Incorporating Internal Social Responsibility As Part of the Third Mission of Higher Education Institutions
The two traditional goals of HEIs are focused around the distribution and production of knowledge through teaching and research. In recent years, demands for a fundamental shift toward greater cooperation between HEIs, the state, and society at large, forced HEIs to leave their ivory towers and become involved and engaged with society: their local neighborhoods, the national arena, as well as global partnerships. This changing agenda of HEIs was defined as their third mission and was based on ethical and moral considerations concerning promoting equitable social change, contributing to poverty reduction, and protecting political and cultural human rights. Recognition of the significance of the third mission has rapidly expanded and gained support among various HEIs, NGOs and education systems.
We claim that HEIs should expand their third mission vision to include an internal social responsibility policy and practice. By turning their attention inside, the third mission will become a comprehensive approach to social responsibility, providing a solid ethical ground for justice in higher education by promoting the social and financial well-being of their internal community of students and staff.
The paper presents initial mapping of HEIs' tasks as part of this extended concept of third mission. For example, the 'Students' domain includes: financial support, scholarships, housing, and employment-related issues; academic assistance, dropout prevention, and emotional support; affirmative action for new immigrants, minority students, and students with special needs, and the provision of academic assistance, learning aids and environmental accessibility; corrective actions for gender issues, including prevention of sexual harassment or abuse. A concrete example of implementing internal responsibility toward students with learning disabilities is demonstrated.