LEARNING ABOUT PUBLIC CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY MANAGEMENT. A VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE
The denominated Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is considered to be the business contribution to sustainable development, since the CSR concept comprises all those policies of corporate and enterprise activities that belong to the ambit of voluntary activities in the areas of economic growth, environmental management, social cohesion and corporate governance. In recent years the debate about the role of the Public Institutions in the fields of CSR and sustainable development has gained momentum. In the European Union, both the European Commission and the European Council have considered these questions as crucial in their policies and publications.
In this context, the importance of universities as routes for the transmission of knowledge, and as links between society and business, has given rise to approaches that incorporate CSR in universities. In fact, the above-mentioned European institutions, consider the key role of the universities in the promotion of CSR and sustainability. They emphasise the importance of the CSR as a key subject, especially in courses for future managers.
These political initiatives are consistent with the Bologna Process content, since it recognizes the important role the higher education should play in promoting social cohesion and maximizing the individuals’ potential to contribute to a sustainable and democratic knowledge-based society.
The main objective of this study is to explain a successful learning experience developed in order to make students to understand and to manage the scope and complexity associated to the CSR integration in a public organisation. Special attention was given to the environmental CSR dimension. Since CSR is often associated with the analysis of the organization’s relations with its stakeholders, students had to analyse the proposed public institution from a socially responsible stakeholder’s management perspective. During the first step, students had to identify environmental impacts and their related stakeholders. In a second phase, they had to assess the contributions of their classmates by means of a process of voting. The results of this process, gave the inputs for the next phase, where students analyzed the stakeholders associated to the main impacts according to three parameters. The activity ended with the proposal of public strategies just considering the previous stakeholder categorization. The activity was virtually developed and executed through an online platform specifically designed. This allowed the students participate actively, openly and interactively with the rest of class.
The learning experience here presented was developed for the subject “Public Administrations and CSR”, which pertains to the “Master in Sustainability and CSR” (University Jaume I and UNED). This Master is online, therefore, the use of information and communications technologies for learning is a transversal subject integrated in the programme. The results of the experience showed the potential of these interactive activities to better understand the learning process of complex concepts.