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INTRODUCING SOCIAL SUSTAINABILITY IN AN INFORMATION SYSTEMS COURSE

In the current context, economic, environmental and social problems increasingly demand a change of mentality and also a new development model, more concerned with protecting social and environmental interests, going beyond economic profitability and growth. In this context, training and learning must facilitate the development of the attitudes and capacities necessary to face those challenges in a globalized and changing environment. Therefore, it is important, from teaching-learning institutions, such as the University, to promote activities and actions to raise student’s awareness of these problems and give them the resources in order to motivate them to do their bit to turn this world into a better one.

For their part, new technologies, and information systems in particular, are important and useful tools to address sustainability problems, being crucial to achieve a more sustainable development. For this reason, courses related to information systems should consider sustainability as one of the topics to analyse in their syllabus.

In this sense, active and participatory teaching-learning methodologies are essential to involve students in social and environmental causes; this type of methodologies promote in a more effective way a learning for transformation, implicating the students and motivating them not only to study and pass the subject, but also to acquire the skills, attitudes and knowledge necessary to be able to contribute to the transformation of society, and the environment in general, towards a fairer and more sustainable one. The positive effects of the active and participatory methodologies could be even greater when students should face existing problems and they are encouraged to provide practical and useful solutions to those problems; then, students feel that their work has real value and their implication and motivation are further reinforced and enhanced.

Keeping this in mind, the current paper presents the activity implemented in the subject Introduction to firm information systems - teached in the degrees of Business Management, Finance and Accounting, and Economics - destined to introduce sustainability concepts in the subject - emphasizing the social dimensions, being this at the core of economic and environmental problems -, raise awareness among students, pique their interest, and get their involvement, not only in the subject, but also in a real social cause. The part of the subject where the improvement was applied is the final project, where students work in groups of 4-6 people to develop a database project for managing all the information of an organization. Specifically, this year the students should develop a database for the Asociación de Afectados de CDKL5, a non-profit organization constituted by parents and relatives of patients affected by the Cyclin-Dependent Kinase-Like 5 (CDKL5) disorder, considered a “weird illness”. The association members themselves collaborate with the teachers of the subject by preparing a video asking the students to help them to improve the way the association organizes, stores and manages the information.

This final project managed to capture the attention of the students, who were significantly engaged in the project and involved in the search for information, in expanding their knowledge and in trying to deliver a quality final project that could be useful to the association.