Personal Values as a Building Block for Social Responsibility of Higher Education Institutions

Personal Values as a Building Block for Social Responsibility of Higher Education Institutions

Zlatko Nedelko (University of Maribor, Slovenia), Vojko Potocan (University of Maribor, Slovenia) and Nikša Alfirević (University of Split, Croatia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2480-9.ch007

Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to examine the role of personal values for social responsibility (SR) of higher education. Besides the core mission of higher education to create, transfer and preserve knowledge in society, the idea of SR has gained its importance also in institutions of higher education. SR has many drivers, among which personal values are considered as one of the key building blocks for SR. For enhancing SR, higher education institutions should also develop stronger ties with the community. The chapter provides an insight into discussion about community involvement of higher education, into the role of personal values for shaping SR of higher education institutions and explain how personal values can help to enhance community and social involvement of higher education. Findings may be a starting point for re-thinking and/or establishing strategies for achieving higher level of SR in higher education institutions and enhancing the link with the community.
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Introduction

The rising importance of sustainability was in the last decades expressed through various initiatives to preserve the environment for future generations (Dunlap & Mertig, 1990; Elkington, 2004). These initiatives have been used in different names, forms and shapes, like triple bottom line (Elkington, 2004), corporate social responsibility (CSR) (Foote et al., 2010), SR (Blackburn, 2007; Potocan et al., 2013), Agenda 21 (Bullard, 1998), sustainable development (Beckerman, 1994), and sustainability (Clayton & Radcliffe, 1996). We will use terms SR and sustainability interchangeable.

Looking from the perspective of various types of organizations, SR is extensively present and studied in business organizations (Schultz, 2001; Nordlund & Garvill, 2002; Cordano et al., 2011; Cirnu & Kuralt, 2013), while in some other types of organizations, the interest for sustainability is significantly lower. This lack is most clearly seen with lower number of studies in considered field. For instance, one emerging stream is dedicated to the ethics in public administration, focusing on ethical working and behavior of public administration organizations (Bowman & Knox, 2008; Fiorino, 2010; Jelovac et al., 2011; Kovac, 2013; Nedelko & Potocan, 2013). In frame of “non-profit sector”, the integration of sustainability into higher education organizations is occurring at an accelerated pace. This is confirmed with plethora of studies about sustainability or SR in higher education (Newman et al., 2004; McNamara, 2010; Gosselin et al., 2013; Figueiró & Raufflet, 2015; Hoover & Harder, 2015).

Various studies in this field emphasized several ways to enhance the SR of higher education institutions. Very commonly are addressed changes in curricula, where the focus in on implementing sustainability and SR principles into the curriculum (Figueiró & Raufflet, 2015) in order to have an impact on rising students’ level of SR – i.e. through their perception. For instance, Gosselin et al. (2013) reported, based on three case studies, that curricula were reformed in a way that enable students to learn about behavioral sciences, life sciences, Earth and atmospheric sciences, social sciences, etc., in order to broader their understanding of SR. Figueiró and Raufflet (2015) additionally reported that among 78 papers analyzed, dealing with management education, only 5 papers were dealing with green or sustainable campuses. Warwick (2016) emphasized vital role of students as change agents in the process of heightening SR level of higher education organizations, Wright and Wilton (2012) assigned increasing role to the management of educational institutions. Hoover and Harder (2015) reported about hidden complexity of organizational change for sustainability in higher education, emphasizing for instance, organizational culture, personal characteristics, individual knowledge, etc.. Another promising option to enhance sustainability of higher education is also development of stronger ties between higher education organizations and the community in order to become more socially responsible (Chambers & Gopaul, 2008).

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