Engage Locally; Aim Globally- Announcement of Results of The Phase II University Social Responsibility Program (2020-2022)
Between September 2nd and October 1st, 2019, the Ministry of Education (MOE) launched the Phase II University Social Responsibility (USR) Program (2020-2022) and received 437 projects from 136 universities in Taiwan. Of these, 97 universities have been funded by the MOE to carry out 217 projects over three years (2020-2022).
Universities are expected to fulfill the responsibilities of sustainable development and proactive solutions to societal and environmental challenges by promoting course innovation and institutional transformation. In 2018, the MOE launched a two-year USR Program. Promoting local engagement and human resources development were the two major goals of this program. Local engagement emphasized collaborative partnership building between campuses and communities. Faculties and students were organized into think tanks to study local issues from multi-disciplinary aspects and to facilitate social innovation in local industries and community culture. Human resources development focused on course innovation and institutional transformation. Students, no longer trained in the classroom, were expected to practice their learned knowledge in local communities or through international exchange. Course design, no longer fixed or durable, was expected to be innovative and flexible to respond to local needs and international challenges to expand students’ capacity building in facing future challenges.
The MOE launched the Phase I USR Program across 114 universities in Taiwan and funded 220 projects. Overall, these 220 projects covered 239 townships in Taiwan. Based on the productive experiences of Phase I, the MOE has launched another phase of the USR Program starting from 2020. In addition to local engagement, the Phase II program expects participating universities to carry out institutional transformation to school governance and targets to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the United Nations. Also, some selected universities are encouraged to actively affiliate with regional schools and develop international exchange platforms to expand their impact on higher education transformation locally as well as internationally. To encourage universities to carry out transformation to school governance and administration arrangements, Type A, a start-up stage program of the Phase I USR Program, has been merged into the Higher Education Sprout Project to establish the USR HUB.
In the Phase II USR Program, 97 universities have been funded by the MOE to carry out 217 projects over three years (2020-2022). According to the funding scales, only two types of program are included. Most projects are included in the University Feature Type, with 181 start-up stage projects and 20 expansion stage projects. In the International Networking Type, there are only 12 projects funded for start-up stage projects and 4 for international platform development projects. In terms of issues, 74 projects will focus on local development issues, and 52 projects will help with local industrial transformation and economic sustainability. Thirty-five projects will focus on health promotion and food safety, 24 projects on environmental sustainability, 20 projects on cultural sustainability and 12 projects will focus on other social practices.
The Phase II USR program expects participating universities to carry out institutional transformation to school governance. Universities are encouraged to actively affiliate with regional schools and develop international exchange platforms to expand their impact on higher education transformation locally as well as internationally. Higher education institutions worldwide have begun to embrace a new paradigm of engaging campuses and communities to facilitate so-called university social responsibility. Through international platform building, these universities are encouraged to build cooperative and collaborative relationships with these institutions or organizations through joint course development, project exchange, and faculty/student visits, enhancing higher education quality and students’ ability to work internationally. At the institutional level, some selected universities are urged to start organizing USR academic-professional alliances so that they can take the initiative in networking with international USR organizations and sharing Taiwan USR experiences. Ultimately, universities in Taiwan could be part of international communities making contributions to the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.
Universities in Taiwan are undergoing a social revolution of the higher education paradigm by instilling the dynamics of university social responsibility. Some universities have gained visible achievements in social innovation and institutional transformation on campus over the past two years. In the future, building on the experience of local engagement, universities are encouraged to aim globally by networking with international academic institutions and USR organizations. Hopefully the new generation of students in Taiwan will have visionary ideas and social innovation skills by starting their careers in local communities as well as international societies. And higher education institutions in Taiwan can become think tanks for local solutions as well as international development goals.
Announcement of Results of the Phase II USR Program：Center for University Social Responsility / Ministry of Education