sustainable Development: Knowledge and Education about Standardisation (ISBN 978-3-030-28715-3) is published by Springer in hardcover and e-book.

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top 10 business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China. www.rsm.nl

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at mschouten@rsm.nl.

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