Incorporating Social Responsibility as transversal topic in University curricula
Building synergies among University communities and other societal stakeholders
USR-NET @ Journée de la coopération ULB in Brussels, Belgium
USR-NET @ Solvay Fair for Impact in Brussels, Belgium
Project Meeting in Cádiz, Spain: Interesting ideas and good vibes
“Currently, the relationship between universities and society is like that of a quarrelsome couple: mutual accusations and lack of communication. We should bring love back between them.” says Prof. Andrea Lenzi, President of Italian National University Council (UCN)
“The implementation of Social Responsibility at the university level is only achieved with the consensus and engagement of the governing bodies”, says Ms. Valérie Swaen, Professor of Marketing & CSR at Louvain School of Management & Head of the Louvain CSR Network
“The society, therefore, is recognized as a subject not only interested in learning about or in using the results of scientific research and innovation, but also as a co-protagonist in the definition of the scientific agenda”, says Prof. Eugenio Gaudio, Rector of Sapienza University of Rome
“The university must be an open institution, which creates breaches and not walls..Educating to social responsibility implies this attitude to openness and collaboration.”, says Dr. Carlo Musto D’Amore, General Director of Sapienza University of Rome
Ms. Sabine Denis, Co-Executive Director at The Shift Belgian platform and meeting point for companies, NGOs and other organisations interested in sustainable business models was interviewed by USR-NET project leader Conexx-Europe in relation to the concept of University Social Responsibility. “I think that the problem lies with the concept of Social Responsibility; it is too broad and blurry..the focus should be on sustainability..Universities should provide society with sustainable solutions to technical and socio-economic issues…”. On promoting a transversal approach of SR in Universities: “If universities are presented with a big package of social responsibility actions and measures to take, they will choose to implement the easiest ones such as transparency, reporting and social projects..Yet this will not produce any substantial change. I would suggest that you focus on the first pillar: teaching. Indeed, including USR into academic curricula is the only way to make people aware of the issue. And that in turn spills over to the other pillars..” On barriers and incentives to promote USR: “The main barrier is surely the autonomy of the teaching body. On the other side, universities are dependent on public funding and making public funding conditional on including SR and sustainability in curricula is one of the solutions. University rankings are also sensitive topic for universities..” The whole interview is accessible here
USR-NET project leader Conexx-Europe interviewed, in the frame of the project, Ms. Opaline Meunier, President of the Union of Students of the French Community in Belgium (UNECOF-Union des Etudiants de la Communauté Française) on the concept of University Social Responsibility, its implementation and potential. Conexx-Europe presented the project, its approach and activities to Ms. Meunier who expressed the view that there is no real interaction between society and university. Universities share their knowledge and expertise with society, but the opposite is not happening. This is, according to Ms. Meunier, partly due to a conception of the university as a ‘place for pure knowledge’ and it must be preserved intact and protected from bad external influences. She also noted that while USR topics are taught in voluntary modules and, thus, potentially all students can attend them, the way these modules are structured makes them appealing to a limited number of students. The whole interview is accessible here
USR-NET project leader Conexx-Europe interviewed, in the frame of the project, Mr. Ramón Jáuregui, Spanish Member of the European Parliament, Chair of the Delegation to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly and one international leading promoter of Corporate Social Responsibility. The interview aimed at detecting barriers, accelerators, risks and incentives in the implementation of the University Social Responsibility. Conexx-Europe presented the project, its approach and activities to Mr. Jáuregui, who showed interest and shared his valuable insights, expertise and recommendations. “The commitment of the university governing bodies is the first step and a key factor to succeed in the implementation of University Social Responsibility. The Social Responsibility is an attitude and the ability of self-demandingness towards producing a good impact at social and environmental level (or at least reducing the most possible the bad effects) in the use of the resources needed to provide products and/or services”. The whole interview is accessible here
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A research and innovative action on USR is undertaken in the frame of the USR-NET project
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The USR-NET kick-off meeting was held on 14-15 January in Bucharest, Romania, hosted by the project partner Innovate4Future - Center for Advanced Educational Solutions. Partners discussed the details of the project implementation, agreed on the overall planning and elaborated on the guidelines for the first step, namely the development of the learning guide of transversal contents for Socially Responsible Universities.
For more photos from the meeting click here