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Development of universities’ social responsibility through academic service learning programs

Author

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  • Julia Peric

    () (Faculty of Economics in Osijek)

Abstract

Universities with their educational, research and social performance directly influence the quality of life in communities. Socially responsible universities foster the development of entrepreneurial behavior and social responsibility of their students and show that they know and can respond to actual social issues, not only through projects referred to community development, but also through programs and courses that educate young people how to become active participants in the process of making positive social changes. Such educational programs, also known as “academic service learning programs“, allow students transfer knowledge and skills gained in the classroom into practical projects within their communities thus becoming more socially aware and active. Such programs are important component of socially responsible performance of universities; they reinforce the connection between universities and local communities, show that universities are capable to recognize what is going on in their society and actively participate in the development of the culture where socially responsible behavior of its actors is not a mean to an end but an end itself. In Croatia most universities are neglecting the responsibility they have toward their community thus focusing merely on educational and research component. This paper describes the case of the academic service learning course Entrepreneurial skill I at Faculty of Economics in Osijek as one of the rare examples of fostering development of social responsibilities of students. This course encourages students to stop being passive observers of social phenomena, but instead, through active participation in the community, to have direct impact on solving current social issues and develop skills with which they will ensure successful employment. The project “Contribution to the Community” within the course is an important activity that helps students retain and improve their skills, provides opportunity to explore new options, gives pleasure because of participating in solving community's problems, and contributes to building problem solving capacity. Fostering and developing entrepreneurial mindset of students affects both their personal development and the economic and social development of the community they live in. The methodology used to identify models used for development of entrepreneurial behaviors of college students is based on a review of literature (entrepreneurship education, knowledge society, universities’ social responsibility, academic service learning programs, higher education and economic development) and qualitative studies and recommendations related to supporting students’ active engagement in the community and collaboration between local communities, universities and students.

Suggested Citation

  • Julia Peric, 2012. "Development of universities’ social responsibility through academic service learning programs," Economy of eastern Croatia yesterday, today, tommorow, Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek, Faculty of Economics, Croatia, vol. 1, pages 365-375.
  • Handle: RePEc:osi:eecytt:v:1:y:2012:p:365-375
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Leitão, João & Silva, Maria José, 2007. "CSR and Social Marketing: What is the desired role for Universities in fostering Public Policies?," MPRA Paper 2954, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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