Sustainable Futures Hackathon 2024 – Hacking Place in Accounting Education

Posted by Anastasia Kopita - Jun 16, 2024

Sustainable Futures Hackathon 2024 – Hacking Place in Accounting Education

Nick McGuigan, Charles H. Cho & David Derichs


This year the EAA Education Committee worked collaboratively with the Centre for Social and Environmental Research (CSEAR) to host the 2024 Sustainable Futures Hackathon during the opening of the annual congress, recently held in Bucharest, Romania.

This year’s co-organisers Nick McGuigan (Monash University, Australia), Charles H. Cho (Schulich School of Business, York University, Canada) and David Derichs (Aalto University, Finland) instigated a very different and somewhat unusual format to the hackathon, challenging participants’ educational worldview by interrogating where accounting education takes place.

Collaborating with six talented co-facilitators, Joan Ballantine (Ulster University, Northern Ireland), Ericka Costa (University of Trento, Italy), Alessandro Ghio (Laval University, Canada), Blerita Korca (University of Bamberg, Germany), Alessandro Merendino (Queen Mary University of London, England), Erica Pimentel (Queen’s University, Canada), the organisers matched facilitator research interests and expertise with ‘place’ to actively and playfully engage in Hacking Place in Accounting Education.


Participants joined each co-facilitator in small groups to go out and explore six diverse place sites across the city of Bucharest. These included, working with nature in accounting at Grădina Cișmigiu public gardens, working with equity, diversity, and social belonging in accounting at LGBTQIA+ bar Thor’s Hammer, working with technology and immaterial space in accounting with Bonapp digital app, working with art in accounting at Anca Poterasu Gallery, working with community in accounting at Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum, and working with history in accounting at Bucharest’s historic old town.

Taking participants away from what they perceived as the ‘normal’ educational context enabled learning to come alive, “It was very stimulating to be in a physical place where ESG issues actually take place. It forces you to think critically about the specific ESG issue”. This is important as “It makes the context real. We were looking at SDGs, and in this place, certain SDGs came to life”. In doing so, accounting education became “more down-to-earth, close to day-to-day”, the proximity of learning for participants changed and they could feel a closeness with accounting that was not perceived as present elsewhere.

Forty-one accounting academics, spanning 21 countries and spread across 4 continents, joined their co-facilitators in small groups to hack the place in which accounting education and learning take place, designing innovative learning materials that capture place-based education in accounting. This included participants playfully being asked to form first impressions by ‘going on a date’ with their Bucharest site! Taking time out to get to know each other a little better. Walking around the site trying to get a feel for each other.

I was surprised how much my own prior beliefs impacted how I perceived place differently from my group members”.

It was then time to get intimate. Now that participants were all on a first name basis with their site, it was time to get physical and map it out. Mapping key reflections and references picked up about the site.

It widened the context in which I perceive what is accounting – it broadened my perspective”.

Gaps were subsequently filled from fact gathering, data hunting and storytelling. Participants built further knowledge on their site by uncovering further detail and depth, fleshing out history and stories of place to ensure a depth of context.

“[It] raised creativity for learning activity design, group discussion very rich and productive

It was then time to make connections between the uncovered Bucharest site with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME) i5 pedagogical design principles.

[It] was a nice experience because made me think out of my comfort zone. The cultural diversity shows me different points of view and ways to do classes”.

Within this context, participants then worked collaboratively to co-design learning experiments that query place, practice, and positioning, creating innovative learning activities and materials that could be applied in diverse accounting education contexts.

There are many different ways in which place connects to thoughts about accounting education. Communicating in the team reveal often more connections”.

Innovative learning activities developed included, for example, immersive experience learning in audit, where students are asked to work in groups to conduct an audit of SDGs and local community, using all their senses in place to conduct individual observations before bringing these together to create an informed group perspective. Alternatively, making use of technology to encourage students to investigate an organisation, working collaboratively with generative AI platforms to formulate key performance indicators and unique ways of measuring organisational performance.

Hacking Place in Accounting Education provided an exploratory context for accounting academics to explore connections between accounting and place, form deeper relationships with peers and work collaboratively to co-design innovative pedagogical learning materials that begin to place accounting education in context.

It’s a way to motivate students and improve their critical point of view. I work in a touristic city and most of my students also work at the same time they study. Now I can create an activity using these places and connect to accounting. I want to replicate this hackathon”.

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