UNIVERSITY 4.0: TRAJECTORY OF SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Al-Farabi Kazakh National University shared its experience in implementing corporate social responsibility in an international online webinar. Representatives of the QS authoritative rating agency, the Union of Arab Universities and the ACSR member-universities, have attended the event, organized by the Arab Council for Social Responsibility (ACSR).
Opening the webinar, Secretary General of the ACSR, Randa Rizk, highlighted the importance of exchanging ideas, resources and practices, as well as cooperation between Universities in developing a global movement of social responsibility in higher education.
Representatives of Quacquarelli Symonds have shared their opinion on how Universities should respond to new challenges, including those influenced by COVID-19. «Universities have to ensure students’ readiness for the new needs of the labor market and teach them the necessary skills so that they, after graduating the Universities, remain in demand», – said Zoya Zaitseva, Head of the QS Global Partnership. Ashwin Fernandez, Regional Director for QS unit in MENA & South Asia, has emphasized that Universities should promote and implement sustainable development programmes in line with the Millennium Development Goals.
The seminar participants have showed great interest in the experience of Al-Farabi Kazakh National University. Vice-Rector of KazNU Sholpan Zhamanbalayeva told about the policy and practice of social responsibility that is being implemented within the model «University 4.0». It is based on the teaching of the great thinker Al-Farabi on a virtuous society, where each resident seeks to achieve the common good – happiness on the basis of mutual assistance to each other. This model has been developed and implemented by KazNU as the Global Hub of the UN «Academic Impact» Program on Sustainable Development. It is focused on expanding the University’s sphere of influence from the role of producer and «conductor» of knowledge and innovation to the mission of «transformer» of culture and society. Today, on the UN recommendation, the «University 4.0» model is being disseminated internationally.
The practice of social responsibility is being implemented in KazNU at several public levels. At the primary level, a task has been set to ensure that each member of the University community makes commitment to improve the internal and external environment. Projects such as «Ainalandy Nurlandyr», «KazNU – Greencampus» and others are aimed at this. An Integrity Education Programme is being realized, of which special training courses on the ethics of integrity and the activity of the University’s «School of Integrity» are important components.
Regional and national levels of social responsibility are implemented through the participation of KazNU in solving pressing social problems of the local community and society as a whole. A number of projects are aimed at transferring the necessary competencies to the community and improving their social well-being. These include training of citizens in entrepreneurial skills, distance education of convicts, vocational guidance programs for children from socially vulnerable families, consultations to improve legal literacy, and resolving conflicts among the community through mediation and many other projects. In the context of the fight against the pandemic, the laboratories of KazNU are conducting scientific research to combat coronavirus, which is supported by the international organization IСESCO. KazNU has established the production of special protective helmets and donated them to medical institutions in Almaty. The University has provided its infrastructure – dormitories and a diagnostic center – for medical workers and public services. Student volunteers work in call centers, community support services and drug delivery.
KazNU as the UN Global Hub, showing social responsibility at the international level, has been implementing the model «University 4.0» jointly with the UN Alliance of Civilizations in the framework of an international project «Formation of citizens of a virtuous society. Mission of modern universities». Al-Farabi centers established in the 12 leading HEIs in the world have now been involved in its implementation. Being the only representative among the HEIs of the post-Soviet space in the international University Social Responsibility Network (USRN), KazNU conducted a seminar for the members of this organization – «Towards a Virtuous Society: Inclusion of Social Responsibility for the Activities of the Social and Humanitarian Centers of Universities».
The online webinar on social responsibility has ended with an interesting discussion and a Q&A session, where speakers and participants shared information and their practical experience.