“Social Responsibility in Universities: from acts to impacts”
The XVII Forum for Lasallian Teachers took place on October 26th 2017 in the Universidad La Salle Noroeste. There were 320 participants representing eighteen institutes of higher education from all round the country.
The forum lasted three days and had a rich programme inspired by the contributions from some masterful speakers who gave a variety of presentations. Equally important were the exchanges that took place in the panel discussions on targeted themes. The resulting conclusions were formed by consensus and they aimed at a continuous revision of the progress being made in ensuring that social responsibility is an effective reality in the institutions involved.
Besides organising the event, the Universidad La Salle had to meet the philanthropic demands of social investment by acting as host so as to be able to count itself as included in the new paradigm of social responsibility.
The “ethical thirst” of today’s world is incarnated in what is termed “Social Responsibility”, which embraces the fundamental idea that it is not enough for organisations to comply with the current legal framework; they must also take into account the impact of the secondary consequences generated by their actions in their surrounding societies and environment. In the words written by the founder of University Social Responsibility, François Vallaeys, moral and juridical responsibility regulate action, whereas social responsibility regulates impacts. That is to say, rather than just looking at what we do and the immediate consequences of it in the locality, it considers the global, long term impact of what we do and the systemic results that flow from it.
The forum was an invitation to look more deeply into our acts and the impacts that flow from them in four fundamental dimensions of a university: its management as an institution, its total professional training, its social outreach and its research with a view to transformation. The approach that was used facilitated discussion on the ways in which a Lasallian establishment promotes an awareness of social responsibility in its students and encourages similar attitudes in the whole educational community.
Work progressed by means of masterly conferences which threw light on the context, and by thematic panel discussions which identified in a reflective and collaborative way the acts, impacts and evaluation of our organisational, environmental, administrative, educational, cognitive and social strategies. The aim of the work was to produce commitments leading to a style of management in keeping with social responsibility in our universities. Finally, papers were presented by different establishments outlining examples of success, and this helped to move things on from acts to impacts, in line with the theme of social responsibility.
Reearch throughout the Lasallian world is contributing to the development of scientific thought and of tools to improve the conditions of life for men and women today, and this stimulates the Lasallian family to go further in responding creatively and boldly to the needs of the most vulnerable.