Exploring the many aspects of the social responsibility of universities in a global environment
The modern university has multiple intertwined missions in the global knowledge economy. First and foremost, the university is charged with development of the talent of their students in such a way that they can be productive and responsible citizens. The creation and communication of new knowledge from research contributes to the education of students as they have their own impact on society.
The themes of the first and second International Exhibition and Conference on Higher Education (IECHE) were world class university systems and teaching as a key academic activity. This year’s conference examines the social responsibility of the university to society at large in the sense of the impact universities have through their organization and activities on the social engagement of their graduates. Often this is labeled as the service role of the university or the “third mission.” This element of higher education is a critical part of a university’s commitment to the larger society and to the educational experience of each student.
There are many dimensions to the role of service. The most important service universities render to society is the quantity and quality of the graduates. The contribution of research to national economic development is also highly relevant. This includes collaboration with government and industry to improve technology, assistance to industry to improve practice, support for the integration of new technologies, and the direction of new knowledge towards societal advancement.
The 2013 International Conference on Higher Education focuses more on the “soft side” of the third mission—the social responsibility of graduates and the role universities take in cultivating it. Presenters will discuss models for promoting social entrepreneurship and for fostering the civic and community involvement of students to encourage the continuing effort of graduates to improve the quality of life of all sectors of society. Encouraging broad-based participation in civic society and the development of the skills and attitudes of a socially responsible graduate is of central importance to higher education. Speakers will discuss innovative mechanisms for linking universities to the societies that host them through curriculum and related projects, as well as the importance of committing faculty to the notion of a socially responsible (and highly productive) graduate. Also, universities must demonstrate their social responsibility in both policies and practices, for example, by promoting institutional sustainability in their various operations.
Dr Rajesh Tandon, Co-Chair, UNESCO Chair on Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education and President, PRIA, will be attending the conference to make a presentation on “Mainstreaming Social Responsibility in Higher Education Institutes”.