University, socially responsible, environmental sustainability, socially responsible graduates, research on social responsibility issues, recycling waste, photovoltaic panels, wind turbines
What does it mean for a university to be 'socially responsible'? With reference to the literature and using examples from the UK, and beyond, discuss how a university might demonstrate its commitment to social responsibility to its stakeholders.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) can be defined as 'the practice of producing goods and services in a way that is not harmful to society or the environment' (Cambridge Business English Dictionary). Multinational companies such as Microsoft publish Citizenship reports. In its 2015 Citizenship report, Microsoft addresses challenges such as ethical business conduct, empowering local communities and environmental sustainability (Microsoft 2015 citizenship report).
When it comes to the social responsibility of universities, the expectations have similarities wih those that people have for companies. It is known that universities play a crucial role in the UK economy: according to the ONS (Office for National Statistics), from 2011 to 2012, universities created more than £73 billion economic output, which represented a 2.8% contribution to the UK's GDP.
[...] To demonstrate its commitment to social responsibility to its stakeholders, a university can focus on contributing to environmental sustainability, educating socially responsible graduates and doing research on social responsibility issues. In order to achieve this, the university can build and develop a sustainable campus, involve its students in volunteering as well as educate them on social responsibility, fund research on issues such as inequalities and carbon emissions. In order to have real-life examples of universities that are committed to being socially responsible, we will consider the University of Melbourne and the University of Manchester. [...]
[...] This amount was ranked 6th amongst comparator countries in 2011. These figures prove the importance of R&D in the economy: R&D drives innovation and can therefore stimulate growth and increase the competitiveness of the country's companies. R&D contributes to the country's GDP and therefore potentially benefits all economic agents (administrations, households and companies). It is then possible to argue that doing R&D is beneficial for society whatever the field of study, even if the research project doesn't directly target social responsibility issues. [...]
[...] For universities, being socially responsible can mean contributing to society by working towards environmental sustainability. Developing and maintaining a “green campus” (energy efficient, low GHG emissions), as well as educating graduates that have an awareness of the need to lower carbon emissions, electricity/water consumption, as well as recycling more waste is a possible path. A university can also be socially responsible by its research and partnerships linked to it, having a positive impact on the local community, the whole country and sometimes even the world, as seen with the Manchester example. [...]
[...] This progress is due, among other factors, to the 90% increase on campus energy generation from solar panels, the increase of rainwater capture by 26% as well as a 40% annual waste recycling rate (University of Melbourne, “Sustainability report”, 2015). These results are significant and can be seen as a good example of a sustainable campus, or “green campus”, that works on a progressive basis, setting targets and meeting them. According to UCAS students entered the higher education system in 2015. In 2012, the total population of university students in the UK accounted for 2,493,000 (Eurostat study on students in tertiary education in Europe in 2012). Universities therefore have a key role in educating socially responsible graduates. [...]
[...] What Does it Mean for a University to be Socially Responsible? Question: What does it mean for a university to be “socially responsible”? With reference to the literature and using examples from the UK, and beyond, discuss how a university might demonstrate its commitment to social responsibility to its stakeholders. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) can be defined as “the practice of producing goods and services in a way that is not harmful to society or the environment” (Cambridge Business English Dictionary). [...]
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