Teaching CSR in an Innovative Way
KBS introduced an optional module in CSR that aimed to expose students to contextualised ethical challenges as experienced by practitioners in single or cross-sector interactions in profit, non-profit and public sector organisations fostering flipped learning and encouraging students to become reflective practitioners.
Call to Action
Private, non-profit and public sector organisations face multiple challenges and pressures with their internal and external stakeholders especially when they aim to address complex social issues around the world in order to ensure sustainable development for all. Students are familiar with social issues but do not have the opportunity to critically reflect and challenge their own thinking, their peers’ and that of professionals on the existing solutions. To ensure transformative and reflective learning across contexts, KBS introduced the CSR optional module as part of its undergraduate provision. The aim was to transform the student experience by employing the flipped learning approach and student-centred learning through multi-level reflection exposing the students to the challenges that practitioners face in business, non-profit and public organisations hence bridging the theory-practice gap in the classroom. This was important to achieve to ensure students are able to compare and contrast types of challenges, perspectives and solutions across sectors at different stages and times. In other words, this component would help them not only perceive ethical issues and suggest ethical actions, but to also become ethical actors by understanding the role of diverse and inclusive decision making before, during and after their interaction with practitioners, hence not only becoming reflective practitioners but understanding their transformative potential of their actions in the world.
Students had to address individually a weekly in-class question developed by the well-briefed practitioner guest-speakers who significantly contributed in the co-education of students led by the support to this module of the Institute of Business Ethics in London. The student reflections would then be shared in small groups after the guest speaker’s presentation and then collectively discussed in the lecture theatre where they would have the opportunity not only to share their views and receive feedback by the guest speakers, but also to challenge publicly practitioners by questioning the principles and outcomes of the proposed solutions. Sharing their reflections publicly on a blog would move their individual, group and collective reflections to the public domain, hence building gradually their confidence, reflexivity and assertiveness contributing and inspiring practitioners to also reflect on their practices. Pre-recorded theory-based lectures were available on the intranet and reports provided by the guest speakers informed the student thinking, while weekly seminars connected theory with case-studies across a wide range of ethical issues. Students familiarised with ethical issues through the development of an individual assignment followed by group presentations analysing a social issue of their choice and presenting their insights and key recommendations.
The initial purpose of the CSR course was to ensure students were exposed as much as possible not only to theories through their reading, but to practical insights by guest speaker by asking, talking, feeling and thinking around the challenges they faced. Students tend to have deep insights and reflections of the social issues they are exposed to through the media, first hand experiences and discussions, but they often do not consider their own role and connect their critical thoughts of reality with the potential for social change. KBS wanted students to be fully aware of the ethical challenges present in today’s societies and to ensure they become confident actors in providing collaborative solutions as future leaders in business, non-profit and public sector organisations. The course successfully met its intended outcome. Additionally, the structure of the module and the opportunities for multiple interactions inside and outside the classroom empowered students by encouraging them to consider diverse inclusive solutions to social issues. Students walked away from this course with a deep desire to make a difference and a sense of accountability towards all the stakeholders including the environment. An unintended consequence of this course was increased employability. As a result of the highly interactive discussions students were offered graduate positions in two of the guest speakers’ organisations. In the early days of participating in this module conversations were often about what were the businesses, non-profit or governments solutions. After attending this module and due to the increase in student confidence, reflexivity and ability to link theory with practice students were able to articulate their own responsible solutions and see more clearly their role in being reflective confident ethical citizens and as such increase their prospects of being employed by responsible organisations around the world.
by Dr M. May Seitanidi