Cultural Perspectives on Social Responsibility in Higher Education

  • Iris M Yob Walden University
Keywords: Social responsibility, higher education, motivation, social justice, empowerment, social change


The writers of the UNESCO document, Rethinking education: Towards a global common good? challenge educators to address their efforts to meet the current threats to sustainable life for all who share this planet. One way that higher education has been attempting to do this is through campus-community partnerships working to solve social problems locally or further afield. In this exploratory study, answers were sought to the question of why faculty members and administrators participate in these service partnerships, both in terms of what motivates them to do so and what they hope to accomplish, and how cultural context may influence their answers. Answers to these questions may have implications for faculty recruitment and support and for curriculum design and student preparation for serving the common good as well as for the larger vision of how institutions might fulfill their social responsibility. Using one-on-one semi-structured interviews in a number of different countries, some trends could be identified. Responding to a sense of duty was found across all cultural contexts as a primary motivator for faculty members and administrators, but how duty was interpreted and legitimized depended on their various religious and political grounds. Cultural context also influenced whether participants saw their impact as empowering their service partners or establishing social justice. 

Author Biography

Iris M Yob, Walden University
Iris Yob, originally from Australia where she taught in teacher education, came to the USA in 1983 to study at Harvard University where she obtained her doctoral degree in the philosophy of education. She has taught at the State University of New York, Geneseo, and administered the academic program at the Living Learning Center at Indiana University. She joined Walden University in 1996 as a part-time faculty member in the PhD in Education program, and later became the Program Director then Associate Dean of the program. She is currently Director, Social Change Initiatives in the Center for Faculty Excellence. With several recent awards, Laureate Higher Education Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award, the Walden University College of Education Educational Leadership Research Grant, and the David A. Wilson Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, she has undertaken research on online mentoring, assessing graduate independent studies in the workplace, social change, and professional education. She has published in Studies in Philosophy and Education, Educational Theory, Aesthetic Education, Religion and Education, Religious Studies, Religious Education, and Philosophy of Music Education, as well several book chapters. Her research approaches are philosophical and qualitative.


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How to Cite
Yob, I. M. (2016). Cultural Perspectives on Social Responsibility in Higher Education. Higher Learning Research Communications, 6(2), 116-136.