A SERVICE-LEARNING EXPERIENCE IN ORDER TO STUDY THE SOCIETY'S PERCEPTION ABOUT SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE INVESTING CRITERIA
The integration of Spanish universities into new European Higher Education Area (EHEA) has promoted the use of active teaching and learning methods for education. In this context, the service-learning is considered as a fundamental student-centred method to develop academic skills and knowledge to address real-life needs in the community.
The main objective of this work is to present an educational project by means of which it has been developed an innovative methodology based on the service-learning and that was specially designed to study society's perception about the Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) criteria and the real-life investing needs in the community.
SRI considers both the investor's financial needs and an investment’s impact on society. To afford aspects related to SRI has involved the adoption of new educational methodologies, but also has required students to work harder on assimilating and reflecting on the concepts that go beyond the strictly economic and financial traditional vision, making students to develop a critical and proactive spirit regarding sustainability. SRI is considered a very important topic in research due to the development of financial markets and the rising demand of professional trained in aspects related to social responsibility and sustainability of organisations.
This innovative project was focused on the use of a questionnaire. The questionnaire was used by students to interview a small number of persons from their community in order to detect their investing needs. Then, they tabulated the results and proposed some solutions according to the investing detected needs.
Service-learning increases motivation and retention of academic skills as specific learning goals are tied to community needs. Applied to subject “Sustainable Finance”, it was expected that service-learning methodology would provide students with some cooperative skills required in their future profession as well as to introduce them in a dynamic and practical manner to the new investment possibilities.
This project was addressed to the students of the “Master in Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility”, which is offered by University Jaume I in Castellón and Spanish National University for Distance Education (UNED), for the subject “Sustainable Finance” during the academic year 2009-2010. This Master is online, therefore, the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for learning is a transversal subject integrated in the Programme.
Results indicate that the students have increased their motivation in the subject, and their comprehension of sustainable finance. Therefore, this learning experience presents the service-learning as a creative, innovative and effective tool in training practice for students of the higher education.
It is expected the improvements included in the educational methodology of the subject will help students to solve the problems and difficulties they will find as a consequence of the changes that are being included to move from the current educational system, which is based on magisterial lessons and concepts memorisation, to a new system focused on individual work out of the classroom and professional development of students.