In a world with 7.6 billion people and limited resources, there is an urgent need for individuals and societies to learn to live sustainably. Investing in educational organizations to make them more socially responsible is thus a smart place to start on the long road to guaranteeing long-term success and attaining our sustainability goals.
Education, in addition to providing the foundations for social and economic development, shapes us as individuals, and the things we learn and the habits we establish during our schooling tend to stick with us for the rest of our lives. As a result, it is only fair to presume that by incorporating social responsibility thinking into our existing educational organizations, we raise the likelihood of leaving a brighter and better world for future generations.
Knowing that curriculums and other standardized educational documents contain “socially responsible” commitments that are not always realized or implemented, ISO 21001 can assist in this regard by acting as a catalyst for these initiatives while also providing a structured and methodical approach with a strong focus on the needs of learners and other beneficiaries. ISO 21001 can also help to spread the message that education is better off when it gives back to and respects the society that funds it, as well as the environment in which it functions.
Early in life, young learners begin to create connections with the world, and parents, guardians, teachers (especially kindergarten and primary school teachers), and other role models are critical for each child’s development of a healthy and empowered relationship with society. One of the most effective methods to help young learners build this connection is to allow them to enter and interact with the real world around them. Failure to do so might result in a lack of connection and commitment between oneself, their communities, and broader groups.
There are initiatives inside higher education institutions to make social responsibility a core component of the curriculum and culture. These initiatives have the potential to further assist students in developing their social skills, creating a sense of connection with the world around them, developing their ability to study and explore questions about their responsibilities as a local and global citizen, and ultimately assisting them in developing the confidence that they can make a difference in the world. ISO 21001 includes clause 8.3 Design and development of educational products and services, which covers the requirements for establishing, implementing, and maintaining a design and development process for educational products and services, including planning, inputs, controls, and outputs. The standard specifies the standards for educational service, curriculum, and summative assessment controls. All of these requirements, when properly implemented and followed, have the potential to assist higher education institutions in creating learning environments in which all students strive for excellence in the use of their talents, seek responsibility for the integrity and quality of their work, find meaningful practices, and do not give up on their pursuit of social responsibility.
To summarize, Anne Colby and William M. Sullivan, senior scholars at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, state in a journal article titled “Strengthening the Foundations of Students’ Excellence, Integrity, and Social Contribution,” that
“it is important for the institutional culture to help students think about what they want to be like as individuals, as professionals in their fields, and as citizens, as well as to engage them habitually in social contributions.”
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