In the triple bottom line (TBL) concept, organizations should commit to measuring not only their financial performance, but also their social and environmental impact, which is famously encapsulated into the “three Ps”: profit, people, and the planet (Miller, 2020). As a university that put forward values over profit, the University of the People (UoPeople) should also measure its social and environmental impact. It can be started by analyzing the vision, mission, and goal statements using the TBL perspective.
UoPeople was started as a non-profit entity (Burns, 2021). The university has a big dream. It envisions a world in which all qualified high school graduates can have access to higher education, regardless of financial, geographic, political, and personal circumstances (University of the People, n.d.). This vision has covered two of the Ps in the triple bottom line: profit and people, where it tried to provide inclusivity in a financially operating higher education. However, it still does not include sustainability. This can also be seen in the mission statement.
The mission of the UoPeople is to offer an accessible, quality education to any qualified student through flexible, affordable, online, accredited degree-granting programs that give graduates the potential to lead successful, fulfilling lives as individuals and members of society (University of the People, n.d.). Derived from the grand vision, this mission statement also covered profit and people share of the TBL, but still lacking in the planet.
UoPeople may want to reformulate its vision and mission statement to include the sustainability aspect. The university should emphasize that the quality education it offers is also based on sustainability values. For instance, its mission may be reformulated to “UoPeople’s mission is to offer an accessible, sustainability-based, quality education to any qualified student, through flexible, affordable, sustainable, online, accredited degree-granting programs that give graduates the potential to lead successful, fulfilling, and responsible lives as individuals, members of society and the environment.”
The reformulated mission may be translated into its goal statements. Currently, UoPeople has five detailed goal statements which can be summarized as follow.
- Providing inclusive access to higher education for students from diverse backgrounds
- Offering quality programs that maintain high academic standards
- Providing student services that contribute to the achievement of the desired learning outcomes
- Assisting students in developing, evaluating, and implementing employment decisions and plans
- Ensuring institutional financial stability and growth
If goals do not align with the mission, purpose, and vision of an organization, they need to be dropped, or modified, or the mission needs to be revised (Kennedy, 2020). These five goal statements are already aligned with the vision and mission of UoPeople. However, since the vision and mission are still not covering the planet aspect of the TBL, these goal statements also lack in addressing sustainability issues. The university can reformulate these goal statements to incorporate the environmental aspect of the higher education it offers, following the reformulation of its vision and mission.
For instance, the second goal statement can be reformulated into “offering quality programs that maintain high academic standards and high sustainability values”. It will add sustainability into its goal statements, justifying the need to measure the environmental impact of the university; in addition to its social and financial impact.
As a student of the university, I think the university has sufficient concerns for sustainability. It incorporates sustainability issues in courses such as business ethics, financial management, and strategic management. It also provides sustainability resources in its learning resource center. I believe, adding sustainability aspect into its mission statements will solidify its commitment to the triple bottom line.
References Burns, H. (2021, September 20). This online university aims to educate those with “no other alternative,” including Syrian refugees and Afghan women. The Business Journals. https://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/news/2021/09/20/university-of-the-people-refugees.html Kennedy, R. (2020). Strategic management. Virginia Tech Publishing. This book is licensed under a Creative Commons by-nc-sa 3.0 Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SA license. https://pressbooks.lib.vt.edu/strategicmanagement/ Miller, K. (2020, December 8). The triple bottom line: What it is & why it’s important. Harvard Business School Online. https://online.hbs.edu/blog/post/what-is-the-triple-bottom-line University of the People. (n.d.). Mission & Values. https://www.uopeople.edu/about/uopeople/mission-values/