Gies College of Business was honored as the Bronze Winner of the North American Regional Award for Reimagining Bottom-Up Sustainability Education. Madhu Viswanathan, Professor of Business Administration and Diane & Steven N. Miller Centennial Chair, accepted the award on behalf of the College at the Reimagine Education Conference in San Francisco, California. This is the first national award presented in the name of “Gies College of Business.”
Viswanathan founded and directs the Subsistence Marketplaces Initiative, which takes a bottom-up approach to the study of the intersection of poverty and marketplaces and developing unique synergies between research, teaching, and social initiatives. His innovative teaching style includes virtual immersion, where virtual reality-based teaching places students in impoverished communities. These courses are taught both on-campus and online through the Gies Business iMBA program. His bottom-up sustainability education program reaches almost a thousand students a year at the University of Illinois and many more online.
“I am overjoyed. This award belongs to our Gies College of Business, and it is truly a team effort,” Viswanathan said. “The bottom-up approach to sustainability we have pioneered is built on literally every unit of our College and several parts of our university. Representing our College at the conference was a time of reflection, excitement, and most of all gratitude—to field teams on four continents, to communities, social enterprises and businesses, our students, faculty, and staff. A special privilege has been working with our academic professionals and staff who strive tirelessly to put us on the global landscape. Yes, this has truly been bottom-up beginning right here at home! To represent this extraordinary local-global network of individuals is the highest award and reward.”
Viswanathan has been on the Gies College of Business faculty since 1990. In addition to his teaching, he also founded and directs the Marketplace Literacy Project, a non-profit organization pioneering the design and delivery of marketplace literacy education that has reached approximately 100,000 women in seven countries.
This award is the second for Gies College of Business in recent years. The iMBA online program, in partnership with Coursera, won a Silver Award in MBA & Professional Education at the 2016 Reimagine Education Awards.
Reimagine Education is hosted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and The Alfred West Jr. Learning Lab. More than 1,150 entries were received. The global awards are for innovative higher education pedagogies enhancing learning and employability.