What CSR education should be all about?
Updated: Apr 4
Let’s start with what it shouldn’t be about. CSR education should not be about simply acquiring knowledge about business & society issues and instructing students how to make responsible business decisions within a market economy. CSR education should be about supporting students in developing the ability to think more critically about the role of business in society. To help students think critically educators need to engage students in critical reflexive practices that help them share knowledge and critically question assumptions about traditional business models and market mechanism. It is through critical reflexivity that students are able to test moral boundaries and make sense of the ambiguities and the complexities of CSR. Critical reflexivity should be the cornerstone of CSR education.
What is critical reflexivity?
Critical reflexivity refers to the social process of questioning assumptions embodied in both theory and professional practice. Critical reflexivity plays an essential role in promoting the intellectual pluralism needed by students to fundamentally evaluate, critically analyse and reflect upon the premises underlying contemporary business practices. It is through critical reflexive practices that students trained the ability to recognize the ideologically laden nature of CSR and the role of discourses and power relations enabling or constraining our understanding of responsibility in relation to society and the natural environment.
How to support critical reflexivity in the classroom?
There is a wide range of pedagogical techniques that can be used to engage students in critical reflexive practices. I like to work with experiential learning approaches as they align well with my teaching philosophy. For example, problem-based learning (PBL) and collaborative storytelling have been effective tools in creates a learning space that allows students to critically question contemporary business practices and thus position themselves within the business and society discussion. I strongly believe that this type of experiential learning approaches in CSR education are key in improving the ability of future business professionals to transform old ways of organizing, managing and relating to their stakeholders in the marketplace. We urgently need such a transformation to make progress towards a more sustainable and just society.
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Cunliffe, A. L. (2016). Republication of “On Becoming a Critically Reflexive Practitioner.” Journal of Management Education, 40(6), 747–768.Available here.
García-Rosell, J. C. (2013). Struggles over CSR meanings in teaching practices: the case of hybrid problem-based learning, Management Learning, (154, 2), 537-555. Available here.
García-Rosell, J. C. (2019). A discursive perspective on corporate social responsibility education: A story co-creation exercise. Journal of Business Ethics, (44, 5), 1019-1032. Available here.