A conference on Social Responsibility at Institutions was held at the Czech University of Life Sciences on 7 November. The aim of the conference was to present various approaches to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and subsequently open a discussion on the role of universities in this respect.
Doc. Ing. Petr Valášek, Ph.D., opened the conference with an introductory word and described how the Czech University of Life Sciences works towards sustainability. He was followed by Ing. Lucie Kvasničková Stanislavská, Ph.D., who presented the results of research into the topic of CSR at universities.
Three speakers from three different institutions then presented their approach to social responsibility: Mgr. Jan Mareš from the Ministry of the Environment, Mgr. Jiří Štěpán from Kopřivnice and Ing. Kamila Šťastná from Sonnentor. Each speaker represented a different type of institution and the concept with which they approached the topic also differed. However, all of the contributions were linked by the topic of participation. The involvement of employees, customers, citizens or students in the decision-making and running of the organization has proved to be crucial.
During the following panel discussion, Associate Professor Ing. Petr Valášek from CZU was joined by Ing. Alena Plášková, CSc. from the University of Economics in Prague, Mgr. Richard Hubl from Masaryk University and Ing. Sylvie Formánková, Ph.D. from Mendel University in Brno. All of the speakers shared the activities and processes they apply at their universities to achieve greater sustainability. This was followed by an open discussion, which showed, among other things, that the interest and support of management is crucial for the implementation of sustainability at universities (and elsewhere). Responsibility for this topic should be institutionalized and coordinated for the entire organization “from above”.
An interesting discussion also arose around the topic of the carbon footprint and travel of employees and students. On the one hand, there is a need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and, on the other, there is the crucial contribution of academic and student stays and research abroad.
We are already preparing for the next conference. This time, other universities should be more involved.