Social responsibility, the theme of UAS Journal 1/2015 covers a wide range of different aims and activities. Social responsibility means voluntary integration of a socially and environmentally responsible (business) operating model into the daily workings of an organisation. The term is often used for companies (as corporate social responsibility or CSR) but it is also applicable to higher education institutions. Sustainable development is often mentioned as the precursor or the main aim of social responsibility.
The subjects of the articles offered for the theme issue clearly illustrate the different aspects of social responsibility (economy, environment and people), at the level of individual, community and organisation, in Finland and globally. The first three articles examine the social responsibility of teachers at universities of applied sciences, the quest for a responsible relationship with the world and the responsibilities or a supervisor.
The next three articles discuss corporate social responsibility. Its definitions often highlight the voluntary nature of social responsibility; it concerns ecological and social measures that go beyond statutory requirements. Universities of applied sciences have also integrated many of these principles of corporate social responsibility into their education, RDI and regional development tasks – in their own operations and in their role as developers of the regional economy, working life and well-being. Universities and other higher education institutions have also extensively developed their education offerings in the field of responsible business operations.
The sustainable development networks of universities and other higher education institutions are an important forum for developing cooperation and socially and environmentally responsible education and the network-based cooperation between higher education institutions in the Nordic area and in the Baltic Sea Region is examined in two articles.
In the last seven articles, experts in different fields discuss the social responsibility of Finnish higher education institutions. The Ministry of Education and Culture also steers universities of applied sciences towards social responsibility and sustainable development by means of the social contracts that they have prepared. Many higher education institutions have published social responsibility reports for several years and the universities of applied sciences are increasingly preparing their strategies and action plans on the basis of sustainable development. This responsible approach also involves safety, security and well-being at universities of applied sciences and social and cultural well-being in the region.
Four sustainable development programmes and education projects are also discussed in the publication. There are many issues, such as climate change, sufficiency of natural resources and energy and social problems, that can only be solved if experts demonstrate a new type of sustainability competence. The education must be able to respond to these competence needs and to anticipate them 10 to 20 years in advance. Fortunately students at universities of applied sciences have joined social and environmental responsibility degree programmes and projects in large numbers. It is particularly positive that many students have also taken part in the activities described in the articles and contributed to the articles themselves.
Juha Lindfors, Theme Issue Editor (Metropolia University of Applied Sciences)
Universities of applied sciences are fully committed to meeting their social responsibility
Markku Lahtinen, President, Tampere University of Applied Sciences
During the past two decades, the universities of applied sciences have become firmly established in Finland as providers of education and as institutions contributing to the renewal and development of working life. The new act on universities of applied sciences, which entered into force at the start of this year, provides for more unified administrative structures in universities of applied sciences and strengthens their autonomy. Universities of applied sciences are responsible players with substantial regional impact, which has also been noted by our stakeholders and which provides a basis for more self-government.
The world is again in transition. Changes in the global economy and such developments as digitalisation mean that Finland, too, must introduce major structural changes and update many of the practices that have become well-established over the years. In such a situation, more and more is expected of the universities of applied sciences and, with the adoption of the new legislation, of the research and development in the field of working life that are carried out in them.
This means that we must work even harder to find ways of creating new innovations that can provide a stronger basis for well-being in Finland. In fact, the universities of applied sciences are probably best placed to renew and develop working life and the economy and their processes as they already train most of the professionals involved in development tasks. This is the social responsibility that the universities of applied sciences must now demonstrate and the task that we must accept.
Multi-disciplinary offerings and a strong commitment to cooperation with actors in their own regions are the strengths of the universities of applied sciences and this publication is another fine example of this approach.
Social awareness of lecturers at the universities of applied sciences
Anna Liisa Westman, Principal Lecturer, Docent,Doctor of Social Sciences, M.Sc. (Admin.), Karelia University of Applied Sciences
Lecturers at the universities of applied sciences are required to have the ability to develop their own teaching work alongside with the surrounding society. Teachers need to be aware of the different social practices in order to practice their profession. Teachers’ social responsibility is based on values and on the ability to treat their cooperation partners both equally and fairly. It is also essential to have the understanding of the education policy and of the administrative exercise of power when e.g. selecting appropriate pedagogical solutions to be applied. The global market economy and the upheaval of the labour market have an impact on all fields of education. Nationally, allowances for education have been cut down and the time used for classroom instruction has been minimised for economic reasons. Students are increasingly often unemployed people or adults studying for their second or third degree. In this situation, teachers’ societal awareness, together with their competence in their own area of expertise, allows learners to be empowered to become active citizens. This change is possible if teachers are aware and able to reflect their understanding of the changes in the society, labour market and education. This presumes, however, a number of actors working side by side regardless of any organisational or cultural boundaries by conducting research and developing teacher identities together.
Responsible relationship with the world and its role in the quest for good life
Arto O. Salonen, Senior Lecturer, Ph.D. (Educ.), Adjunct Professor, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences
In this article, I will examine the limits of responsibility and the way in which responsibility is defined. I will identify who and what should be included in the sphere of care. In a globalised world, the choices that we make in our daily life connect us with the lives of people that are far away from us. The long distance between consumers and producers makes it more difficult to define the sphere of care. The finiteness of the Earth in such matters as natural resources and our ability to treat discharges and emissions is also challenge when responsibilities are assigned. We get to the core of a responsible relationship with the world when we are able to identify which matters are inalienable and fundamental to the quest for good life. In such a situation we realise that a human community cannot exist without an ecological base and that economies cannot exist without a human community. All challenges concerning our existence as humans are ultimately a matter of ecological and social fundamentals. This is because the economy, too, is an eco-social process. In order to keep alive the hope for a better future we must ensure that the sphere of care first and foremost covers ecological issues so that there can also be life on Earth in the future. They must be followed by social issues pertaining to human rights, which help to ensure a basis for dignified life. A responsible relationship with the world is a matter of an extensive system of ecological and social care, in which freedoms and responsibilities go hand in hand in all spheres of life. The process of learning and growth must result in an eco-socially enlightened human being who is able to turn a responsible relationship with the world into deeds in more and more daily choices.
Social responsibility and diversity based on work capacity: A challenge for managers
Tuula Kukkonen, Principal Lecturer, Doctor of Social Sciences, Karelia University of Applied Sciences
Diversity based on work capacity is one example of diversity at workplaces. Diversity management is a part of the social responsibility of organization. When it comes to diversity management, there are both economical and ethical and social reasons for social responsibility. When striving for prolongation of the work careers, the significance of diversity management will grow even more. This requires comprehensive skills and competencies from the managers, e.g. in diversity management in general, in consolidation of work capacity and work and in the management of change in the work community.
How sharing promotes sustainability
Minna-Maari Harmaala, Principal Lecturer, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences
Consumer behaviour has changed dramatically. Engagement, meaning, and the longing for belonging to a wider community, conscious consumerism and sustainability concerns have paved the way to a consumer readily accepting and taking part in the collaborative economy. From niche to a significant trend, collaborative consumption and related businesses represent a market opportunity worth 100 billion USD within a few years to a decade. This paper explores the concept of the sharing economy or collaborative consumption and especially its role in promoting sustainability.
Expertise promoting green business through cooperation across education levels
Kaisa Annala, Coordinator, M.A., F.E.C (Further Educated with Companies), SYKLI Environmental School of Finland
Tove Holm, Training Manager, Ph.D., SYKLI Environmental School of Finland
Eeva Hämeenoja, President, Lic.Sc. (Tech.), SYKLI Environmental School of Finland
Business that promotes green growth should be enhanced much more than it is currently. Completely new professions would hardly be needed, there is rather a need for including environmental knowledge in existing professions. Multi-skilled experts that understand different fields at the same time would be obtained if education would provide content and perspectives that complement the own field of expertise. Cooperation between different fields and levels of education is important, as the new skills often emerge at the interfaces.
These were major findings in a study that Sykli Environmental School of Finland did in 2014. Based on the study three main areas of skill needs for green economy were chosen. In the “From sustainable design to sustainable implementation: knowledge supply chains for a green economy” project, corresponding education in Finnish universities of applied sciences, for the selected skill needs, will be mapped in 2015.
PRME framework helps to integrate responsibility issues into business education
Nikodemus Solitander, Sinituote Postdoctoral Researcher, PRME Coordinator, Hanken
Greta Steenvoorden, PRME Assistant, Hanken
In economic life, questions pertaining to corporate responsibility have increasingly become mainstream in conducting and developing business activities. This sets new requirements also for business education. Since 2007, the UN has been developing a platform which facilitates the development of education towards greater inclusion of perspectives related to corporate responsibility. The Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME) provides a framework for business universities to develop the contents of their education as well as their research and other activities in this regard. The framework allows member institutions to make sense of the prevailing level of inclusion of these themes internally, but also provides a broad set of tools for dialogue with external stakeholders. Both the local and global networks within PRME lend to an ongoing conversation which supports the member institutions in developing their activities, the end goal of which is to instil the ability to make ethical choices in the future professionals within the corporate realm.
Nordic higher education institutions joined forces to support sustainable development
Meeri Karvinen, NSCN coordinator, Rio+20 project manager, Aalto University
Meri Löyttyniemi, Chair of NUAS sustainability, Senior Advisor for Sustainability, Aalto University
The collaboration between the Nordic countries has a long history, and environmental aspects have played an essential role in the region. The Nordic universities have additionally collaborated for decades, both in research, and in the administrational level through NUAS network. However, sustainable development –related collaboration between the Nordic universities was established only in 2012, when the Nordic Sustainable Campus Network, NSCN, was founded.
NSCN gathers together sustainability experts in the Nordic higher education institutions (HEIs), including universities of applied sciences, and it has established platforms for sharing and connecting. At the moment, NSCN runs a Nordic Council of Ministers-funded project, Rio+20 in the Nordic HEIs. The project responds to the targets set in the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development 2012, and implements the international sustainability initiative of HEIs. The aim is to inventory the level of sustainable development in the Nordic HEIs, to find out how sustainability is steered in different countries, and to find common ways to enhance sustainability in HEIs.
The collaborative efforts of the Nordic HEIs have so far resulted to NSCN merging with NUAS, which enables integrating sustainability aspects more efficiently into all university activities. Furthermore, the Rio+20 project has been successful, and inspired negotiations with the Nordic Council of Ministers on its continuation.
Baltic University Programme – A network joining students, teachers and researchers in the Baltic Sea Region
Paula Lindroos, Director, Baltic University Programme, Åbo Akademi University
Ahmed Mansour, Student, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Member of the International Board of the Baltic University Programme
The Baltic University Programme is one of the most successful examples in our region of networking and support for internationalisation at higher education institutions. Students, teachers as well as researchers cooperate at the Baltic Sea regional level in common projects, and support the introduction of sustainability related issues in education, research, and management.
Yearly over 8000 students are engaged in the courses that the network offers in the field of environment and sustainability for undergraduate and master’s levels. Beside the traditional courses BUP offers different kinds of events for students in favour of their mobility and internationalisation, such as students’ conferences and participation in high level events.
In several applied projects the Baltic University Programme has acted as a platform for cooperation between higher education and authorities and companies in the countries of the Baltic Sea region. One additional advantage offered to the partners of a large and open network like the Baltic University Programme is the support to the members in finding quickly and effectively partners to new projects.
Global responsibility of higher education institutions in the doughnut economy
Sami Kivelä, Senior Lecturer, Project Manager, M.Sc. (Tech.), Diakonia University of Applied Sciences
Hanna Hauta-aho, Special Advisor, Bachelor of Culture and Arts, Diakonia University of Applied Sciences
The article discusses the chances of universities of applied sciences to promote global responsibility and to ensure sustainable development. The speakers describe the experiences of the Diakonia University of Applied Sciences in these fields and we hope that they encourage other universities of applied sciences to set ambitious but at the same time achievable and practical objectives for strengthening global responsibility and sustainable development.
Reporting on Social Responsibility in Saimaa University of Applied Sciences
Tanja Matikainen, Quality Manager, Saimaa University of Applied Sciences
Both the companies and the public sector – including universities – are responsible for corporate social responsibility and reporting on it. This article describes how Saimaa University of Applied Sciences has drawn up the social responsibility reporting. The aim of the report is to provide stakeholders with an overall view of the duties, operations and results achieved in the organization. The reporting is also a part of management, enterprise resource planning and quality assurance systems.
Social responsibility in social and health care education
Hilkka Honkanen, Principal Lecturer, Dr.Sc. (Nutr.), Oulu University of Applied Sciences
Arja Veijola, Principal Lecturer, Dr.Sc. (Nutr.), Oulu University of Applied Sciences
The work of social and health care professionals is influenced by many of the changes taking place in the world around them. They change and shape the operating environment in which the professionals do their work. At the same time, the clientele has changed and continues to change. Social and health care professionals must adapt to the changes so that they can respond to the needs of the changing society. This poses challenges in the training of professionals, which must both anticipate the changes in the sector and quickly react to them. In fact, one can speak of social responsibility in education, which is nowadays widely accepted, especially in social and health care education. Education provides the world with professionals for tasks that promote the well-being of humankind and alleviate human suffering. The services provided by the professionals must also benefit the national economy: prevention and correctly timed treatment of illnesses and rehabilitation keep people healthy and help them to maintain their working and functional capacity. In the field of education, social responsibility is often examined from the perspective of the end result and the way in which social responsibility could also be integrated in the education itself is overlooked. Can the years of study instil a mindset into the students so that they learn to think and act in a more socially responsible manner? The Finnish system of higher education, which is funded through tax revenue, is unique in the world. How can we make the system better suited for the needs of working life and the sector by planning the carrying out of the studies in a new way? This article is based on our own experiences in social and health care education. We have seen how major development processes in the sector can be carried out and research information based on extensive material produced by changing pedagogical approaches and combining student resources.
Positive atmosphere and agreement on aims a basis for safety and security improvements at the Laurea University of Applied Sciences and Laurea Library
Tiina Ranta, Head of Security, Laurea University of Applied Sciences
Erja Huovila, Information Specialist, Laurea University of Applied Sciences
First Head of Safety and Security ever In Laurea University of Applied Sciences was appointed in 2012 to develop safety and security in a systematic and goal-oriented way. Guiding principles confirmed by executive management align means and execution with roles and responsibilities. In the core of safety and security development is Laurea Library, a key stakeholder in the process. Proactive, all-encompassing and jointly implemented safety work will be pursued with risk-oriented, role-focused training.
Creative Sustainability – approaching sustainability education from a multi-disciplinary perspective
Tiina Laurila, Programme Director, Creative Sustainability, Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture
Integration of sustainable development into teaching and the work of educational institutions at all levels of education has been guided and supported by the Ministry of Education and the National Board of Education since the late 1990s. The challenge of sustainable development has also prompted educational institutions to offer new ways of providing education Five years ago, Aalto University introduced a multi-disciplinary Master’s Degree Programme in Creative Sustainability, in which system thinking and cooperation with research and international networks play a central role. Rapid changes in working life also mean that education providers must produce new professional roles that can act as change agents in the active process of creating the future. My involvement in the development of issues concerning sustainable development began more than 15 years ago. The work has involved all levels of education though most of it has been in the world of higher education. In this article I examine the matter from the perspective of the multi-disciplinary Master’s Degree Programme in Creative Sustainability (CS) at Aalto University. I have worked as the director of the programme since its start in autumn 2010.
Practical cooperation in environmental efficiency through project-based learning – Case: EcoMill project
Reetta Jänis, Project Manager, Lahti University of Applied Sciences
Päivi Kärnä, Project Coordinator, Lahti University of Applied Sciences
The Ecomill environmental efficiency workshop project, which was carried out at the Lahti University of Applied Sciences between 2010 and 2014 provided students with more practical expertise in environmental efficiency through project-based learning. Project-based learning provides students with an opportunity to concentrate on the topical issues in their own field, practice the skills that they need in working life and strengthen their own expertise. The article presents some of the cooperation projects carried out as part of the project.
Nordic transdisciplinary adventure education for sustainable development
Mona Bischoff, Head of Degree Programme, Master of Political Sciences, Novia University of Applied Sciences
Tove Holm, Training Manager, Ph.D., SYKLI Environmental School of Finland
This course was realized within a network that is called Nordplus Network – Pedagogy for Sustainable Development. The objective for this network and the course was to increase awareness of sustainable development with the help of adventure education. Studying was based on adventure education, environmental education, and experimental learning methods. By conducting this case we found that sharing skills and ideas gives opportunities for students and lecturers to learn from each other and from the experiences that takes place during a course like this. When the group is multicultural and -disciplinary it gives a dimension of understanding sustainability in a broader way.
Sustainable development at Lahti University of Applied Sciences – towards a concrete multi-stakeholder campus
Maarit Virtanen, Project Coordinator, Lahti University of Applied Sciences
Noora Nylander, Senior Lecturer, LahtiUniversity of Applied Sciences
Satu Hyökki, Project Director, Lahti University of Applied Sciences
Anna Pajari, Senior Lecturer, Lahti University of Applied Sciences
Kirsi Kallioniemi, Principal Lecturer, Lahti University of Applied Sciences
Hannele Tiittanen, Principal Lecturer, Lahti University of Applied Sciences
Silja Kostia, Education Manager, Lahti University of Applied Sciences
The environment is one of three strategic focus areas of the Lahti University of Applied Sciences. The activities in this field are still somewhat uncoordinated but the process towards a multi-stakeholder campus will mean close cooperation, higher visibility and concrete measures.