“A of how much of an impact

“A school
must demonstrate a commitment to address, engage, and respond to current and
emerging corporate social responsibility issues (e.g., diversity, sustainable
development, environmental sustainability, and globalization of economic
activity across cultures) through its policies, procedures, curricula,
research, and/or outreach activities.” (Nicholls et al, 2013, pg.130)

To me, Social responsibility is the
duty of oneself or a group to behave in a way that will not harm society, but
rather to benefit it. Social responsibility matters to me because of how much
of an impact it has on society, including effecting future generations, which
is why I think it is so important.

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With this essay, I will explore the
University of Manchester’s actions and evaluate its effectiveness in addition
to critiquing where they fail in their effort to commit to social
responsibility. To further my understanding of the University of Manchester’s
performance I will compare their actions to another university to help me be
more effective in my critiquing. I have chosen to analyse the University of
Manchester because it is an established organisation which has a great impact
on not only its students and faculty- its local community, but also impacts
wider society immensely.

The University of
Manchester defines Social responsibility as

“…The way we are
making a difference to the social and environmental well-being of our
communities through our teaching, research and public events and activities. (Social responsibility n.d.)

The
University of Manchester has placed a great deal off importance on social
responsibility, it has made it one of its three core strategic goals in their ‘Manchester
2020 strategy’ to become one of the leading university’s in the world,
recognising its importance. (Social responsibility n.d) Manchester has split
their commitment to social responsibility into five key priorities; Respect
with impact, Socially-responsible graduates, Engaging our communities, Responsible
processes and Environmental sustainability. (Guide to social responsibility at the
University of Manhester, pg.3) The university has created signature programs
that specifically address each priority, for example the ‘Ethical grand
challenges’ targets the priority of ‘Socially responsible graduates’. I have
taken part in one of the ‘Ethical grand challenges’, the ‘Sustainability
challenge,’ which targets first years and takes place in their first week. By
having the students immediately take part in one of the sustainability challenges
a soon as they arrive shows students clearly just how important and serious ‘Social
responsibility’ is to the university, setting the tone for the student’s university
life at Manchester. The ‘Sustainability challenge’ involves students designing
a sustainable campus of the fictional ‘University of Millchester’ which must meet
the needs of the local community, as well as be cost and energy efficient. (Eight
thousand students- one great challenge n.d) I found this activity to be a very helpful
learning experience, helping me to understand more about the economic, environmental
and social factors associated and how they should be approached. Overall, this
has enriched my awareness and knowledge on social responsibility matters, as the
aim of this program.

However, I
feel that some of the university’s programs are insufficient as they only
tackle social responsibility issues in a shallow manner. For example, whilst
the sustainability challenge is able to introduce students to the issues and
make them aware, there seems to be no follow up action on these programmes
until a year later as these challenges only take place once every year. Instead,
I think it should be something that is incorporated continuously throughout the
academic year. By developing more activities and programs, the university will
be able to build more deeply on the student’s knowledge, awareness and personal
responsibility more effectively.

The
university’s commitment to social responsibility has been quite successful,
having produced positive results. For example the results of the university’s ‘Ethical
challenge’ include

“97% of students in pilots said they increased their
awareness of justice in the workplace through our Workplace Ethics Challenge.” (Ethical grand
challenges n.d.)

The university is
able to successfully bring awareness of the subject matter to the students
meeting their aims. Not only is the university able to have an impact on the
students and within the university, but they are also able to have an impact on
communities outside of the university.

“By
engaging and partnering with a range of people and organisations we are
harnessing our knowledge and resources to make a difference in our local
communities and wider society.” (Engaging our communities n.d)

However,
the university’s decisions and actions are not always ‘Socially responsible’. The
University has recently has made plans to axe 171 jobs, 140 of which are academic
positions. (Frances
Perraudin, 2017) This decision goes against ‘Social responsibility
‘whose definition includes the business making responsible ethical decisions
that considers the big picture and multiple stakeholders. (Nicholls et al, 2013) Not only will these redundancies effect the quality of
life of those workers as they lose their jobs, it will also affect the students
as those who are being axed are older, more experienced staff whom the university
are replacing with younger early-career academics. (France Perraudin, 2017) Thus,
several stakeholder groups will be negatively affected by these plans, making
them unethical and socially irresponsible. I recommend that the university
rethinks these plans or try to implement them in the least unethical way.

A university which shares
similar characteristics as the University of Manchester is the University of
Leeds, both are large Russel Group universities in cities in Northern England. I
will be comparing these two universities to help me to judge Manchester’s
actions more objectively. One way in
which the University of Manchester lacks in comparison to the University of
Leeds in their social responsibility is the lack of modules related to social responsibility.

“The
University of Leeds has 163 modules relating to sustainability.” (University of
Leeds Annual Sustainability Report, 2015/16
pg.12)

This is
part of their aim of ‘Building Knowledge and capacity’, similar to Manchester’s
aim of ‘Socially responsible graduates’. This is an example of how the University
of Leeds tries to get the students involved as much as possible. Whilst Manchester
does have a few modules relating to sustainability, including an entire module
dedicated solely to sustainability titled ‘Global Citizenship and
sustainability’, it is not on the same level as the University of Leeds. I
think the University of Manchester should provide more modules on the subject
matter or related to it like the University of Leeds. This would help the
students to become more knowledgeable and aware of the subject, by integrating ‘Social
responsibility’ into their studies this will have a greater impact as more
students will be involved and taught.

In addition,

“The Times
Higher Education Supplement ranked the University of Leeds the top UK
University for the environmental impact of our research, recognising work that
has driven environmental awareness.” (University of Leeds Annual Sustainability
Report, 2015/16 pg.14)

Whilst The
University of Manchester does research with impact and have had positive results,
in certain areas the university does fall short. For example, the University of
Manchester falls short of their 2020 target for carbon reduction. (Carbon n.d.)
However, the University of Leeds was very successful in their carbon reducing
scheme, they recorded a figure of 244 tonnes of carbon saved overall. This was
done through reducing operational steam by installing a range of instruments. (University
of Leeds Annual Sustainability Report, 2015/16
pg.12) The University
of Manchester could learn from The University of Lead’s success and also implement
these solutions.

However, unlike the University of Leeds,
Manchester has the

 

“UK’s largest environmental
sustainability initiative for staff in higher education.” (10000 actions n.d.)

 

Although the University of Leeds too
does have a staff initiative, training courses based on the university’s sustainable
strategy, it is not to the same extent of Manchester’s. The University of Leeds
programme has so far has only involved 67 managers, (University of Leeds
Annual Sustainability Report, 2015/16 pg.13)
whilst the university of Manchester’s similar
programme, the ‘10,000 Action’ aims to teach and engage all 10,000+ of the
university staff in positive action on sustainability. (10000 actions n.d.) The
University of Leeds could learn from Manchester’s ‘10,000 Action’ program by
including their entire staff rather than certain selected members. This would
help to create a more socially responsible environment in the university as it
is the staff which influence the students.

 

In conclusion, from
analysing my own experiences at the University of Manchester as well as their
other efforts, I have been able to draw on both the merits and faults of the
University. Whilst the university may lack in some areas including their ‘Ethical
challenge’, their poorly made decisions, lack of modules relating to ‘Sustainability’
and their carbon use, the university is successfully making great impacts
within and outside the institution. This clearly shows their commitment to the
matter. In addition, with my analysis I have also been able to provide
recommendations to help improve the university which are to develop current
programs and actions as well as creating new ones. These are provided for the
purpose of supporting the students a well a making my own contribution to
society.