Dr Rajesh Tandon, Co-Chair, UNESCO Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education, and President, PRIA, was invited for a special lecture on ‘Social Responsibility in Higher Education Institutions’, at Mysore University, Karnataka on September 8, 2015. The lecture was organized by the Department of Studies in Economics and Co-operation, Mysore University, and hosted by Dr Indira Mahendravada, Professor, Department of Economics. The audience included faculty from various departments such as Sociology, Social Work, Women’s Studies, Commerce etc. Apart from this, university students too attended the lecture in large numbers.
Dr Tandon began the lecture by outlining the importance of social responsibility. He shared that, ‘social responsibility of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) is not about planting trees on a Sunday or cleaning garbage of a slum on Saturday. Social responsibility is about doing research in a responsible and responsive manner; it is about respecting local practitioner knowledge.’
In realizing the goals of social responsibility and putting words into action, Dr Tandon accorded most importance to the role of students and teachers. Further to this, he especially called on the students to undertake initiatives for achieving meaningful learning opportunities. In doing this, he shared that, ‘the students need to take responsibility for their own learning. They need to look at the curriculum and pedagogy and say if it makes sense to them. Passive students in university are wasting opportunity’. Dr Tandon also articulated about the crucial role, the university teachers play in this process. He said that, ‘teachers need to stimulate and challenge students for collective, social and individual learning; if students can become active learners–lifelong and life wide– then the purpose of higher education is served well.’
Linking pedagogics and social responsibility, Dr Tandon shared that, ‘Socially responsible teaching is to encourage students to become active learners, to challenge them to get out of their zones of comfort and confront reality around them, to look at societal challenges as learning opportunities.’