26 February 2018 • Gideon Wille
An unhappy end to the CSR project
The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project at our school has died a quiet death. Frederik de Wit, who teaches in the Mechanical Engineering programme, expresses his disappointment about this, while Deborah Mevissen (Director of the Education, Knowledge & Culture service department) puts this into an organisational perspective.
‘The CSR project was just starting to really get going,’ said De Wit. ‘In October 2016, we held the Sustainability Day. Climate Management lecturers integrated CSR into their educational programme. Students became involved. I was able to start a project that was giving students a broader perspective.’
A hapless end
‘If you teach mechanical engineering, it’s hard to make a connection between this subject matter and global citizenship. But CSR is perfect for this. I see a link, for example, with our minor in sustainable energy. This is why I was so amazed to hear that if global citizenship is so important to us that we’d let a project that supported it come to such a hapless end.’
‘It was rather Kafkaesque. When Jan Lintsen left the Executive Board, the topic of CSR started receiving less attention at the administrative level. And we lost one of the leading figures in the CSR project during the reorganisation of the Education, Knowledge & Culture service department. How it all came about is so weird; promises were simply not kept. We lost two excellent colleagues. It’s especially sad when you consider how little money they had requested for CSR.
A grasp of the situation
‘I can understand the disappointment,’ said Deborah Mevissen. ‘To clarify exactly what happened, we have to go back to the beginning. The CSR project was financed by the Innovation Fund. This provides money for a certain number of years; after that, such a project has to be financed within the normal budget.
‘About a year ago, we started looking for a way to integrate the CSR project into the standard organisational system. At that time, however, the financial situation of our school was different. It seemed as if the leaders of the CSR project could be given positions within Education, Knowledge & Culture or the Facilities & IT Department. But while we were working on this, the vacancy measures came into effect. This was why the contracts for the leading backers of this project couldn’t be extended.
‘Even so, there are still other possibilities for continuing the project that these leaders had started before they left and for looking at elements of CSR that would fit into the activities related, for example to global citizenship at Education, Knowledge and Culture. Global citizenship, however, covers more territory than just CSR. So other possibilities could be found elsewhere. The topic of sustainability at our school is addressed by the Facility & IT Department. The Lighthouse would be a suitable place to hold debates about CSR and work on building a CSR community.