GIBS Faculty recognised for teaching business practices that help confront society's 'grand challenges'

Posted on September 30, 2016


GIBS Faculty members who teach a core module of the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) PGDip (Postgraduate Diploma in General Management) programme entitled Human Behaviour and Performance, were recently awarded the prestigious Aspen Institute Business and Society 2016 Faculty Pioneer Award.

Dubbed 'the Oscars of the business school world', these awards celebrate educators who demonstrate leadership and risk-taking, and focus on a curriculum that contributes to resolving some of the world's 'grand challenges'.  

The GIBS Human Behaviour and Performance module, taught by Professor Margie Sutherland, Dr Ngao Motsei, Morris Mthombeni, Jonathan Cook and Anthony Wilson-Prangley, aims to expand delegates' understanding of how to bring different people together to drive performance. This framework helps leaders to refine the crucial management goals of performance and inclusion. The Faculty members who are involved in this programme were recognised for developing coursework that helps students understand and respond to the human complexity of the world around them. The module combines theoretical content from the fields of sociology, social psychology and organisational behaviour and includes a practical element involving visits to places of symbolic importance, as well as learning through dialogue, theatre and the sharing of stories.

'The Human Behaviour and Performance course is integral to our philosophy at GIBS – business cannot thrive unless it is deeply connected to society. Although the course is South African in orientation, the issues it embraces are global and key to shaping the kind of business leaders the world needs today,” says Dean, Professor Nicola Kleyn.

For more than a decade, the Aspen Institute Faculty Pioneer Awards have recognised faculties that are at the frontline of teaching the complexities of the business and society interface. The focus of this year's award was on business school faculties that incorporate interdisciplinary approaches in their teaching.

'As members of the GIBS Faculty, we teach many theories from across the world, while also ensuring that we profile local experience and what the rest of the world can learn from us. This has been a hugely collaborative effort over many years and the course evolves continuously as we learn more about how we can bring people together to achieve results,' says Anthony Wilson-Prangley of the GIBS Faculty.

Jonathan Cook, also of the GIBS, adds: 'This course grew out of our determination to generate the kind of tough, honest but respectful conversations South African business leaders need to have with each other about race, gender, discrimination and opportunity. We look at the psychological and social origins of prejudice, but above all we draw on the stories of the students in the class to help them to learn to listen to their fellow students, regardless of how different they are, with insight and appreciation. While the course focuses on the particular situation in South Africa, it provides the experiential insight any person would need to manage effectively in any diverse society – which is anywhere where business is conducted in the world.'

'I salute the Faculty for developing and honing this course and the students whose outlooks have broadened and shifted as a consequence of engaging deeply with each other on the divides that prevent us from growing inclusively,' Professor Kleyn concluded. 


About GIBS:

Founded in 2000, the University of Pretoria's Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) is an internationally accredited business school, based in Johannesburg, South Africa's economic hub. As a business school, we focus on general management in dynamic markets to significantly improve responsible individual and organisational performance, primarily in the South African environment, but also increasingly in our broader African environment, by providing high-quality business and management education. In May 2016, the annual UK Financial Times Executive Education rankings, a global benchmark for providers of executive education, once again ranked GIBS as the top South African and African business school. This is the 13th consecutive year in which GIBS has been ranked among the top business schools worldwide. In October 2015, the GIBS MBA was ranked among the top 100 business schools globally in the prestigious Financial Times Executive MBA Rankings. GIBS is the only business school in Africa to feature in this ranking.

GIBS is accredited by the Association of MBAs (AMBA), the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Council on Higher Education (CHE), and is a member of the South African Business Schools Association (SABSA), and the Association of African Business Schools (AABS). For more information, visit




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