University Social Responsibility, a Case of Study in Mexico
Héctor Pérez López Portillo
Domingo Herrera González
Nicolas Nava Nava
Francisco Javier Velázquez Sagahón
Universidad de Guanajuato, México.
Key words: social responsibility, universities, exploratory study.
Social responsibility in higher education is becoming more relevant between academic disciplines. The role of universities in the transformation of society and its core interests becomes clear, along with their potential to make significant changes in practices inside the institutions
The purpose of this article is to explore the knowledge that students and staff of various educational programs in the Guanajuato Campus at the University of Guanajuato have in relation to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and University Social Responsibility (USR). This dissertation reviews the academic literature on CSR, from its origins to its conceptual evolution, proliferation, and ultimately its adoption in the business world and transition in the academic sphere. In this qualitative study, focus groups with students and interviews with the staff of different educational programs at the University of Guanajuato were performed.
The main results show that students and academic staff are knowledgeable about the concepts of CSR and USR and are able to relate it to various topics, such as environmental issues. They are also able to identify voluntary and mandatory activities that could be considered, and the reasons for adopting them, in the context of CSR. For students, a lot of them have participated in actions that might fall under the USR and have recognized their meaning and significance in their higher education. At the time, they have perceived some shortcomings in institutional practices, for which they have recommended increased training and greater commitment from institutional management.
In addition, the actions that the institution has undertaken on USR generally trace student participation. Student actions that are independent from the institution can also be observed. A better coordination and systematization of these activities could enable the institution to enhance the value of contribution and impact of these actions.
Meanwhile, the academic staff recognizes the importance of USR in the education of students and recognizes the contribution it could have on their development. Generally, coordinators share a concern about the ethical training of students. Additionally, they recognize the need for larger involvement and integration of this topic on the agenda of institutional decision makers.
Finally, through interpretive analysis data, we developed a model of interpretation that notes the existence of a USR competency, mainly oriented toward society, at different levels among the students. This paper contributes to the analysis of the role that universities can play in the transformation of organizations and society.